May 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?

Blue Tesla Model 3

MAY 31 2018 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 65

May 2018 plug-in sales should continue to set records and paint a picture of a promising future for the segment.

May marks the 32nd month of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains* for plug-in vehicles.

It has been a very interesting year for electric vehicle sales with a lackluster January, the longest reporting holdup ever in February, and a record-breaking March. April also landed in the fifth-highest spot for all-time EV sales. There’s no doubt May will secure a place in the top five as well, and if the stars align, it could grab the third spot overall, historically.

Last Month’s Results – April 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

Check This Out: All-New Monthly Sales Report Card Archive

Top Months for U.S. EV Sales to Date (estimated):

  1. March 2018 – 26,373
  2. December 2017 – 26,107
  3. December 2016 – 24,785
  4. September 2017 – 21,242
  5. April 2018 – 19,681

Follow Here: Monthly Plug-In Sales Scorecard

The Tesla Model 3 has achieved a much higher rate of production output and been more consistent as of late. Three shutdowns have worked to make improvements in both build quality and speed. March was an incredible month for Tesla’s hugely popular new small sedan. This was true not only for the Model 3, but also for Tesla as a whole. The Silicon Valley automaker had sold an estimated 10,000 vehicles in March in the U.S. alone, over 6,000 of which were the company’s Model S and Model X. To top it off, Tesla took the lead for global EV sales for March and the quarter. In fact, in regards to EVs, it was the best month of all time for every automaker in the U.S.

The Model 3 stayed at the top in April, with an estimated 3,875 delivered, for a total of over 12,000 for the year.  Model S and X sales were flat, which was to be expected, since historically the automaker has delivered less in the U.S. in the opening month of each quarter. We expect May to pan out similarly, with S and X sales close to those of last year, though Model 3 sales are sharply rising.

Read This – 6 Automakers Closest To Losing The Federal Tax Credit

Nissan pulled an impressive March, but April was a bit of a disappointment as its all-new 2018 LEAF didn’t sell as many copies as we’d expected or hoped. However, we’re confident that sales will continue to be respectable for the remainder of 2018, with a boost once the longer range model arrives late in the year.

GM switched away from monthly sales reporting at the end of Q1. Going forward, the automaker will follow Tesla’s lead and only release numbers at the close of each quarter. So, it will be July before we have a solid handle on Chevrolet Bolt and Chevrolet Volt deliveries. Between now and then, we’ll offer estimated sales to keep our chart complete.

The Toyota Prius PrimeHonda Clarity PHEV, and BMW i3 also deserve mention. The Prime has maintained second place on our sales chart by a wide margin thus far this year. The Clarity PHEV commanded an outstanding December, which was its first full month of sales. It kicked it again in February, edging closer to the top competitors in the segment, but March and April were when it really started to shine, with over 1,000 copies delivered. Though i3 sales were weak throughout 2017 and opened this year the same, March saw a surge. Sadly, sales for BMW’s quirky EV plummeted in April. What will May bring for these contenders?

While 2017 plug-in sales fell just shy of the 200,000 mark, it was still an incredibly telling year as a whole. Hitting that mark for 2018 should happen well before the end of the year. However, there are several variables involved in determining where we might be by the end of December. Nonetheless, sales exceeding 300,000 copies for the segment are expected.

Check Out: Contributor Josh Bryant’s 2018 yearly sales predictions here

The year ahead continues to hold considerable promise for the segment, however, until this second quarter comes to a close, it’s difficult to predict precisely how everything will pan out. Will this month take our sales chart past the 100,000 mark? It seems feasible for sure. We can’t wait to find out.

Questions entering May:

  1. Will the Tesla Model 3 sales continue to soar above all others, despite the recent shutdown?
  2. Will 2018 Nissan LEAF sales spike, or was March an exception?
  3. With no sales data from GM until July, will Chevrolet Bolt and Volt inventory be proof enough of sales ups or downs?
  4. Can Tesla dial-up Model S and Model X sales as high as last May, despite the impact of the Model 3?
  5. In regards to the Toyota Prius Prime … how high can numbers soar?
  6. Honda Clarity PHEV deliveries continue to impress. Will we start seeing a trend of even bigger surges as the year moves forward?
  7. BMW i3 sales tanked in April. Can it regain some of its former status this month?

