December plug-in vehicle sales was like no other!

December plug-in vehicle sales was like no other!

Plug-in vehicles sales closed out 2016 with a flourish - and epically so, setting the new monthly record for EV sales in the US we had been looking for since the Summer...and it wasn't even close.

Although the first 3 Chevy Bolt EV deliveries technically began on December 13th,

Although the first 3 Chevy Bolt EV deliveries technically began on December 13th, "real" consumer deliveries didn't get started until around Christmas...limiting the sales volume for the month to just under 600 cars.

With all the numbers tallied up, an estimated 24,785 plug-in vehicles were sold in December...which obliterated the former placeholder by more than 7,500 sales! (September 2016 ~17,224).

Against a year ago's result (13,699), sales improved by 81%!

Also thanks to a strong December, we can now happily report that every month of 2016 showed year-over-year gains* for EV sales (and 15 in a row overall).

Overall, sales are up some ~37% for 2016, as ~159,139 plug-ins were sold, as compared to an estimated 116,099 in 2015.  Given the surge in December, and also for the last 6 months of the year (up ~47%), 2017 is shaping up to be a good one.

Specific to December, we had multiple forces pushing the numbers higher, including:

  • a massive pile of November and December built inventory from Tesla finding US homes in December, after AutoPilot 2 hardware delayed most deliveries in October and November causing the company to ultimately miss Q4/2016 numbers,
  • the Chevrolet Volt sold like it never had before (perhaps interested consumers looking for a Bolt and leaving with a Volt?), selling almost 3,700 copies in the month - a new record
  • the Toyota Prius Prime (details) continued to makes its presence known in its first full month on the US market,
  • it's December - which means for everyone looking to "buy" an EV, this is the month that the fiscal 2016 federal credit (worth up to $7,500) expires in...meaning purchases made after December potentially adds an extra year of waiting to receive the benefit of that credit - which added some volume numbers to most of the major brands
  • the Chevrolet Bolt EV (details) arrived; ok, this wasn't a big driver of December's numbers, but it still needed to be mentioned
  • Audi torched former records and sold almost 600 copies of the A3 e-tron
  • the Ford Fusion Energi punted December sales, but the C-Max Energi set a new-all time high with almost 1,300 sales
  • both the BMW 740e and the Mercedes-Benz C350e also arrived on the US market during the month...finally
Also of interest, but not specifically related to plug-in vehicles: the Toyota Mirai sold 116 copies in December and 1,034 for the year.

*On year of monthly sales improvements: We know someone is going to look at the chart and say, "hey, only ~11,467 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, January 13th, 2017 12:45 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:  

Did you know GM has another plug-in car besides the Chevrolet Bolt EV?  The US consumer sure did in December.

For December GM sold 3,691 Volts, good for a 75% gain over the 2,114 sold a year ago.

December's result was an all-time best, passing the 3,351 sold waaaay back in August of 2013.

For the year to date, 24,739 Volts were sold vs 15,393 last year, a gain of 61%., passing the Volt's previous all-time record for most sales in a year from 2012, when 23, 464 were sold.

Also of interest, due to waaaay too many new vehicles being produced at GM's Hamtramck, Michigan facility (Buick La Crosse, Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Impala...and yes, the Chevrolet Volt), the company has extended the winter shutdown of the plant to ~3 weeks.

That excess volume was also evident with the 2nd generation Volt, as national inventories touched 6,000 units for the first time ever (by our count) during the month, before falling back down to around ~5,500 in early January - a time of year that can't match the December excitement.




Chevrolet Bolt EV - looking to make its mark in 2017

Chevrolet Bolt EV - looking to make its mark in 2017

Chevrolet Bolt EV:

On December 13th, GM delivered the first three copies of the Chevy Bolt EV to anxious customers in San Francisco, and in so doing completed the third - of three promises, to consumers from when the EV debuted two years ago in Las Vegas.

