Yes, you read that headline right.  March sales were up almost 50% from last month (49% to be exact) thanks to strong performances by the new-to-market Tesla Model S 85D (AWD - non performance version) and the Fiat 500e.  Overall, an estimates 10,341 EVs were sold in March.

The Tesla Model S 85D (like the one we spotted at the NAIAS this January) Lead Tesla To A Yearly High In March

The Tesla Model S 85D (like the one we spotted at the NAIAS this January) Lead Tesla To A Yearly High In March

While Fiat doesn't directly disclose sales, we can tell you than 1,223 Clean Vehicle Rebates were claimed on the 500e in March, that figure is 4.5 times the amount from last month.  Adding in sales from Oregon, we peg 500e sales at 1,310 units for March - a new all-time high, and obliterating any previous monthly number from Fiat.

That massive move jumps 500e sales for the year past not only the Toyota Prius PHV and the Ford Energi twins (C-Max and Fusion), but narrowly past the Chevrolet Volt into 4th overall for 2015.

Separately, Tesla had an incredibly strong last month of the quarter with the new Model S 85D.  We estimate 2,450 were sold in North America, while overall for the quarter Tesla announced they had beaten their own worldwide forecast of 9,500 Model S sedans sold by more than 500 with 10,030 sold in Q1.

Nissan sold near 2,000 LEAFs in March (1,817) which was 50%+ increase from February.  That result gave the LEAF the all-time sales lead over the Chevrolet Volt by a margin of 76,407 to 75,231, but not enough to hold off the Model S from taking over the top spot for sales in 2015 for the US (~4,450 to 4,085).

We should mention that were it not for Fiat and Tesla stealing the show in March, the Ford family of EVs would have taken the spotlight, selling a cumulative 1,692 cars, up 36% versus the 1,242 units sold in February.

On the not-so-good side of the ledger, the Chevrolet Volt fell to just 639 cars sold, and the Prius PHV stayed well below the norms of 2014 with just 473 cars sold - both cars are in limbo waiting on 2nd generation, 2016 model yet to arrive.

Overall, this month's strong result turned overall year-to-date sales positive by a slight margin - 3% (23,339 vs 22,671)

Quirky stat of the month: The total estimated BEVs (all-electric vehicles) sold in March matched the total sales from February almost exactly - 6,949 to 6,951

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on Rebate Data

2015 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla NA Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on Rebate Data

Some Other Point Of Interest From March:

Ford Is Expected To Compete For Most EVs Sold In April With Their Surging Fusion and C-Max Energi Products

Ford Is Expected To Compete For Most EVs Sold In April With Their Surging Fusion and C-Max Energi Products

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla Motors– 2,450*
  2. Nissan  – 1,817
  3. Ford - 1,692
  4. Fiat - 1,312*
  5. BMW - 1,065
  6. Toyota – 477
Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In March*
  1. BEV – 6,949 – 67%
  2. PHEV – 3,392– 33%
New 2015 Highs Set In March (previous high in brackets):
  • Tesla Model S - 2,450* (1,150)
  • Fiat 500e - 1,310* (315)
  • Ford Fusion Energi - 847 (603)
  • Ford C-Max Energi - 715 (498)
  • Volkswagen e-Golf - 195 (181)
  • Chevrolet Spark EV - 151 (119)
  • BMW i8 - 143 (113)
  • Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid - 72 (71)
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV - 10 (5)
Looking ahead:  Against a year ago's results, April is the only (relatively) "easy" comparable to beat until September with 8,895 plug-ins sold in April of 2014.  Look for a win next month and flat to lower result the next four months, until the 2016 Chevrolet Volt and 2016 Tesla Model X lead September and the foreseeable future higher.

The full monthly recap by individual plug-in can be found on our March Score card here.

*-estimated