October plug-in sales in the US rose an adjusted 17.5% over a year ago

October plug-in sales in the US rose an adjusted 17.5% over a year ago

A year ago plug-in electric vehicle sales were pretty bleak, with October of 2015 showing the 6th consecutive monthly pullback.

Now a year later those old results seem far in the past, as this month's result - while not the huge gains we have been used to, still marks a full year's worth* of gains.

Tesla Model S is without sales equal in the US for 2016 (shown here from the 2016 Paris Motor Show)

Tesla Model S is without sales equal in the US for 2016 (shown here from the 2016 Paris Motor Show)

In October, an estimated 10,832 plug-in vehicles were sold, which was up 9% compared to a year ago, as the wider market struggled with dealing with lower normal result from some market leaders.

Editor's note:  An a adjusted basis, EV sales were up 17.5% in October, as there was just 26 selling days in October 2016, as compared to October 2015

Last month in September, a record ~16,794 plug-ins were sold (full details), a 67% increase over a year ago (10,134), and well higher than the previous record month, set in June of this year (15,063).

Overall for 2016 a total of about 120,500 plug-ins have been sold, against ~92,330 sold in the first 10 month of 2015 - good for a gain of ~31%.

Chevrolet Volt takes home the

Chevrolet Volt takes home the "top selling" crown for October in US

Unlike in the previous months few month, Tesla did not lead the charge, as the start of a new quarter and an assembly changeover to allow for new fully self-driving hardware to be included on all new production, put deliveries on the back-burner.

One should note this was not an "unexpected event" for Tesla, but one likely planned many, many months ago...meaning that the delivery estimate for "over 25,000" EVs globally in Q4 made last week still applies.

Looking ahead, sales are only going to skyrocket higher, as two aggressively priced plug-ins arrive in December - and Tesla will be doing an even more accelerated end of quarter push:

  • 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - 238 miles of all-electric range from $37,495 (details)
  • 2017 Toyota Prius Prime - 25 miles AER/54 MPG plug-in hybrid from $27,960 (details)
We will just go ahead and pencil in a December sales number starting with a "2" right now...

Separately: the fuel cell Toyota Mirai sold 103 copies, bringing the YTD total to 813

*On year of monthly sales improvements: We know someone is going to look at the chart and say, "hey, only ~11,447 sales were made in May of 2016, when 11,540 were logged in 2015!  What gives InsideEVs?"  What gives is - through an odd scheduling quirk, only 24 selling days were reported in May 2016 (versus 26 in 2015)

Last update: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016, 3:07 PM

Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle's monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.  (Previous year's monthly results can be found on our fixed Scorecard page here)

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers, NA for X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers - *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers, NA for X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Individual Plug-In Model Sales Run-Down:

Next Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Next Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt:  

The production of the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV (and its announced 238 mile range) got underway in October, and as such cast a fairly large shadow over the best selling plug-in of all-time for the US.

After becoming the first plug-in vehicle to cross the 100,000 sold threshold in the US in July (selling more than 2,400 copies), the Volt has continued to be a strong seller.

In October, GM moved 2,191 copies of the Volt - the best result of any plug-in model for the month, and bringing its year-to-date total up to 18,517 - good for a 63.9% gain.

We do have to note that the gain has come almost entirely from year-over-year comps with the outgoing first generation model...until this month.  October was the first year the new edition was competing against itself.

The 2,191 sales this October represented just a 7.7% gain over 2015, when 2,035 next gen Volts were sold.

The recent strong sales can also be attributed to the inventory situation. Have more cars...will sell more cars.

And for October, GM stocked the Volt like never before, crossing the ~6,000 level for the first time in, well...as long as we can ever remember.  Does the overstocking of the Volt have something to do with the distraction of the start of production for the Bolt EV this, or does GM feel that the additional spotlight of the 238 mile all-electric compact will also life Volt sales?




Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF:  

It is no secret Nissan is struggling with the first generation LEAF in the US as it ages into a much needed upgrade shortly.

Yet despite that, October set a new yearly high for the model, as an unexpected 1,412 copies were sold (details) ...and this after 1,316 were moved in September.

How rare have gains been?  October and September's gains were the first for the EV in America in 20 months (you'd have to go back to December of 2014 to other year-over-year increases).

Of note: With October's numbers added in the LEAF's all-time US sales total, 100,241 sales have now been achieveed since December of 2010, making the Nissan the second plug-in vehicle, and first all-electric car, to hit the number (the Chevrolet Volt crossed 100k earlier this Summer, and now sits at 107,267 sales)

Year to date, 10,650 LEAFs have now been sold, off 28% from the 14,868 moved through the first three quarters of 2015.