Categories: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

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65 Comments on "May 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales: What To Expect?"

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Ocean Railroader

What I really think May and the rest of the year will be about will be if the factories and dealerships if they have the electric cars in stock.

What I really think is we could in theory have a 500,000 electric cars hit the roads in 2018 if every electric car factory went wild building evs and putting them on dealer lots.

But Nissan and GM are making up excuses why they are not to or don’t want to build more EV’s. While I think with Tesla is trying to make sure its’ cars are bug free when they hit the road.

Doggydogworld

500k in the US?
Not a chance.

Dave

I think 500k is out of reach in 2018, but next year it is a possibility. Would be a nice goal to reach.

Prad Bitt

A nice goal would a million.

Ziv
GM has intentionally built their EV’s with design flaws and pricing flaws that precluded the possibility of their ever selling in significant amounts. The Volt had seating for just 4, and the rear seats are horrible if you are over 5’6″. Then they priced it JUST over $40k when it came out so that the haters could say, “It only seats 4 people and it costs MORE THAN $40,000!” Idiots. They sold about 2,000 base model cars in the first couple quarters. Pricing them $900 less would have cost GM less than $2,000,000 and it would have reduced the effect of the attacks made with regards to pricing the Volt. Then there is the Bolt. Ugly as sin, an interior quality that could have graced a base model Chevy Chevette and it still can’t fast charge at more than 50 kW speeds. The ELR was overpriced and had underwhelming acceleration & the Spark was too small for most buyers. The CT6 looks like a 1990’s Buick, so it should sell well in China and probably nowhere else. The sad part is that all these cars are well built and some of them are actually excellent cars in their own market… Read more »
Dave

Your post is a complete waste of words, and does nothing promote EV’s except insult many that are/were in the market, indirectly insulting their buyers.

Ziv

Dave, you refuted nothing I said and pretty much exemplified the FanBoi attitude of a good quarter of the people that back BEV’s. It isn’t good enough to be a blind supporter of EV’s. We have to demand better cars, not just cars that support our views. GM could build better cars but they don’t because enough of us are satisfied with almost good enough. GM has never built the electric car that they could have. A slightly bigger Volt, a better looking Bolt that charged faster or a moderately cheaper ELR…
Tesla is going to kick our expectations into the back seat this year and next, so we need to demand better cars and hold GM, Nissan, Kia, Hyundai, Ford, BMW and all the rest, even Tesla, to these higher standards.

TedFredrick

How about an electric SUV. I would have bought one years ago

TedFredrick

He is correct in saying the interior of the Bolt is horrible. It is one of the reasons I didn’t buy the car

Pushmi-Pullyu
“The Volt had seating for just 4, and the rear seats are horrible if you are over 5’6″. Then they priced it JUST over $40k when it came out so that the haters could say, ‘It only seats 4 people and it costs MORE THAN $40,000!’ ” I think there is some truth to the accusation that GM has intentionally aimed its plug-in EVs at niche markets where they won’t sell well, or more to the point, won’t steal many sales from GM’s other cars. However. I think a lot of people are unfairly judging the Volt as if it’s a type of car it was never meant to be. Okay, so the rear seat can’t comfortably seat three full-sized adults. And so what? Most people rarely if ever use their back seats! Sure, if you’re looking for a family-sized PHEV you should get a Clarity, but if you’re looking for a daily driver for a family of two, or a commuter car, then the Volt should fit your needs just fine. As far as the Volt being overpriced: I think GM priced it where they needed to. Let’s remember this car was first sold in 2010, and was one… Read more »
john1701a

“I think a lot of people are unfairly judging the Volt as if it’s a type of car it was never meant to be.”

Volt was promoted as a vehicle for mainstream consumers, a choice that would “leapfrog” the green market leader.

Technology that doesn’t reach ordinary people unsubsidized in high-volume is a failure in that regard.