-Under $37,500 (MSRP of $36,620) -More than 200 Miles range (EPA rating of 238 miles) -First deliveries by the end of 2017

With that said, those first three deliveries were a little more "PR-spectacle" than first actual retail deliveries, which started to get underway in earnest right at the close of the month.

In total 579 Bolt EVs found homes in December during the last week for sales, but we have to note that there are now a lot of cars en route to customers in January - promising to help boost the overall EV sales result in the US during a month that is typically weak for demand.

During the month GM also gave us a mini-update on the new roll-out schedule for the Bolt EV:

  • EVs are currently in transit to California and Oregon markets
  • a number of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia will see first deliveries this winter
  • Bolt EVs will arrive to more dealerships in additional major metro markets throughout the first half of 2017
  • nationwide at certified dealers mid-2017


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, the LEAF has set back-to-back-to-back 2016 highs in sales in October, November, and now December.

With this month's result of 1,899 sales, the high water mark for the year has been set, after selling 1,457 copies in November.  Apparently the new pricing on the 30 kWh cars was well received.

How rare have sales improvements been before this Fall?  September through December'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).

Year to date, 14,006 LEAFs have now been sold, off 19% from the 17,269 moved in 2015.

As mentioned earlier, 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 $30,680 + DST.

During December, average stocked inventory of the LEAF crept a little higher, averaging around ~2,000 copies, but still not far off historic lows.   Basically, until the inventory improves with the upgraded  and future edition, it is impossible for Nissan to perform much better than it has of late.



2017 Toyota Prius Prime

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime:  

Finally, after 18 months of waiting the first generation Prius plug-in has been replaced.  Enter the all new, much improved Toyota Prius Prime (details) which arrived on US dealers lots on November 8th.

Not only did the Prime arrive in the US in November, but it set a new all-time record for the most sales by a new plug-in product in its first month ever with an impressive 781 sales!

Despite some very limited delivery allocations in the early month, the Prime followed up November's record debut with a strong 1,641 sales in December.

Yes, the Prius Prime is here, and it might just be your 2017 plug-in sales champion for the US.

The Toyota not only features its own unique look, but 25 miles of all-electric range.

But most importantly, the plug-in Toyota is priced right - from $27,950, which after the $4,500 federal credit is applied gives the Prime an effective price of $23,450, a price-point that is actually more than $1,000 cheaper than the base hybrid version...which should eventually translate into very strong sales once the EV is well stocked, as the standard version of the car can sell upwards of 10,000 units in a month.





BMW i3

BMW i3

BMW i3: 

Overall, the BMW brand has been taking a pounding in 2016, finishing the year down 9.5%...and this against a backdrop of stronger sales among all the other OEMs.

And when it comes to plug-in vehicle sales in the US, no model has been more unpredictable than the BMW i3. As an example, the BMW i3 sold 629 copies in November, 442 copies in October, 391 copies in September, 1,479 in July, 608 in June, 814 in April and 182 in January.

Thankfully both longer range/33kWh versions of the i3 BEV (all-electric version) and the i3 REx (extended range petrol version) have arrive in some volume in December (but still not a lot), and BMW managed to sell 791 copies for the month - a four month high.

For the year BMW has sold 7,625 i3s in 2016, compared to 11,024 a year ago - off 31%

Disappointing for future numbers, BMW closed out December with only about 600 units of i3 inventory, which was off about 20% from earlier months.

Truthfully, BMW's inventory managing of its electrified fleet over the past year (now 7 strong worldwide) as been about abysmal as possible, as the company has potentially left 10s of thousands of sales behind globally thanks to an unpreparedness to produce plug-ins to demand levels.  The only question that remains is whether or not it was/is intentional.

Earlier in September we 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 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.

With the majority of November lost due to some production hiccups (and QC holds on finished vehicles) with the introduction of new AP2 self-driving hardware (details on the new suite here), and having also lost a good chunk of October, December was going to have to be a month like no other to even attempt to hit overall Q4/2016 sales estimates...and the production micro-managers were definitely getting paid overtime.