With a superior LEAF set to debut in the not-so-distant future, it appears Nissan is actively managing its existing 2016 inventory lower in the US - as that model (especially in the now defunct 24 kWh version) might prove fairly hard to move in 2017.

We should note that the entry level price to the 30 kWh/107 mile edition of the LEAF was lowered with the 24 kWh trim level's removal - the 30 kWh LEAF now has a starting MSRP of $32,450 + DST and now includes DC fast charging and 6.6 kW Level 2 abilities.

During October average stocked inventory of the 2016 plumbed new depths, to around ~1,500 units on average.   Basically, until the inventory improves with the upgraded edition, it is impossible for Nissan to perform much better than it has of late.





Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR

Cadillac ELR:  

Well, that is just about it for the Cadillac ELR, as an exhausted inventory has nothing much left to give.

After selling just 15 in July, sales in both August and September plumbed new depths, with just 6 sold in each month.  That is until this month, as GM managed to find and sell 3 more copies - bringing the YTD total to 526.

June was really the last hoorah for the plug-in, as Cadillac managed to find and sell 94 ELRs.

As for those dwindling inventory supplies, they now won't last long as GM discontinued ELR production at its Hamtramck, Michigan facility in February and the sell-off has been on ever since. Between dealers and what is in GM's pen we count maybe ~40 copies left at best before the car is gone forever.  The ELR will shortly be replaced with the much larger CT6 plug-in sedan (details)


Of note: The 2016 edition of the ELR did gain some performance over the 2014 model (0-60mph comes up in 6.4 seconds - 1.5 seconds than the older model), despite still using the same 17.1 kWh battery found in the original, first generation Chevrolet Volt.




BMW i3

BMW i3

BMW i3:

When it comes to plug-in vehicle sales in the US, no model is more unpredictable than the BMW i3.

As an example, the BMW i3 sold 391 copies in September,  1,479 in July, 608 in June, 814 in April and 182 in January.

For October, the magic number was 442, as both longer range/33kWh versions of the i3 BEV (all-electric version) and the i3 REx (extended range petrol version) arrived in the US in September, but still in some very limited numbers.

On average in October, BMW had about 700 copies in stock during the month, a slight gain over September's level.

In September we also got all the US EPA specs on the new 33 kWh i3 REx (details), namely 97 miles of all electric range, backed up by 83 miles of petrol abilities - for a total of 180 miles of driving range; numbers that most US customers didn't seem all to please with (considering the 22 kWh 2016 version had a cumulative 150 mile rating).

Fortunately, we have been able to have the opportunity to have a long term/first hand review on both trim levels.

  • BMW i3 (33 kWh) BEV - read InsideEVs' own Michael Beinenson's 1,000 mile report here
  • BMW i3 (33 kWH) REx - read InsideEVs' own Tom Moloughney's first drive comparison here




2014 Tesla Model S

2014 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales (apparently because the public can't handle the concept of regional allocations and delivery lead times)… so we never know for sure what the monthly numbers total up to until Tesla's quarterly (or annual) updates add more clarity, but we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening.

To come to an estimated monthly, number, we don't simply take the quarterly estimate given by Tesla and divide it by 3 and hope it all works out...it just doesn't work like that in the real world.  We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, the first hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself when available - and the number is what it is (see below)

Revisions/disclaimer to accuracy of prior estimates: The 2016 Model S chart has been adjusted (via one time via US Q3 data leaked directly from Tesla) by 469 units.  The 2015 Model S sales chart was adjusted (one time - after the completion of the full year of estimates) by 498 units to compensate for confirmed full year numbers.  The 2014 sales chart was adjusted (one time - again after the end of the full year of estimates) 611 units to compensate for full year numbers.  While past success is no guarantee of future results, InsideEVs is quite proud of its sales tracking for the Model S over  the years.

That being said, we only estimate this number because Tesla does not, and to not put a number on Model S sales would be to paint an even more inaccurate overall picture of EV sales. Despite our fairly accurate track record, we are not analysts, portfolio managers and we do not own any positions in Tesla the company.

After just completing Q3 and surpassing expectations by selling 24,821 during the 3 month period - 16,047 of them being the Model S, and of those 9,156 in the US, sales hit a roadblock in October.

And that roadblocks name was "fully self driving hardware", or enhanced Autopilot if you will.

Here is the thing, Tesla announced that all new vehicles are now coming equipped with the new fancy autonomous swag (forward facing radar, 8 cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors, and new 40x better on board computer,etc)...but that sort of changeover doesn't happen immediately, and ongoing orders schedule for production find themselves in limbo for a time.