GM’s leadership fizzled. Their own loyal customers are still waiting to replace their current GM guzzler SUV with.

jim stack

I wish Chevy didn’t stop making the SPARK EV . It was a best buy for 5 years. A 4 passenger 70-100 mile range EV is great for 90% of the people. It’s low cost and lifetime battery make it my favorite used EV.

TedFredrick

Its the loudest car on the market. Undrivable for more than five miles

Viking79

They purposely entered markets with EVs that would sell in less numbers, but there is nothing wrong with that when you are unsure your customers even want a product and don’t want to hemorrhage billions of dollars.

As they progress they are going more mainstream. Their upcoming EVs are going to be more appealing, but probably only targeting 50k per model. They seem to be taking baby steps, for better or worse. Let’s see what GM and VW do in 2020. I am surprised we haven’t seen more about GMs EV coming end of this year, can only keep it secret so long.

EVShopper

Ugly is harsh for the Bolt. It’s a decent looking hatchback. The interior is fine. And it does charge higher than 50kW.

Ziv
EV, the Bolt has a look that is a bit different. Some are ok with it but most think it looks really odd. The interior finish quality is pretty poor. I thought that it looked like low end Chevy small car material, hard plastics and poor design choices. The reviews for the Bolt have been nearly uniform in their admiration for its engineering and negative with regards to the interior, so I am not alone in that opinion. And then there is the issue of how GM chose to go cheap on the front seats. I have seen videos of people putting in a simple piece of foam, 14″ by 18″ maybe, and it apparently makes the front seats considerably more comfortable. GM cheaped out, and it shows. One other option that they could have added to the Volt and the Bolt would have been ACC. I don’t use it, but it is a really important option for a large subset of drivers. I don’t think it has ever been an option on the Bolt, and it wasn’t offered on the Volt until 2017. Could you provide me with a link to the Bolt charging faster than 50 kW? I… Read more »
Ben S

I got to be one of the first people to charge at one of the new EA fast chargers. While I didn’t get much over 50kw, I got to 56-57kw @50%. When I was at low percentage (~20%) I was able to charge at 54kw.

Nix

The small size of the Volt came directly out of the EV1 program, where GM learned that the smaller the car, the better the EV range. In fact, this was held as a universal truth from decades of EV development that nearly every company who built an EV stuck to (with RAV4 EV being the exception).

With the price of batteries at the time the Volt was designed, it made perfect sense that they went with a small car. From the perspective of GM battery engineers, they had just built a MUCH MUCH LARGER car than the EV1. That was considered a great improvement in GM’s long running EV development program.

Also, the original price was planned to be $29K, with the plan being that they would lose some money up front, but quickly drive down the price through leapfrogging the Prius, and biting big into their market share and use volume to drive down prices. Keep in mind the Prius has sold millions of cars. The $40K price was imposed on them because of the bankruptcy.

R.S

There seems to be a big dissonance between how popular people think EVs are and how popular they really are.

If they would be, then why can you get a used one for basically your spare change and whatever is left of your lunch?

We will see 500k and more at some point, but not 2018, no matter how many they produce. Unless they sell them way cheaper.

Nix

There are two factors why used EV’s are cheap:

1) The used price has to be less than the new price minus the $7500 rebate, or most folks would just buy new. This instantly pushes down the price of used EV’s by $7500 dollars. Depreciation for miles and years start there and cuts the price additionally from there.

2) Early EV’s have been technologically surpassed, further driving down prices vs. new.

Actual popularity is actually high, with EV’s having some of the shortest turn-around times on used car lots compared to many ICE cars. https://insideevs.com/six-fastest-selling-used-plug-electric-cars/

William

Does BMW release their separate monthly (split between) sales numbers, of their i3 & i3REx?

An accurate cumulative sales count for N.A., of the Non-Tesla top 3 pure EVs (incl. Bolt, Leaf, and i3 non-REx) would be interesting to observe, as the Model 3 starts to potentially ramp up over these coming summer months (3Q).

Benz

Tesla (S+X+3) sales in May 2018: about 8,000?