From what we learned during the month of Fremont's production plans, Tesla was queuing regional US production as narrow as by the week, internally calculating for transportation and rail time.  That meant East Coast EVs were being prioritized over Central, and Central over West Coast, and West Coast over California (for the most part).

Basically, with the first two months of the quarter burned on deliveries mostly due to AP2 ramp-up issues, and with a finite amount of production time left in the year to make 2016 deliveries, if the company didn't stack customers orders correctly, there was going to be a huge Q4 miss.

As it turned out the company did wind up with 22,200 deliveries globally in Q4, but that figurewas  still about ~3,800 light of expectations to hit full year guidance.

Naturally, persons ordering in California months ahead of others on the East Coast were not thrilled to see their orders "bumped", but the end result was Tesla delivered like they never had before, and in so doing set a new single-month delivery record for any EV in the US.

For December, an estimated 5,900 Model S sedans were delivered.




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.


Although December didn't appear to start all that well for Tesla deliveries on the Model X, it turned out that was just a bi-product of "building the heck" out of non-California deliveries for all-electric SUVs from late November that needed to catch a train to get to the more remote regions of the US before the year's end.

By mid-December those vehicles were arriving in force in all places "not-California", while those SUV orders destined to stay in state were also coming of the production line and being delivered.  The "production scheduling ninjas" were clearly earning their money attempting to make up for lost deliveries in october in November.

In the end, and like just about every other month in the past, the Model X doesn't seem to be able to be delivered in the same volume as the Model S. Globally for the quarter the ratio of Model S to Model X deliveries was 12.7 to 9.5.

Truth be told, we still aren't 100% sure if it is a production-issue thing, or just a demand thing (as the Model X lineup is a more costly endeavor, and the reviews/reliability reports have not been as favorable as that of the Model S).  Given, the amount of time the Model X has now been out, and the fact there is no evidence of any kind of elongated backlog of Model X orders over the Model S, our hunch is the latter - that the Model S is simply in more demand.

With that said, Tesla delivered a record amount of Model X vehicles in December, we estimate some 3,875 of them...and that ain't bad at all.





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 October, as GM managed to find and sell 3 more copies - which is exactly the number sold this month in December...3.

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

Consider the ELR's mention on this sales list more of an honorary position, as it will leave the tally recap in the new year after 3 years of service.

As for those last few copies , 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 ~30 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.




Volvo XC90 T8 PHV

Volvo XC90 T8 PHV

Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV:

Since the XC90's debut a year ago, the plug-in SUV has found a consistent selling range in the '100s' range over 2016.

In fact, the Volvo had a mini-streak of 10 consecutive months in the '100s', until December.

During this month, the plug-in XC90 just edged the top end of its range, selling 204 copies.

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).




Look! It's the illusive Mercedes C350e

Look! It's the illusive Mercedes C350e

Mercedes C350e:


About ~18 months ago we naively added the plug-in Mercedes C350e to our sales recap, boldly proclaiming it to arrive in the Fall of 2015 - as promised by the company.

Then it was "early 2016", then "Spring 2016", then...well, you get the picture.  At some point we just gave up, and if it happened to arrive and sell...we would report on that AFTER THE FACT.

Well friends, that month is December 2016 as the C350e not only appeared, but it sold a decent amount of cars - some 171 copies!




Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet Spark EV

Chevrolet SPARK EV:  

With the Chevrolet Bolt EV just arriving this month, the Spark EV filled the pure electric car sales "gap" almost perfectly, as inventory has just about exhausted itself in November.

As a result of the changing of the pure EV guard at GM, just 17 were sold in December, after 39 were sold last month - and we expect GM to be virtually sold out in a matter of weeks.