Tesla reported that hardware news on October 19th, but in actual fact the change over started happening on Monday, October 10th according to our sources.  So basically to our understanding of the situation,  as soon as Tesla was done pumping out as many (non-upgraded) EV orders (and inventory) as they could to hit Q3 guidance, the October new order production in the company's Fremont factory went into a hiatus/lull of sorts.

Those new orders held in the system (by virtue of not being attempted to get out in Q3) got emails shortly after the product announcement (~3 days later) asking if they wanted to upgrade (including most all of the new P100DLs that CEO Elon Musk says he was pleased with the demand for).  As for "new" orders, they now find an expected delivery date of December/January for the most part (which, if history is our guide, will definitely get filled in December) as Tesla is forced to play catch-up.

As such, new order deliveries were (comparatively speaking to September) non-existent, and for the first time ever, Tesla likely sold more  pre-built/abandoned (for enhanced hardware) "inventory" cars in October than via orders...which is also why many Tesla customers (and just general enthusiasts) of late have noticed a much more prominent featuring, and "don't call them discounts" price-adjustments of now discontinued/built product.

For October, we estimate that Tesla sold 925 Model S sedans in the US..and the little voice in our head suggests we might be too high if anything.

We should note that no one should 'freak out' over October's result, as the lower sales this time around was not because of an unexpected roadblock/production hiccup, but one in which Tesla had likely planned more than 6 months ago.

Meaning the company forecast to deliver "more than 25,000" EVs in Q4 made just last week, is inclusive of this known factor...and that December is going to be a very big month for Tesla, and also a huge month for US plug-in sales, already forecast to peak during that month.

/the more you know




Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X: Like the Model S, Tesla does not itself report Model X sales, so we do our best - with all the data at our disposal to estimate monthly results for North America as best we can (For more info on that, check out our disclaimer for the Model S)

Historical accuracy/Sales Update (Oct 11th):

Tesla recently leaked US sales data for Q3 2016 put US deliveries at 5,428 Our own Q3 estimate  was 5,800 for North America, which includes Canada (which ended Q3 with 389 registrations for the quarter), meaning 5,787 were actually sold - and not to brag...but that means we were only off by 13 units in Q3.

Previously in Q2 2016, Tesla reported 4,625 Model X deliveries...our estimated scorecard got within about ~55 units of the actual number (accounting for just a handful of international Model X deliveries). In Q1 we where within ~200 units.


The third quarter, and really September, was a demonstration of what Tesla can do via production and deliveries.

And as soon as the end of the quarter neared (and sales estimates) were reached, the whole thing was imploded to make available a new enhanced hardware suite that will someday bring about "fully self driving" EVs.

If one wants to know the "ins and outs" behind the number, and why hardly any ordered Model X SUVs found their way into US customers hands...go check out the Model S story/recap on the situation - it basically mirrors what happened for the Model X.

Nutshell: early month production = international Model X production finished out, as it was needed to get done for December/end of Q4 deliveries, mid-to-late month = North American delays (and interruption of ongoing deliveries) for tooling/order conversions on self driving hardware

Like with the Model S, we feel that "inventory"/abandoned Model X order deliveries outpaced ordered vehicles for the first time.

For October, we estimate that ~725 Model X vehicles were delivered in North America for the month.






Volvo XC90 T8 PHV

Volvo XC90 T8 PHV

Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV: 

The first (and widely anticipated) plug-in offering from Volvo to be offered in the US arrived late last year, and the company posted 226 sales in its first full month in January.

Since then, the XC90 plug-in has found a consistent selling range in the '100s' over 2016

For October, that number was 142 copies, after previously moving 148 in September

The Volvo XC90 T8 (details) plug-in is rated at 394 hp, and gets 14 miles of estimated range (0-12 in pure all-electric mode) via a 9.2 kWh battery, and is the first to offer a standard 240v/120v dual charging cord set.  Pricing starts at $68,100 in the US.

Check out a recent electric range and efficiency test drive video review on the XC90 T8 here.

It will be interesting to see how much demand there is for the first extended range PHEV in America once it really gets its footing (and some decent inventory).




Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet SPARK EV:   

With the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV arriving in just about 4 weeks time, the Spark EV has filled the sales "gap" almost perfectly, as inventory just now has exhausted itself at the end of October.

During this month, 260 copies were sold, after moving 315 all-electric Sparks last month.

Going forward, sales will continue to trickle in for a few months more... but to a much lessor extent, as the last ~150 or so copies find homes.

We checked in with GM to see if there was any hidden inventory left and GM basically confirmed what we had know to be true for the last 6 months of so.

"The 2016 Model Year is the final year for Spark EV. We produced our last in the summer and are now selling remaining inventory."

