November 2018 U.S. Plug-In EV Sales Report Card: Model Recaps
Individual Plug-In Model Sales Recap For Major Models: November 2018
(Limited to vehicles with ~500 sales/or potential for 500 sales in a given month)
The Chevrolet Volt entering January 2017 found itself continuing an unfortunate streak of nine consecutive months of year-over-year losses. 2017 fourth-quarter sales alone were down some 3,000 units from the previous year.
January 2017 sales made it ten months of losses in a row, as 713 were sold, some 55.7% lower than the previous year (1,611). For February, the Volt continued its downturn with a total of 983 sold, which was 46% lower than 2016’s impressive 1,820. However, still up significantly from the previous month’s numbers.
It started to become more than obvious that the Volt’s stablemate, the Chevy Bolt EV, was stealing the Volt’s thunder. For as many months as the Volt was down and dropping, the Bolt was up and gaining. Keep in mind, this definitely wasn’t a bad thing, just different … and, in all honesty … better. It meant less gas burned!
Partway through 2018, the tables began to turn and Volt sales exceeded that of the Bolt EV. As we previously explained, GM has decided to stop providing monthly sales figures. With that being said, we estimate each month and then reconcile (if needed) at the end of each quarter.
Official Volt sales from GM were right on target with our estimates at the end of Q2 2018. Chevrolet sold 4,336 Volts in Q2. Volt deliveries continued gaining ground as expected. To close out Q3, Volt sales were up nicely once again. According to our estimates and GM’s quarterly report, GM sold 2,129 in September.
For the month of October, we estimated that Chevrolet delivered 1,475 Volt plug-ins.
According to our estimates, GM sold an incredible 3,930 Volts in November.
Chevrolet Bolt EV:
The Chevrolet Bolt EV made its debut in December of 2016, as a 2017 model. However, it wasn’t technically available nationwide until August of 2017, but only a handful of copies landed in those 30-odd new states during that month.
That began to change in September 2017. More evenly spread inventory led to rapid Bolt EV sales growth, notching 2,632 sales during that month.
October 2017 brought 2,781 deliveries, but November took that number even higher, as 2,987 sales were made. For December, GM eclipsed the 3K threshold by moving 3,227 Chevrolet Bolts, finishing 2017 with a 10-month streak of sales gains.
As stated above, we estimate GM EV sales every month and then official numbers come from the automaker on a quarterly basis. We hoped Bolt EV sales would shine in 2018, especially after six pretty solid months to end 2017. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case, but still, the Bolt has continued to remain near the top of our sales chart with respectable numbers. For several months, its plug-in stablemate (the Chevrolet Volt) has outsold it, so much so that Volt sales are ahead of Bolt sales on the year as a whole. In September, GM sold an impressive 1,549 Bolt EVs, but 2,129 Volts were delivered in the same month.
However, the tables turned again in October 2018, according to our data and research. Our October estimates put Chevrolet Bolt EV sales at 2,075.
GM delivered a whopping 3,025 Bolt EVs in November, based on our estimates.
The Nissan LEAF entered February as the oldest offering on the U.S. market – going on almost 90 months now.
As you all know, it has been replaced by the updated 2018 Nissan LEAF, which debuted in September (full details here).
Is the new LEAF better?
Yes, in almost every way, including ~43 more miles range (up to 150 miles from 107) for $700 less. Not enough? A ~225 mile, higher performance trim level will arrive for the 2019 model year. To top it off, it will finally have active thermal management for the battery pack.
Sadly, Nissan USA proved not as capable as Nissan Japan, which managed to launch the new LEAF as planned in October (to some very impressive results), while the U.S. (and Europe) had to wait until January. This wouldn’t be a problem if the wind-down of the first-gen 2017 model wasn’t pre-planned to be defunct by October.
The resulting gap between the ‘new’ and ‘old’ left Nissan with almost no remaining inventory, which caused sales in October 2017 to drop to just 213 deliveries, ending an impressive eight-month run of four-digit results. In November, that number dropped further, to 175 sales. December — the best-selling month for EVs — saw only 102 LEAFs delivered. We’re pretty sure Nissan was wishing it had done things differently, as the LEAF closed out 2017 down some 20% overall.
2018 cars didn’t begin arriving until January 2018 in small numbers and they were pegged for reservation holders. Nissan told us it would be mid-February before another shipment of LEAFs became available at dealers for new buyers, which we figured would result in a sales bump, albeit small.
With all of this being said, LEAF sales got off to a rough start in 2018. However, since March, deliveries have been more consistent and even somewhat promising, with over 1,500 copies sold in its best three months this year. The automaker reported an impressive 1,563 LEAFs delivered in the U.S. this September and 1,234 in October.