Previously during October, 260 copies were sold, after moving 315 all-electric Sparks in September

Going forward, sales will continue to trickle in for a few months more... but in a mutes fashion, as the last ~60 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 thanks to a "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






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, and it has taken BMW 8 months to...still, not stock it very well.

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.

That said, production and allocation to the US has slowly started to climb...and that has shown to a degree with sales.  After selling just 92 in October, 215 were sold in November...which lead into the last month of 2016, with BMW setting a "new high" with 240 sales.

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

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 had defined the word "consistent" when it comes to plug-in vehicle sales this year, dutifully selling the low 300s each month.

That is at least until November, when things started to break the norm...but in a good way.

After selling almost 400 A3 e-trons in November, Audi destroyed former sales benchmarks and sold 589 copies in December.

Previously in  October, 348 e-tron versions of the A3 were sold.  For the year, the A3 e-tron has sold 300-odd copies in 11 of 12 months to date.

Overall, almost 4,280 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 72 consecutive months of record year-over-year sales in the US.

Part of the reason for strong sales for the A3 e-tron is also the (relatively) low price. $38,900 gets you the Audi badge, 8.8 kWh of battery - good for 17-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 $3,500 of the base MSRP of the A3.

Well that, and you can't get the "sportback" version of the Audi in any other trim level in the US.

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 54 sold in December seems like a reasonable amount vs demand for the city EV these days.

Previously in November, 52 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?"

Truthfully, BMW's apathy to producing and delivering cars as promised in the US sucks the life out of us writing these reports sometimes.

Did BMW deliver any 740es in September?  No.  October?  Nope.  Did it arrive in November?  Once again, no.  Thankfully, some actual "real life" inventory rrived in December...and a blistering 23 were sold!  Still, I suppose we should take what we can did arrive before the year closed.

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 sells 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...that is once they are stocked.





Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi:  

The refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion Energi (details) has been a fairly big hit this year, showing marked improvements since its launch...well, until December anyway.

After selling a record 1,817 copies in November, the plug-in Ford took a bit of breather in December, selling just 1,099 copies, and in so doing relinquished the battle for #3 spot on the "US best seller list" to the Tesla Model X.

Looking at the inventory in the past, it was easy to see why (and how) so many of the new Fusion plug-ins were sold over the past few months;  the Fusion Energi has often won the crown for the "most stocked" EV in the US (before Chevy got crazy with the Volt)...but Ford has been struggling to keep production on pace with demand, and national inventories fell to around 2,000 units heading into January - a year low.




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 mid-2016.

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

So, pretty consistent...until December.

For this month, the GLE plug-in broke with convention and more than doubled it best-ever result, selling 83 copies during the month!

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 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.

Things got back to normal for November selling 52 copies, but a still very impressive 71 were sold in December to close out the year; were it not for October's result, this month would have been the Mercedes plug-in's best.

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 S 550e 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:  

The Hyundai Sonta PHV just recently crossed the 'full year on the market' milestone, and the results to date we would call "ok".

A year ago Hyundai sold about 175 copies of the plug-in best seller, and the sales have slowly gain strength since then.

For December, we estimate 325 were sold in December, a recent high, but slightly off the all-time high set earlier this Summer (~375 July).

(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 likely be an even better seller in the US that it is, as the Hyundai 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 issue has been the company is not fully inventorying the car (not a required offering for dealers), and while it is available to order in all 50 states, you could not actually find a "live" copy to go check out at your local dealership in many of them.  Hyundai typically has about ~300 Sonata PHVs in open stock nationallin the US every month.

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 as sales have fluctuated quite a bit.

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 and lower still with 305 sold in November.

However, things rebounded again in December with 443 sold.

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 will now feature a 35.8 kWh battery, increasing range to ~124 miles and debuted at the LA Auto Show in November (details - launch gallery/video).  Production of the new e-Golf gets underway in December, and we expect to start seeing some copies arrive in the US for late January/early February.

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 every month, we probably would look at C-Max Energi results a lot differently. least that is what we had been saying for the past ~3 years or so.