So closes the chapter on GM's 82 mile all-electric car, which very uncommonly found itself in a sales boon during its last months.  All thanks to a new "geared-to-income" EV rebate program in California that kicked off this past Spring, which led to the monthly lease cost of the Chevy Spark EV falling to just about....zero.

Yes, that is right, if you made under 3x the federal poverty limit (35k, or 73k for a family income for 4)  - go find a dealer willing to knock off about $1,000 bucks from the Spark EV - and you get a free EV.

As one might expect under that program, Spark EV got a lot of notice and a sales shot in the arm shortly thereafter.






2017 BMW 330e - Like All Plug-Ins Sold In The US, It Wisely Is Offered In Black

2017 BMW 330e - Like All Plug-Ins Sold In The US, It Wisely Is Offered In Black

BMW 330e:  


One of the latest offerings to hit the US plug-in market is the new BMW 330e, the plug-in hybrid version of the company's high selling 3 series offering.

The 330e (from $44,695 including DST), physically arrived in April in a token amount, but it will take some months (if not the whole year) for inventory of consequence to arrive as the model has proven exceptionally (and unexpectedly) popular in Europe.

BMW noted in July that sales globally have gone so well that the 330e is effectively sold out for the remainder of 2016 (same goes for the just released 740e)...meaning the US will only get its rationed allotment of cars for quite some time.

For October, 92 BMW 330es found new homes in the US, after 54 were sold previously in September.

Ultimately, whenever BMW is able to build inventory, we expect the 330e to easily be able to see 500+ units per month.

We should note on that subject that we actually started to see more inventory starting to arrive in late October - up to about ~250 on average, which is a big increase after ~7 months of only having around 100 in stock.  Hopefully, this is the start of consistently deeper volumes, and higher sales.

As for the specs, the final EPA 'real world' range rating of just 14 all-electric miles  (via a 7.6 Kwh battery - 5.7 usable) was a disappointment for some hoping for a number closer to 20, but with a 75 mph top speed in "Max eDrive", it is a capable offering (featuring a 2 liter turbo inline 4) and should satisfy the traditional BMW crowd and be a strong seller.

The electric motor develops 87 hp with maximum peak torque of 184 lb-ft, when combined with the petrol engine, the total output jumps to 248 hp, with a peak torque of 310 lb-ft, allowing a sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and  a top speed of 140 mph.




Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron:  

Audi has defined the word "consistent" when it comes to plug-in vehicle sales this year.

For October, 348 e-tron versions of the A3 were sold, the 9th time this year "300-and-something" have moved.

Just check out the last 6 months results: 348-Oct,312- Sept, 346-Aug, 349-July, 353-June, 361-May.  Our prediction for November?  Hrm, lets go with ~350.

Overall, almost 3,297 copies have been sold...a not insignificant contribution to the US plug-in vehicle sales scene.  That said, Audi is still certainly not in the "big boys" category for EV sales, but also is definitely not in the "also rans" either.

Quirky fact not really related to EV sales, but certainly aided with the arrival of the A3 e-tron, the Audi brand has now set 70 consecutive months of record year-over-year sales in the US - but it was super close in October, as 2016 results only beat 2015 by 21 vehicles...so they needed every last on of those A3 e-tron sales this month (which were not part of the tally in 2015 until its debut in December).

Audi has also been proving the statement "you need to stock it, to sell it", as sales have grown stronger with inventory levels.  But there may be a slight hiccup happening with the inventory during the model year changeover however as we did note that stock fell to under 1,000 units (on average for the month) for the first time in quite awhile in September, then lower still in October to around ~800 units (off from a high around ~1,400 units),.

Part of the reason for strong sales for the A3 e-tron is also the (relatively) low price. $37,900 gets you the Audi badge, 8.8 kWh of battery - good for 22-odd miles of real world driving...and federal credit of $4,158, which is significant because this brings the e-tron package down to within $2,800 of the base MSRP of the A3.

Check out our own early/pre-delivery review on the Audi A3 e-tron here.




Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED

Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED (B250e): 

Perhaps it has because the bar has been continually lowered for the B-Class ED (now actually named the B250e), but the 58 sold in October seems like a reasonable amount vs demand for city EVs these days.

Previously in September, 51 were sold.


The B-Class has a bit of a rough go since its entry to the US. The original model year run (2014) was extremely short, the 2015 edition came late and without much fanfare or inventory, and the 2016 edition was hit early with a stop sale (which has now been resolved) then was cut-off at the knees with a lack of a "stock inventory" program by Mercedes.

It appears now that Mercedes has decided to make the B-Class a limited offering in the US until a new, longer range model arrives in the future (more on that below).