Moving on to November, LEAF deliveries are down again, at 1,128.
Toyota Prius Prime:
After setting a new high of 1,908 in May 2017, it was expected that with deeper inventory the Prime would be headed much higher.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and a ‘doubling’ of stock (to around 2,000 units), only resulted in 1,899 sales in September. An additional 50% gain in inventory for October (up to ~3,000) actually resulted in a lower number – 1,626 sales.
For November 2017, inventory levels stayed fairly strong, averaging slightly more than October, which translated into better sales, but still a relatively disappointing 1,834 deliveries, given the higher expectations for the year’s end.
For December, the Prime saw a record sales month, with 2,420 sold. This put the 2017 total at 20,936, landing Toyota’s plug-in the fourth place spot overall for the year as a whole.
Moving into 2018, Prime sales have been up and down. The automaker delivered a whopping 2,900 in March and May, but sales have failed to eclipse 2,000 copies other months. Still, the Prime handily holds the number two spot on the year as a whole.
Toyota delivered 2,213 Prime plug-ins this September and 2,001 in October.
According to Toyota, Prius Prime deliveries in November reached an impressive 2,312.
The BMW i3 entered the U.S. market with a bang in 2014, but it’s too bad that the initial fireworks display of sales back then was the peak – we just didn’t know it at the time.
For 2017, BMW i3 sales were a mixed bag.
Sales got off to a rough start, with just 182 moved in January, and 318 in February. The tune changed drastically in March (which given the i3’s track record is not all that surprising) with 703 sales made, a 118% gain over March of 2016. However, for several months after March, sales hovered around 500-600 units, until October when almost 700 were moved yet again.
For November…trashbags, as the company recalled all of its i3 vehicles due to a safety issue (for people who chose to NOT wear their seat belts if you can believe that) and put a ‘stop sale’ on the model for a time. Just 283 i3 vehicles were sold during a month that is historically one of the best in terms of EV sales.
Quite frankly (and notwithstanding this recall), the i3 as it stands today is likely too expensive for plug-in vehicle buyers. So, if BMW wants to sell the EV in volumes like it did in the past, it’s going to have to sharpen its pencil considerably.
In late August 2017, BMW proved it still really didn’t understand the issue behind lackluster sales or the i3 itself, by releasing a new, slightly sportier trim level – the i3s (full details here). The car received some new styling details, some wider tires and some extra performance (+10 kW), but what the public really seemed to want was a longer range option and a price cut (the new i3s is ~10% more expensive in most markets).
2018 models began to be delivered in December and i3 sales accelerated from November’s totals considerably. The German luxury automaker delivered more than double the previous month’s total, at 672 to close out 2017 with 6,726 sold.
For 2018, BMW i3 sales in the U.S. have failed to impress. The best month so far this year was March at 992 delivered. However, a majority of other months have been in the 400-500 range. BMW reported 461 i3 sales for September and 424 in October.
BMW sold a total of 490 i3 vehicles this November.
Tesla Model S:
Tesla doesn’t give out exact monthly sales (apparently because the public can’t handle the concept of regional allocations and delivery lead times). For this reason, we never know for sure what the monthly numbers total up to until Tesla’s quarterly (or annual) updates add more clarity. However, we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s 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. This is surely not how it works in the real world. We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, including first-hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself, and the number is what it is (see below).
Revisions/disclaimer to the accuracy of prior estimates: The 2016 Model S chart has been adjusted (via U.S. Q3 data leaked directly from Tesla) by 469 units in Q3, and 525 units in Q4. The 2015 chart was adjusted (one time) 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 report it, 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’re not analysts or portfolio managers and we don’t own any positions in TSLA the company.
While Tesla continues to conform to a familiar quarterly pattern of prioritizing international production early in the quarter before transitioning to domestic output, there has been somewhat of a change/reshuffling of priorities as of late.
The name of that priority is Model 3.
As we mentioned in 2017, it appeared Tesla knew fairly early that volume production would not be close to guidance by the end of Q3, and quickly refocused in an attempt to make that a reality by the end of Q4 (investors need to be kept happy we suppose).
The end result is that production energies and skilled labor normally assigned to Tesla’s original EVs were diverted from the Model S and X to getting the Model 3 back on course. Tesla seems to be more focused on net sales than setting a specific S and X target, but international deliveries also play a role. All-in-all, we may see Model S and X sales flat or even lower over the course of 2018.
Additionally, the automaker recently pushed back Model S and X delivery timelines by several months. It was said that this was due to a spike in orders for the vehicles, likely due to the attention Tesla is getting from the Model 3, and also because many people are having to wait so long for their Model 3, so they’ve opted for an S or X instead.