In December, the plug-in C-Max stepped out of the Fusion's shadow, and sold an all-time best 1,289 copies - 17% more than the Fusion Energi this month.

Thanks to December's surge, and the BMW i3's sales malaise over the past four months, the C-Max Energi has moved past the BMW and settles in at the 6th best selling plug-in for the US in 2016.

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).




<strong>BMW i8</strong>

BMW i8

BMW i8:

When it comes to sales, the BMW i8 (like its cousin i3) had a rough year overall.

After a couple decent strong months in November and October (173 and 199 respectively), the BMW supercar fell back in December to 133 units.

Year to date, 1,594 i8s have been sold, which is now only off 30% from 2015 when 2,265 where moved.

Heading into the New Year, the inventory situation has continued to weaken - perhaps as a response to the winter season. In December just under ~200 units 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 original Panamera S e-Hybrid was never 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".

However, for November sales bucked the trend (perhaps with the last of the inventories on the car selling to make way for the new improved version in 2017).

During November 88 were sold, exhausting supply...leaving only 3 to be sold in December.

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

Speaking of which, the plug-in Panamera's replacement was announced this October - the  Panamera 4 E-Hybrid (yes, the name is just as dreadful), then in November a "Executive" model was added to the upcoming lineup - a feature that stretches the wheelbase even further for the comfort of those who care to be chauffeured.

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 late April!  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 first iteration of the Panamera S E-Hybrid struggles to prove viability, the Cayenne plug-in continues to put more butts in the seats.

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.

For December, the decent sales trend continued, as 152 Cayenne PHEVs were sold, a little shy of  November's result of 179 sales, and a little better than October's 138.

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 arount 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).  For 2016, the yearly estimate total has been adjusted upwards by approximately 500 units over the first 11 months.

For most of 2016, the Fiat 500e was a consistent performer, but over the past few months things have really ratcheted up - thanks to deals such as this one on Black Friday ($49/month with nothing down*), and the 500e remains the most popular compliance EV that many can buy.

With some strong depth of the new 2017 model finally arriving, we estimate ~650 copies of the 500e were sold in December.

As for inventory specifically, in-stock reserves increased by about a third during the month, and ended the year with about ~600 units in stock.




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, falling to around 400 copies in the months that followed.

However, for December sales started to rebound, with BMW selling 569 X5 plug-ins for the month. With that said, the inventory situation continues to be dire entering 2017, with only around ~300 copies in stock nationally.

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

SMART ForTwo ED:  

Daimler had been experiencing a slight rebound in sales for its 2 seat all-electric smart car earlier this year, but that ended just as Summer arrived.

After selling 47 cars in November,  Daimler set a new 2016 low with 40 sales in December.

The sales malaise (and lack of dealer stock) is likely due to the anticipation of a new, next gen offering that arrives in in early 2017 with a new look, and a slight range increase - up to 85 miles.

That new model made its US debut at the LA Auto Show in November - of which one can check out all the specs and details in our "from the show" report - here.


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:  N

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 interested 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 November marked the EV's 57th 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 December ...zzzz...101 more...zzzz....Ford Focus...zzz...Electrics were sold.

The model has sold between 53 and 198 sales per month in 54 of the past 55 months. With just one of those months passing the 200 level ever (August 2014 - 264)

Thankfully, all of that might change, as the 2017 Ford Focus EV started production on November 14th, and should start arriving by late 2016/early 2017.

Most importantly is the 2017 edition of plug-in Focus gets a new, larger 33.5 kWh battery (up from 23 kWh) and a 115 mile range rating (up from 76).  Also added is standard DC fast charging (CCS).  But best of all, the price actually dropped by $50 bucks too - now starting from $29,120.  Full details can be found here, but here is to hoping we break those 100-ish sales doldrums soon!



Kia Soul EV

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 and November with 190 and 179 sales (respectively).  For the last month of the year, 197 were moved.

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 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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