Last Fall we also heard news (via a normally very reliable source) that Mercedes was about to get serious with the B-Class ED, giving it an estimated 300 mile (NEDC) ~225 mile EPA range upgrade in next generation trim, while also removing the Tesla drivetrain/components to bring costs down.

Then in August we saw the B250e sister car in China get a new 62 kWh battery pack (likely good for close to 200 miles of real world range), that might foreshadow what Daimler has in store this autoshow season for the all-electric B-Class.




Oh you know the new BMW 740e comes in black!

Oh you know the new BMW 740e comes in black!

BMW 740e:  

BMW took the lead for "most plug-ins" offering in the US in September, as the 740e (details) joined the company's lineup.

At least we thought they did...but by month's end we found ourselves asking, "Where the flip is the 740e?"

Even for the bulk of October none were to be found, but then just as the month closed (literally) a smattering of cars surfaced.  So, see you in November 740e!

Like the BMW 330e, the 740e is both a new plug-in product, and one that is in high demand.  Even before the first copy was sold in the US, BMW has announced that all the global production for the 740e is spoken for in 2016...which means the US will be getting a token amount over the next ~6 months or so.

What will the demand ultimately be for the 740e?  It is hard to say, but the $89,100 starting MSRP (less federal credit of $4,500) makes it near price identical to the 740i xDrive, and only a couple thousand more expensive than the "base" 7 series (at $81,500).

Given that BMW sell some 1,000 copies of the 7 Series on average in the US, it is not unreasonable to think a few hundred of the 740e could be sold each month once they are stocked.




Look! It's the illusive Mercedes C350e

Look! It's the illusive Mercedes C350e

Mercedes C350e:  

While again we didn't see that "first sale" made in September, we have been told that the C350e Plug-In Hybrid is indeed a real car, and is expected to be on sale soon - from a quite reasonable, $45,490.

That said, the extended range C-Series (which zips to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds) was originally expected to debut in the US in the Fall of 2015, then was delayed into 2016, then Spring of 2016, then the Fall....well, you get the picture.

Although, we have to say our hopes to see this plug-in hit the US market in 2016 took a bit of a hite this month, as the C350e's listing on Mercedes USA website has now been removed, and the car also doesn't exist under MNUSA's special "hybrid and electric" or even its "Future Vehicle" tab.

See you in 2017 C 350e?  We hope so.






Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi:

Update: After a FIRE at Ford's HQ delayed on the 1st of November, the data has now been releases...just slightly delayed.

Did the US consumer warm up to the refreshed, longer range 2017 Ford Fusion Energi (details) that debuted in June?

You bet they did, as Ford immediately crushed previous results, setting a new multi-year high that month, selling 1,700 copies of its (now) 21 mile, extended range EV!

Through the Summer and into October, the momentum has continue to roll for Ford.  This month a very healthy 1,372 copies were moved - not a year high, but around the moving average for recent months.

However despite 5 months of very strong sales, a very hot US market for the Tesla Model X, saw the all-electric SUV pass the Ford this month for the #3 spot on the top sellers list.

Looking at the inventory and it is easy to see why (and how) so many of the new Fusion plug-ins sold over the past few months;  the Fusion Energi has often won the crown for the "most stocked" EV in the US...but it does seem that Ford is struggling with the strong demand for the 21 mile AER plug-in hybrid, as the average dealer stock fell to around ~2,400 units in October - the lowest level of the year.






2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In

2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In:  

Whoosh - is the sound of Prius PHV sales as the remaining inventory circles the drain (now out of production for over a year). It is all over. See you in late 2016 as the all-new Toyota Prius Prime hits the market (more on that later).

In October - zero sales were made...as we think all the old inventory is pretty much gone.

For September, Toyota managed to scrounge up 4 copies of the old Prius plug-in to sell...a 100% increase over the 2 moved in August.

That being said, if the Prius Prime actually arrives with some time left in 2016, the company could still end the year with a bunch of sales on the book, as the new 25 mile Prius plug-in is expected to compete for the sales crown in 2017.

The new Prius Prime was recently aggressively priced from $27,950, subtract the $4,500 federal incentive the Prime qualifies for, and the upcoming 2nd generation plug-in Prius is more than $1,000 cheaper than the base hybrid.

Given that the standard Prius hybrid traditionally sells around 10,000 cars a month, the sales ceiling for the Prius Prime is certainly high - and we could be looking at the 2017 plug-in sales champ for next year...quite a turn around indeed.