With all of this considered, it’s becoming increasingly clear Tesla is picking and choosing how it will skillfully hit its delivery targets. This means that sales figures for the Model S for December 2017 and January 2018 were down from the previous year’s numbers.
As 2018 moves on, Tesla Model S sales follow a similar pattern. Whille its clear U.S. deliveries won’t match that of 2017, Tesla has still done a solid job of keeping the needle moving. The automaker ended Q3 with an impressive 3,750 Model S deliveries in the U.S. for September, based on our estimates. In October, our research and data put U.S. Model S sales at 1,350.
According to our estimates, Tesla sold a fantastic 2,750 Model S sedans in the U.S. in November.
Tesla Model X:
Like the Model S, Tesla does not report Model X sales, so we do our best to estimate monthly results for the U.S. using all the data at our disposal (For more info on that, check out our disclaimer for the Model S)
Historical accuracy/Sales Update (Oct 11th):
Tesla’s leaked U.S. sales data for Q3 2016 put U.S. 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. Though we don’t attest to being experts, 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 were within ~200 units.
Since we don’t want to bore you by explaining the same thing twice, have a look at the Tesla Model S recap (above) and then come back here.
All done? Good … welcome back.
Like the Model S, Model X production has been sacrificed as Tesla attempts to prove itself more capable of building the Model 3. Tesla directed to some 10% less production of the Model S & X in Q4 of 2017. Keep in mind, however, that all cars and regions are not created equal.
Aside from lower sales volume due to the Model 3, for the months of December and January, Model X sales seemed to be business as usual (despite the long-winded explanation above). In December 2017, we estimated that Tesla moved 3,330 electric SUVs compared to the 3,875 sold in the same month of 2016. We estimated January 2018 Model X sales at 700, down a touch from last year’s 750.
Looking at more recent delivery numbers, our estimates show an incredilbe 3,975 Model X crossovers sold in the U.S. in September. For October, we reported that our research and data sees 1,225 delivered in the U.S. in October.
Based on our researched estimates, Tesla sold an incredible 3,200 Model X crossovers in the U.S. in November.
Tesla Model 3:
Just ~16 months after orders opened, and ~10 years since it was first announced (then known as the “Bluestar”), the first Model 3s were delivered on July 28, 2017! One can check out the full delivery ceremony and all the newly released specs (220-310 miles range, 0-60 mph in 5.1-5.6 seconds) on our full recap here.
As with Model S & X sales, Tesla is not planning to release monthly Model 3 sales in the U.S. at this point in time. Until then, we’ll do our best to estimate monthly results for North America using all the data at our disposal (For more info on that, check out our Model S disclaimer).
Historical accuracy/Sales Update (Nov 1st): Q3 2017 sales of the Model 3 were adjusted up 2 units.
Thankfully, in the early days (Q3 2017), estimating Model 3 sales in the U.S. was a pretty easy task, as the complete delivery volume for July took place live at the July 28th delivery event in Fremont, California. The first 30 cars were delivered to Tesla employees/stakeholders in the U.S., and one could almost count the individual cars as they left Tesla’s Fremont factory in August.
For September, we had Tesla’s quarterly disclosure that put deliveries at 222 cumulatively for the quarter, meaning about 117 were delivered. Truthfully, the monthly numbers were meaningless in Q3. Instead, all eyes were on production. While the company guided to some 1,630+ to be produced, just 260 were built.
Of course, much chatter arose as to why. Tesla generically blamed “production bottlenecks.” The company, looking to re-assure, said at the time:
We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term.
From our perspective, Tesla realized fairly early in July that the September goals would not be met. Following the future ‘S-Curve’ goal into year’s end was going to be problematic. It appears from that moment on, rather than working on “near-term” production and deliveries, Tesla has been working more proactively with the main goal of simply being able to show volume production by year’s end – something originally targeted for the end of September.
While this thought process was never officially confirmed by the company, a quasi-confirmation came with the admission that Model S and X production would be off 10% in Q4 2017. Additionally, we saw the effects of manpower being transferred into transitioning the Model 3 production from “burst” output (or start and stop if you will) to a more consistent, ordered structure.
While it was only speculation on our part (as it was for several months while watching the happenings around the car), we believed Tesla was desperate to provide confirmation of a “decent” sustained production level for the Model 3 by the close of the year … and we were right.
To that end, progress to a certain degree was definitely made in November, as more cars than ever did actually find employee driveways (and orders also opened to the public mid-month … well at least to the first batch of locals anyway). Though Tesla only delivered an estimated 345 Model 3s in November, this number was a notable jump from prior months.
