December pushes U.S. EV sales well over the 350K mark

Based on automakers' sales reports and our estimates, we report a total of 49,900 plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in December 2018, compared to last year's 26,107 and last month's 42,588. This makes December the best month of all time for EV sales on our shores. For 2018 as a whole, we saw 361,307 electric vehicles delivered in the U.S., compared to the 199,818 EVs moved in 2017.

It's been a solid year for EV sales as a whole, even though most of the progress was made by a single automaker. The months of August, September, October, and November racked up sales figures that more than doubled those of last year. We said up front that we didn't think last month would be able to double last December's numbers, and we were right. However, it came pretty close.

Our early estimation put December at over 48,000 EVs sold. We'll be honest to say that we were a bit concerned when GM's quarterly numbers came in. Nonetheless, Toyota, Honda, BMW, and Nissan stepped it up to more than make up for the difference.

Six consecutive months in 2018 have claimed a spot on our list of top months of all time for U.S. EV sales, though not in calendar order. While we know full well that the Tesla Model 3 is the most substantial contributor to this new trend, numbers wouldn't be where they are today without the respectable sales of the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Clarity Plug-In HybridChevrolet Bolt EV, and Nissan LEAF.

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

  1. December 2018 – 49,900
  2. September 2018 – 44,544
  3. November 2018 – 42,588
  4. August 2018 – 36,347
  5. October 2018 – 34,074

The Tesla Model 3 tops our chart by acres, with 139,782 estimated U.S. deliveries. This makes it 12 months in a row that the Model 3 has been the U.S. EV sales leader. We estimate Tesla sold a monumental 25,250 Model 3 sedans in December.

Model S and Model X sales were up again in December, though the vehicles remain in the 3rd and 4th positions on the year, respectively. Overall, Tesla delivered an estimated 32,600 vehicles last month, which adds up to well over half of all EVs sold in the U.S. in December.

Based on our estimates - for the year as a whole - Tesla has sold a colossal 191,627 vehicles in the U.S. out of a total of some ~361,307 overall EV sales to date. The automaker continues to officially account for well over half of all electric vehicles sold in the U.S. for 2018. In addition, Tesla alone sold almost as many EVs as were sold in the U.S. by all brands in 2017 (199,826). According to the automaker, it also sold almost as many vehicles in 2018 as it did in all prior years combined.

Let's take a closer look at the other top-selling electric vehicles in the U.S. this December 2018:

The Toyota Prius Prime lands in the five-spot for the month and the second-place position for the year as a whole, with 2,759 deliveries in the U.S. in December.

The Honda Clarity PHEV pulls past the Prime for the first month ever, delivering an incredible 2,770 based on our estimates and Honda's verification. It lands in fourth place for December and pushes past the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Volt to secure the fifth position overall for 2018.

Nissan LEAF sales jumped up to 1,667 in December, to close out the year strong. It's in sixth place for December, putting it ahead of multiple vehicles that usually surpass it. However, a combination of weaker months leaves it in the eighth position on the year as as a whole.

Based on our research, BMW 530e sales were up considerably in November, which resulted in a record month for the plug-in. Fortunately, the automaker pushed even harder in December and broke its own record, selling some 1,363 5 Series plug-ins. The 530e finishes 2018 in the nine-spot. While BMW's all-electric i3 hasn't succeeded sales-wise as of late, its plug-ins are faring well as a whole as usual. When compared to its primary rival -- Mercedes -- it's worlds ahead. We believe that of all OEMs, it will be the one that continues to rise up and make waves in the near future.

Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Bolt EV sales ... we don't want to talk about it. All jokes aside, we needed to adjust our monthly estimates for Q4. GM reported lower numbers than we expected. In addition, after a strong November, the automaker had exhausted inventory, which resulted in very weak December 2018 U.S. plug-in sales. Nonetheless, the Volt closes out 2018 in sixth place, followed by the Bolt EV in seventh.

We'll close out the month with the usual final data points and another look at our completed sales chart.

Other Statistical Points of Interest from December 2018

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* – 32,600
  2. Honda – 2,857
  3. BMW Group – 2,774
  4. Toyota – 2,759
  5. General Motors* – 2,479
  6. Nissan – 1,667

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In December*

  1. BEV – 36,861
  2. PHEV – 13,039

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In 2018*

  1. BEV – 237,216
  2. PHEV – 124,091

*Based on estimates due to the lack of U.S. monthly sales reporting by Tesla and GM, as well as BMW i3 splits (BEV + REx), and multiple automakers refusing to reach out or reply related to individual EV sales.

*You may notice that we updated that last few months. Fortunately, Honda offered us actual Clarity splits, so our Clarity PHEV and BEV totals are correct on the year, and December totals are exact as well! We're hoping we can get some other automakers to provide "real" numbers going forward.