Latest Plug-In To Arrive In The US - the 2017 Mercedes GLE 550e (which to no one's surprise, also comes in black)

Latest Plug-In To Arrive In The US - the 2017 Mercedes GLE 550e (which to no one's surprise, also comes in black)

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e:  

With all the fanfare of...well, absolutely nothing, the first GLE 550es quietly slipped on to Mercedes dealer lots in June.

The plug-in SUV then proceeded to sell 19 copies in its debut month, followed by 30, 24 and 26 thereafter.

For October, it was more of the same - with 19 sales logged.

We spoke with Mercedes about its GLE 550e, and as it turns out the SUV is available only as a special request factory order (by your local dealer, or by customer order)...and is not a "stock program" (think Ford Focus EV for a handy reference as to what this means).

Normally the sales recap would not be the place to go over the particulars of what a plug-in can do - but 99.9% of readers probably didn't even know it existed until we mentioned it, so here goes...

Price: from $65,550 Engine: 3.0 L turbo, combined with electric motor puts out 436 hp Acceleration: 0-60 in 5.3 seconds All electric range: 10 miles (12 blended) - 42 MPGe

/now you know



Mercedes S550e Plug-In Hybrid

Mercedes S550e Plug-In Hybrid

Mercedes-Benz S 550e:

When it comes to plug-in luxury, there is a new boss in town! Having arrived in 2015, the Mercedes S550e presents a level of refinement previously unseen in the EV segment for the US.

That said, the "new boss" comes at a hefty price, and only by special order.


For October sales, the plug-in Mercedes surprised...no shocked us with its results.  After setting a new all-time high in September with 41 sales, the model did 4x better in October - selling an amazing 174 copies - which is BMW i8 territory.

Despite its huge footprint, and pretty heavy weight (just north of 5,000lbs), the electric motor and turbo 6 cylinder still manage to zip the Mercedes to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, while giving the car 24 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway.

Currently, range is rated at 12+ miles with the Prius-like "electric + gas" tag, meaning you have to drive with a certain light-footedness to get the 20 miles on just electricity. The S550 has a 8 kWh battery on board, so expect about a $4,700 federal tax credit with your purchase.

NEW for 2017:  The 550 H will be getting a new, larger battery - up to 13.3 kWh (details), which should give the massive tourer about ~20 miles of real world/EPA range.  The plug-in luxury car will also be the first vehicle to offer a factory-installed wireless charging option in 2017, Mercedes notes this option will be made available on all new plug-in offerings in the future.



2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV (<em>... in black)</em>

2016 Hyundai Sonata PHEV (... in black)

Hyundai Sonata PHV:   

January was the first month the Sonata plug-in was even decently stocked, and Hyundai sold an estimated ~175 copies of the Sonata plug-in, foreshadowing that it will be a strong player in the EV space for 2016.

Since then sales have been steady, with an estimated 250 sold in October, after selling about 260 cars in September by our figuring.

(As always, Hyundai is not keen to split out a specific number themselves, so we have to go by what rebate and dealer information there is to go on).

The Sonata PHV should be a decent seller in the US as it offers an attractive mid-size PHEV value. The Hyundai has been rated at 27 miles of range and pricing starts at $34,600.

The only question now is if Hyundai will inventory it like sister-company Kia with the Soul EV (as in hardly at all). During October about 250-odd showroom copies were on hand on average in limited states - although the car is available by customer order in all 50 states, which could push sales abnormally higher than would be expected with present inventory levels.

With $4,919 dollar worth of federal credit also on the table thanks to the car's 9.8 kWh battery, the effective $29,681 price-point (+dst) is acceptable; however, when factored into a lease, it makes the plug-in version of Sonata almost as inexpensive as the petrol version.





Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf:

It has been hard to get a read on the sales demand for VW's all-electric Golf for the most part this year, but the picture seems to be clearing up now.  And it's fairly decent.

After setting a year's best in August (with 454 copies sold), Volkswagen improved on that number again in September, selling 529 copies, before setting back down to 407 sales in October.


Overall sales for 2016 are are slightly higher (1%) against last year's results (3,189 vs 3,151).

We should note that these sales levels are relatively strong considering a recently announced range upgrade coming mid-year for the 2017 edition (December/January-ish) - which has served to pretty much keep demand in check (and inventory's low) until that car's arrival.


As mentioned, some sales help is on the way, as Volkswagen will have a first mover advantage of some sort upgrading the range on today's e-Golf.  The 2017 plug-in VW (details) will now feature a 35.8 kWh battery, increasing range to ~124 miles and will debut next month.