Vexar

I’m seeing the S, III, X combination closer to 12,000, assuming steady state for X and S and 3,000 per week on the III. However, a bunch of Model III’s did go to Canada this month, so I feel there may be a lower bet that is safer.

Dan

Unless they are really dim, Tesla’s U.S. sales will be throttled for May and June so they don’t hit 200,000 total sales until July one. The third and fourth quarters will be the real test when Tesla will sell everything they can in the U.S. while the full tax credit is still in force.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Tesla isn’t “dim”, but they need income a lot more than they need to delay passing the 200,000 threshold of U.S. sales.

I think those who believe Tesla is going to stockpile thousands of Model 3’s just to delay passing the threshold until the 3rd quarter, are going to be surprised.

Nix

Tesla has six levers to pull to control US sales. Tesla has been confirmed to have ALREADY started pulling many of these levers. Alone, no single lever is enough, but all 6 levers pulled at the same time might be enough:

1) Divert Model 3 US sales to Canada (confirmed)
2) Divert Model S/X US sales to global markets, including new markets (confirmed)
3) Divert Model 3 production cars to showrooms (confirmed) and demo cars.
4) Delay delivery until July for US reservations already converted to orders (confirmed)
5) Schedule factory shutdowns to update the line prior to the end of Q2 (confirmed)
6) Put a sales hold/embargo on the last few weeks of June production an extra 1 to 15 days at service centers, delivery centers, galleries, factory backlots, etc. This nothing for the automotive industry. Car makers and dealers regularly have holding lots they store cars much longer than that.

Doggydogworld

May+June can’t exceed ~15,000. Might deliver more in May than June.

MTN Ranger

It’s going to be HUGE! Definitely, since I bought my car in May; every little bit helps.

F150 Brian

I think you missed the biggest question:

How many Model 3s will be sold outside of the US (hence delaying the 200,000 mark)

I have several friends (in Ontario) that configured their Model 3 a few weeks ago so Tesla is certainly priming that pipeline.

Doggydogworld

Where else can they deliver 3s besides Canada?

Ziv

Parking garages all over California! 😉
Probably the same ones they used a couple months ago when they were waiting for parts for a lot of the 3’s.

Pushmi-Pullyu

The articles about a few dozen dusty TM3’s sitting around in underground parking garages were pretty silly. A few dozen cars could have been anything, including pre-production testing units that had not yet been crushed. Such a tiny number is pretty meaningless, and auto makers don’t store thousands of cars in expensive underground parking lots. For that kind of quantity, they’re stored outdoors.

Ziv

Pushmi, the videos I saw had 50 or 60 on one level of one garage and there were several levels there. And there seemed to be more than 2 or 3 garages. Plus the 3’s had dust on them. They had been there for more than a few days. It wasn’t a small operation. There were several hundred if not nearly a thousand 3’s stored, and more than a few S’s as well. Go back and watch the videos.
Storing the same amount of 3’s for 2 or 3 weeks would make all the difference between #200k showing up in late June or early July. I don’t know which way Tesla is going to play this, but it would be foolish for them not to try to delay 200k until July. The delay in the profit stream would be minimal.

Pushmi-Pullyu

That’s the point: They can’t deliver Model 3’s anywhere except the U.S. and Canada, and Canadian sales simply aren’t that many.

I think if Tesla was going to take drastic measures to delay passing the 200,000 threshold, then we would have seen indications of that already. For example, if Tesla intended to deliver TM3’s in the EU, then Tesla’s European “final assembly” plant would have been upgraded to handle the TM3. It hasn’t been, because they have no plans to deliver TM3’s there this year.

I think WadeTyhon is correct; Tesla is going to charge ahead and cross the 200,000 threshold this quarter.

Ziv

You may be right, but I hope not. The consequences for Tesla buyers later this year would be painful for Tesla, and that pain would be entirely self-inflicted. They are so close to keeping the full credit for an additional quarter. To throw the full credit away early would be almost stupid enough for it to be a GM sort of decision. But Tesla hasn’t been that short sighted, yet.

