More Tesla Model S sedans found their way onto US consumers' driveways than in any month prior in 2017 (seen here as taxis in Dubai)

More Tesla Model S sedans found their way onto US consumers' driveways than in any month prior in 2017 (seen here as taxis in Dubai)

In August, plug-in vehicle sales in the US crested 16,000 deliveries, and we noted at the time - "you ain't seen nothing yet" looking ahead to the remainder of 2017.

...turns out, we weren't liars.

September's results got off to a strong start, and continued for the whole month, as more plug-in vehicles were sold over the 30 days than any month prior in 2017.  In fact, EV sales passed the 20,000 mark for just the 2nd time in US history.

The three vehicles that have managed to sell more than 2,500 copies in a month in 2017?  Tesla Model S, Model X ... and the Chevy Bolt EV

The three vehicles that have managed to sell more than 2,500 copies in a month in 2017?  Tesla Model S, Model X ... and the Chevy Bolt EV

In total, an estimated 21,325 plug-ins were delivered, a gain of 24% from the ~17,224 moved a year ago. (full sales chart of each model below)

The result was also the 2nd best all-time for EV sales in the US, surpassed only by last December when 24,785 were sold.

For the year, ~142,514 deliveries have been made, well ahead of this point from last year (106,585).  By the latter half of this month, plug-in sales will have eclipsed the full 2016 total (158,614).

Will the US hit the 200,000 mark in 2017?  It seems almost inevitable.

The needle this month was once again moved by the Model S, as Tesla did its "end of the quarter thing" by focusing almost exclusively on its domestic customers.

The almost 5,000 estimated Model S deliveries and more than 3,000 Model X sales easily made Tesla the number one e-automaker for September, but the wider focus was still on the production miss for the Model 3, as the company managed to only build 260 Model 3 sedans in Q3 (about 1,400 light of estimates), delivering 220.

Other than the Model 3, most plug-in models had exceptional results in September, including the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which took home the "non-Tesla" best selling crown, posting more than 2,600 sales - a new all-time high (and the highest single monthly result in 2017 for any plug-in not made by Tesla).

On the plug-in hybrid side of things, it seems that a wider field of competitors...and the arrival of the Toyota Prius Prime, as adversely impacted some of the stalwarts in the segment, as both the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford Fusion Energi have significantly diverged (lower) than last year's results over the past several months.

A new serious player in the plug-in hybrid segment presented itself in September - the BMW 530e (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

A new serious player in the plug-in hybrid segment presented itself in September - the BMW 530e (InsideEVs/Tom Moloughney)

In the "oh, you sold how many?" category this month, and really the surprise hit of 2017, is the BMW 530e (check out of review of the car here). 

The plug-in hybrid 5-series has seen sales improve each month since it debuted in the Spring, and is now also becoming a force in the PHEV segment - moving more than 500 copies in September.  BMW now looks like it will displace Ford as the 3rd best seller of plug-in hybrids in 2018.

As for disappointments, there was a few of those too, but really the poor decisions by the VW Group this year has continued to push it to the head of the class.

After holding back the "new" longer range 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf to better sell out of old 2016 inventory (yes, the 2017s are just arriving now), the company still manage to botch the inventory situation by waiting too long - resulting in a multi-year low for the model in sales this month.  The same can be said for the Audi A3 e-tron (all-time low with under 100 sales), and the plug-in Porsche Panamera?  Out of stock since last November; the new Panamera 4 E-Hybrid was originally slated for a "mid 2017" launch (but should be available next month).

Also of note for September EV sales:

  • The Tesla Model S sedan's result, and the Model 3's apparently flounder, put it firmly in line to win the 2017 best-selling EV award.  The Tesla now has a ~4,000+ unit advantage over the Chevrolet Volt
  • As for the Volt, despite still retaining 2nd place on the best selling plug-in list, the sales trend is definitely down, and now three vehicles (Tesla Model X, Toyota Prius Prime Chevy Bolt EV) are within striking distance of the Volt - which could find itself in 5th spot by this time next month.
  • smart, despite losing  2/3rds of its US dealers for the 2017 model year as the petrol versions fade out, has found some legs for new 2017 smart Electric Drive, selling more than 100 copies of the new version in its first full month on the market

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** FCA/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data (Thanks to HybridCars for assist on Kia data), Honda Clarity estimated for Aug/Sept

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** FCA/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data (Thanks to HybridCars for assist on Kia data), Honda Clarity estimated for Aug/Sept

Other Statistical Points of Interest from September 2017

The new smart electric drive showed decent results in its first full month on the US market in September

The new smart electric drive showed decent results in its first full month on the US market in September

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* – 8,095
  2. General Motors – 4,112
  3. Toyota – 1,899
  4. BMW Group – 1,861
  5. Ford – 1,577
  6. Nissan – 1,055
Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In September*
  1. BEV – 13,356– 62.6%
  2. PHEV – 7,969 -37.4%
(*) estimated

New Year Highs Set In September By Model (previous 2017 high in brackets)

  • Tesla Model S* - 4,860 (3,450)
  • Tesla Model X* - 3,120 (2,750)
  • Chevrolet Bolt EV – 2,632 (2,107)
  • BMW 530e - 511 (345)
  • Kia Optima PHEV - 228 (182)
  • smart Electric Drive - 123 (94)
  • Tesla Model 3* - 115 (75)
  • Volvo SC60 PHEV - 97 (65)
  • Mercedes B 250e - 87 (81)
  • Honda Clarity Electric - 52 (34)
  • Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid - 27 (23)
The full monthly recap by individual plug-in (all-time) can be found on our Monthly Scorecard here.

*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)