Also of interest, VW outlined its plans passed the refreshed e-Golf from the Paris Motor Show in October, stating that the all-electric I.D. will enter production in about 3 years time, and will have 400-600 km (249-373 miles) of range.  (We should note that estimate was given on the optimistic Euro/NEDC scale - in term of real-world/EPA estimated miles, we would expect 180-270 miles...still a pretty big spread)




Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi:

If it wasn't for the impressive results of the Ford Fusion Energi, we probably would look at C-Max Energi results a lot differently.

With that said, the plug-in Ford does find itself in a mini-slump after notching 571 sales for October.  In the previous two months 689 and 755 were sold (respectively).

The C-Max Energi now ranks as the 7th best selling plug-in for the US, just a few sales behind the BMW i3, but also finds itself being pursued by another BMW - the X5 plug-in, just a few hundred sales behind.

Despite these results, we expect that the C-Max Energi will live only as long as it takes to introduce a Ford's new "Model E" lineup in Spring of 2019 (offering both a compact car and crossover utility vehicle).

For the short term future, Ford has confirmed the 2017 C-Max Energi will head into production this November, and it will also get a slight refresh (not the full treatment we saw in Europe, but a light alteration from the 2016 North American version).

Given the Fusion Energi's recent all-electric and MPG upgrades (see details above under the Fusion Energi recap), we expect the C-Max Energi to get a similar boost at the same time.




<strong>BMW i8</strong>

BMW i8

BMW i8:  

When it comes to sales, the BMW i8 (like its cousin i3) had a pretty rough start to the year.  In fact it was terrible, but unlike the i3, sales have since stabilized and improved as 2016 has progressed.

After selling a solid 158 i8s in September, the plug-in supercar from BMW sold 199 copies in October - a new 2016 high.

Year to date, 1,288 i8s have been sold, which is still off 13.6% from 2015 despite the recent surge, when 1,491 where moved.

Heading into November, the inventory situation has weakened some - perhaps as a response to the winter season (although year-end sales are traditionally highest in December thanks to the $7,500 Fed credit logistics and the current tax year). About ~300 are currently available for sale - a year low.


Also of note:  More and more whispers point to the fact that the next BMW i8 will not only have a lot more power on tap (up to 750 HP), but that BMW will be offering the 2nd generation i8 as a pure electric car - perhaps in order to better compete against the likes of the new Tesla Model S P100DL.




Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: 

The Panamera S e-Hybrid seems not able to recover from the arrival of sister SUV, the Cayenne S e-Hybrid...which is quite frankly a superior offering when it comes to "bang for the luxury buck".

After having a rare resurgent month in August (selling 59 copies - its best result since 2014), things returned to normal in September and October, with 28 and 38 sales being made respectively.

Basically, the upcoming refresh probably can't come soon enough.  

Speaking of which, the plug-in Panamera's replacement was announced this month - the  Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (yes, the name is just as dreadful).

Good news is that it gets AWD, twice the L2 charging speed (7.2 kW vs 3.6 kW), and a 50% larger battery that gives the Porsche 31 miles/50km of NEDC/EURO range...which translates to about 25 miles in the US (up from the 16 miles found in the original).  Bad news?  It isn't expected in the US until around June!  Boo!

The high mark for sales on the Panamera was set in the very first month it went on sale, with an amazing 141 sold in January of 2014.






Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid

Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid:

While the Panamera S E-Hybrid struggles to prove viability, the Cayenne plug-in continues to put more butts in the seats.

For October, the decent sales trend continued, as 138 Cayenne PHEVs were sold, besting September's result of 131 sales.

While the Panamera S E-Hybrid struggles to prove viability, the Cayenne plug-in continues to put more butts in the seats.  In September, the decent sales trend continued, as 131 Cayenne PHEVs were sold.

Amazingly, Porsche has only strengthened sales in the US this year, despite added pressure from the likes of the BMW X5 plug-in and Tesla Model X in the plug-in utility class.

There has even been enough demand of late for Porsche to introduce a premium "platinum edition" of the plug-in Cayenne.

And while the e-drivetrain/abilities of the Cayenne and Panamara are very similar, Porsche customers have spoken - they want the Cayenne, as sales of the plug-in SUV outnumber the sedan usually by a ratio of about 5-to-1.

Even Porsche seems to have noticed, as inventory of the plug-in SUV has only increased through the past few month, averaging close to ~400 units of late.




Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e:  

When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don't report sales).

Chrysler/Fiat has been giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.

UPDATE: After initially have some issues getting data on the plug-in Fiat, more registration and rebate data is now available. That being said, the number is estimated. Historically, the average margin of error per month has been about ~40 units in those moments when some confirmed data leaks out (usually from a recall).