EVShopper

They could always delay by doing an extended shutdown at the factory for maintenance and upgrades.

Nix

In fact, they just got done doing exactly that. Shutting down the factory.

Dave

The cars that will put them over the 200K are already built…

Dave

Just a guess for May USA deliveries, Model 3 6500 Model S 1600 Model X 1000, Bolt 1400 Leaf 1900

Haha! I wonder if I will be close on any of them… :)~ I am assuming 500 Model 3 deliveries in Canada in May.

F150 Brian

CTV news is reporting a lot with about 300 Model 3s near Toronto.

Dave

300? Thats inline with my prediction

EVShopper

Don’t think Leaf will do that well.

Taylor Marks

I’m surprised that in all of this there’s no mention of:
#1 – Will Tesla cross 200K sales in the US this month? Many are estimating that Tesla is currently within +/- 2K of that threshold. If they don’t cross it in May, June certainly seems possible. Leads right into:
#2 – How many cars (mainly Model 3, but also S and X) is Tesla not delivering in the US, IE, they would normally go to US customers, but they’re instead going to Canada or elsewhere, or just sitting in storage waiting for July 1st to come, all to avoid the 200K sales mark?

Bustya

A full year later and sales numbers are still hovering around last years numbers? Sales should be increasing exponentially.

The big car manufacturers are doing everything in their power to thwart the electrification of vehicles. The only option available to the general public is the nissan leaf, and it is an unmittigated engineering disaster and will turn scores of people away from evs.

Volkswagon and hyundai could easily sell millions of evs every year, yet they both miraculously didnt order enough batteries, for years now. Even vws recent battery purchase will only double their current ev output spread out over 7 years. If the leaf fails, i think the ev revolution is over because it will give the others an excuse to exit the market.

JUST GIVE US WHAT WE WANT!

MaartenV

The EV revolution is happening outside the USA, in China and Europe.

EVShopper

There is more than the Leaf available. Dont be dishonest.

Alan Campbell

The only wild card for May is Model 3 production. On the way to 5k weekly, could i tbe possible that there were at least 15k deliveries in May?

And with June hitting the 5k mark Model 3 should deliver over 20k units monthly at minumum.

And I think there needs to be a clear split between the actual EVs and the PHEVs dragging around ICE engines in the sales numbers. I see they made the EVs bold, but we needa totals line at the bottom of the spreadsheet for EVs alone because that’s the number to watch. Adding in all the low EV range PHEVs makes a bigger overall number, but it’s distorted.

Don Zenga

Folks – Don’t get disappointed tomorrow if Tesla Model-3 did not sell as much as you expected.

My expectation is 4,000 units of Model-3 and 2,000 units of Model-S/X combined. That’s will take Tesla’s USA sales to 189,000 units.

In 2018-06, they may sell 6,000 units of Model-3 and 4,000 units of Model-S/X combined which may take the total to 199,000 units.

This will ensure that the 200,000 ceiling is hit only in July which means they can get the $7,500 Fed rebate for 1 more quarter.

That’s why they are selling lot of Model-3 in Canada.
Still Model-3 will retain the sales crown as Prius-Plugin is only a low volume car.

William

“Low volume car”, along with low range PHEV, when compared to a 300 mi. + pure BEV Tesla Model 3 (as in Hundreds of Miles you can drive).

floydboy

BINGO!

john1701a

“Low volume car” based on anecdotal observation would give that impression. In reality, the first year was a worldwide rollout, so availability was very limited. Despite that, there were still 51,000 delivered.

Benz

Top Months for U.S. EV Sales to Date (estimated):

March 2018 – 26,373
December 2017 – 26,107
December 2016 – 24,785
September 2017 – 21,242
April 2018 – 19,681

May 2018 will have a position in the top 5 (probably 5th position, but possibly even the 4th position).

And April 2018 will therefore lose it’s 5th position in the top 5.

EVShopper

I like the new Chart layout in the Ev sales scorecard

Frederic Bamiere

From france : as soon as Trump taxes on european steel raise, my dream of a Tesla 3 vanishes…..