2018 U.S. EV SALES JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC TOTAL
Tesla Model 3 1875 2485 3820 3750 6000 5902 14250 17800 22250 17750 18650 25250 139,782
Toyota Prius Prime 1496 2050 2922 2626 2924 2237 1984 2071 2213 2001 2312 2759 27,595
Tesla Model X 700 975 2825 1025 1450 2550 1325 2750 3975 1225 3200 4100 26,100
Tesla Model S 800 1125 3375 1250 1520 2750 1200 2625 3750 1350 2750 3250 25,745
Honda Clarity PHEV* 604 911 1131 1129 1639 1495 1542 1462 1997 2025 1897 2770 18,602
Chevrolet Volt* 713 983 1782 1325 1675 1336 1475 1825 2129 1475 2530 1058 18,306
Chevrolet Bolt EV 1177 1424 1774 1275 1125 1083 1175 1225 1549 1975 2825 1412 18,019
Nissan LEAF  150 895 1500 1171 1576 1367 1149 1315 1563 1234 1128 1667 14,715
BMW 530e* 224 413 689 518 729 942 536 749 756 733 1012 1363 8,664
Ford Fusion Energi 640 794 782 742 740 604 522 396 480 453 1131 790 8,074
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid** 375 450 480 425 650 710 450 654 637 623 895 713 7,062
BMW i3 (BEV + REx)  382 623 992 503 424 580 464 418 461 424 490 356 6,117
BMWX5 xDrive 40e* 261 596 627 563 499 321 431 264 225 224 213 210 4,434
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 300 323 373 273 297 390 350 366 378 309 376 431 4,166
Kia Niro PHEV* 155 246 227 120 218 281 225 346 313 323 619 316 3,389
BMW 330e* 101 142 202 166 150 138 106 192 195 229 373 606 2,600
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* 145 199 214 189 267 238 220 240 230 210 180 265 2,597
Volvo XC60 PHEV* 109 155 167 141 214 226 185 210 215 180 225 240 2,267
Fiat 500e**  210 235 285 215 250 225 220 75 94 100 148 193 2,250
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid* 1 2 49 336 275 168 195 200 210 170 200 230 2,036
Mercedes C350e* 29 172 208 158 166 176 165 170 82 75 80 240 1,721
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV* 22 178 218 180 217 143 180 43 11 128 136 134 1,590
Mini Countryman SE PHEV* 127 100 74 106 163 211 210 128 140 117 74 114 1,564
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV* 99 106 93 90 126 133 115 125 120 100 130 150 1,387
Volkswagen e-Golf  178 198 164 128 76 32 18 32 14 62 230 222 1,354
smart ED  84 90 103 80 110 126 103 108 98 95 100 122 1,219
Kia Soul EV 115 163 157 152 133 57 130 33 18 61 61 54 1,134
Porsche Cayenne S-E* 113 121 197 265 59 12 15 45 60 25 35 75 1,022
Mercedes GLE 550e* 44 70 181 93 83 75 85 90 42 28 35 140 966
Kia Optima PHEV* 86 103 156 142 98 83 90 39 17 51 79 21 965
Honda Clarity BEV 153 74 48 39 34 86 102 75 108 106 37 86 948
BMW i8 32 39 47 57 64 45 72 67 55 64 133 97 772
Ford C-Max Energi 234 142 105 57 18 6 4 4 12 0 0 0 582
Mercedes GLC 350e*   5 57 59 64 66 60 65 27 20 24 120 567
Ford Focus Electric  70 73 137 83 88 50 46 7 4 0 1 1 560
Hyundai Sonata PHEV* 52 54 78 38 67 62 60 20 15 5 5 4 460
Volvo S90 T8 PHEV* 27 29 52 29 30 35 30 40 45 35 40 45 437
Jaguar I-Pace                   5 165 223 393
Hyundai IONIQ EV 49 3 60 7 32 47 35 21 12 21 34 24 345
BMW 740e* 18 23 31 60 17 16 40 18 25 45 18 28 339
Cadillac CT6 PHEV* 6 24 17 42 30 18 26 23 11 12 13 9 231
Mercedes B250e  40 49 33 7 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 135
Mercedes S550e* 13 3 11 9 7 7 8 10 8 5 4 11 96
2018 U.S. Sales Totals 12,009 16,845 26,443 19,623 24,307 25,029 29,598 36,347 44,544 34,074 42,588 49,900 361,307
2017 U.S. Sales Totals 11,004 12,375 18,542 13,367 16,596 17,046 15,540 16,514 21,242 14,315 17,178 26,107 199,826
2018 Worldwide Sales* 82,000 81,000 141,000 128,450 159,346 160,894 144,975 175,362 206,500 214,800 237,553 286,367 2,018,247

Above - 2018 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers. *Estimated Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Monthly or Quarterly Totals. ** Estimated (Based on State/Rebate Data and other reports). BEV models are designated with the icon.