So far in 2016, the Fiat 500e has remained a consistent performer, although the model itself has proven somewhat unreliable...at least if you go by national recalls (and fairly serious ones at that) - the 500e recently netted its 3rd such notice in June, due to a power inverter module that can experience voltage spike, which in turn can cause the propulsion system to shutdown at speed, which Chrysler says can "increase the risk of a crash".

Despite all that, the 500e remains the most popular compliance EV that many can buy, we estimate 345 copies were sold in October - which is actually a touch lower than the norm for the year to date as the 2017 model year as been a bit slow to arrive.  As one might expect, October inventories of the 500e fell off some, averaging about ~450 copies of the 2016 edition during the month according to our count.




x5 xDrive40e

x5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e:

The BMW X5 plug-in has had an unexpectedly strong debut in the US...and it has only gotten stronger and stronger as more time passes.

In fact, it easily wins the award for "best newcomer" in 2016, which was topped off by the all-time best 876 sales that were made in August!

Perhaps not unexpectedly, subsequent monthly sales drop off a touch while the company attempted to replenish new inventory on dealer lots.  In the following two months, BMW sold 482 plug-in SUVs in September, and 406 in October.

Also in October, inventory of the X5 plug-in stay very tight, with around a 30 day supply available to be had from local BMW dealerships.

This month's result keeps the X5 plug-in solidly inside the "top 10" best sellers for the US, currently sitting in 8th place after passing the Fiat 500e in June.

Check out our first drive review of the 13 mile AER BMW x5 xDrive40e here.





<strong>smart ED</strong> - As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car

smart ED - As Always, Black Is The Proper Choice When Selecting The Color Of An Electric Car


Daimler had been experiencing a slight rebound in sales for its 2 seat all-electric smart car earlier this year, but that ended in June as sales reached a near-low for 2016 with just 53 sales.

We say near-low because October is the new low water mark for the smart ED as just 43 were sold.

The malaise (and lack of dealer stock) may perhaps be in anticipation of a new, next gen offering that arrives in December with a new look, and a slight range increase - up to 85 miles.


The all-time record for sales in one month was set in December of 2014 when 351 were sold.  The smart Ed ended 2015 with 1,387 sold - good for the 13th on the top selling plug-ins list for America.




Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric:  

Do we really have to keep reporting on individual month's sales for the Focus Electric?  Every month is practically a carbon copy of the last...serious.


Another month, another nap for those interesting in following the sales progress of Ford's first all-electric offering.

The Ford Focus is one of the longest available electric cars on the US market - and October marked the EV's 55th month to log sales in America, yet it never strays more than ~100 units from selling 150 copies per month.

Seriously - never more than 100. It seems almost impossible...yet there it is...the Focus Electric, selling 100ish cars month in and month out.

For September ...zzzz...73 more...zzzz....Ford Focus...zzz...Electrics were sold.

The model has sold between 53 and 198 sales per month in 52 of the past 53 months. With just one of those months passing the 200 level ever (August 2014 -264)

--- New hotness!  In August we exclusively broke work on that long promised "100 mile" upgrade for the Focus Electric.  The battery moves from 23 kWh to 33.5 kWh, which according to our calculations should net the all-electric Ford about 110 miles of range.  The car also gets DC fast charging as promised - check out all the details here.

We should note that the 2017 Focus EV doesn't start production until mid-November, so this new, longer ranged Ford probably won't be available until very late in 2016.  And while one might assume higher sales are in sotre as a result (they might for a couple months), it is still fairly unlikely as Ford doesn't promote/stock this plug-in as regular inventory - you basically have to go ask your Ford dealer to order you one.



Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV


Kia seems to be emulating the Focus Electric with the plug-in Soul EV...and that is not a good thing.

Having straying far from the 100 unit mark during in its first two years on the market, Kia broke with tradition entering year three!  ...and sold 217 copies in September!

Ok, it's not that exciting of an accomplishment, it is a new all-time high for the brand.

Then things fell back to normal in October with 190 sales.


Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US?

A note on the Kia numbers: Kia has decided to not split out data on the Soul EV from the regular petrol version, despite several attempts by ourselves to convince them it would be a good idea to do that. As Kia is one of the OEMs we don't have a strong relationship with, we defer to our friends at HybridCars.com to provide the sales info.

The cute-ute from Hyundai/Kia has a more than decent 93 miles of range (with more 103 miles of range in the city), and a price tag of $33,700 (full details, specs and picture can be found here). We expect the advent of the Kia Optima plug-in and the upcoming 110-mile Hyundai IONIQ Electric to signal the end of the Soul EV by 2017.

OTHERS: Plug-in vehicles that have ended sales/production are included in our chart under this heading. They include (but are not limited to) the Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda Accord PHV, Porsche 918 Spyder

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