Tesla publicly reported delivering 1,060 Model 3s in December, for a grand total of 1,772 on for 2017. Additionally, Tesla dialed down the target of 5K a week, to 2.5K now, and set the 5K production level back to June.
Adding up all Tesla vehicles delivered in the U.S. in 2017 brought us to an estimated 50,147. Global deliveries passed the 100K mark for the year as a whole (~103,000), making 2017 Tesla’s best year to date, despite Model 3 shortfalls.
While Model S and X sales were both down a handful for January based on our estimations, Model 3 sales were up again compared to last December’s numbers (one would sure hope so!) However, they weren’t up as high as projected or expected.
We estimated January Model 3 sales at 1,875. Basically, we took the 860 vehicles in transit in December, plus the ~500 vehicles produced in each of the first two weeks of January (and those 15 extra vehicles from December that Tesla assured were ready to go but not yet scheduled for delivery), and projected that the automaker was able to successfully deliver these cars prior to the close of the month. This makes sense since Tesla was still looking at three to six weeks for the entire process to unfold.
For February, we assumed that most of the remainder of the Model 3s manufactured in January made their way into owners’ driveways. Added to this, we gather that some early February production was delivered prior to the 28th of the month. We should also point out that an anonymous source with close ties to Model 3 production made us aware that the line was down for as much as a week at a time over the course of the prior month or so due to timing issues with the robots. This was later verified by the automaker. Our February Model 3 delivery estimate was 2,485.
As expected, Tesla dialed up Model 3 production for March considerably, and according to the automaker’s Q1 sales report, future prospects were looking up. You can read the whole report by clicking here. Tesla delivered a grand total of 8,180 Model 3 sedans for Q1 2018, with March sales at an impressive 3,820.
One less day in April, similar production numbers in comparison to March, and a brief shut down meant that April’s Tesla Model 3 deliveries remained very consistent with the previous month. Knowing that fixes had been made in Fremont and the Gigafactory, we looked forward to a surge for May, followed by a leap in June to end Q2. Still, our Model 3 April delivery estimate of 3,750 was impressive considering the circumstances, and there was no doubt the popular electric sedan would continue to dominate our sales chart.
Tesla has successfully ramped up Model 3 production considerably as of late. Despite the shutdown, our estimates show that the month of May was a huge gain from prior months. According to our research and data collection, we saw May’s Model 3 deliveries at 6,000. During the month of June, Tesla ramped up Model 3 production even further, resulting in our delivery estimate of 8,300, which was supported by Tesla’s delivery report. However, we discovered that at least 2,300 of those made their way into Canada, while an estimated 5,902 were delivered in the U.S.
Disclaimer/Historical accuracy: We’ve adjusted Tesla Model 3 delivery estimates down ~3% for Q2 2018 due to new information confirming deliveries to Canada, which was previously unavailable (August 10, 2018).
Tesla delivered a whopping 14,250 Model 3 sedans in the U.S. this July, according to our researched estimates. As if that wasn’t good enough, an estimated 17,800 Tesla Model 3 sedans were delivered in August. According to our estimates, Tesla delivered 22,250 Model 3 sedans in the U.S. in September.
Our estimated October U.S. Model 3 delivery number sits at 17,750.
This November, Model 3 sales impress once again, at 18,650 in the U.S.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid:
Editor’s note: FCA does not split out sales data for the plug-in Pacifica, so we try our best to estimate that number from month-to-month until hard/verifiable data is gleaned.
The much-anticipated plug-in extended range passenger van arrived in January of 2017, albeit in stealth, stuttered, and very limited in fashion.
Due to some odd quirks with production timing and plant scheduling, we had an on/off/on/off/quasi-on start for the Pacifica Hybrid as it relates to deliveries. Then there was QC holds, then launch delays.
Finally, the Pacifica Hybrid officially arrived on “Earth Day” April 22, 2017, and customers enjoyed a good three to four weeks of arriving inventory … until the wheels fell off (not literally).
By June 10, 2017, a nationwide recall was announced, and all 1,677 Pacificas sold in the U.S. and Canada had to head back to Chrysler to get a faulty diode replaced that could cause loss of power when in operation. We won’t get into all the details from there (check out our June 2017 sales report for more info).
Thankfully, by September, the kinks appeared to have been worked out just in time to see its Windsor, Ontario assembly plant go down for the entire month of October for pre-scheduled updating of the facility to comply with U.S. regulatory/safety tooling on the Grand Caravan.
Nonetheless, customer orders and dealer stock began flowing once again and the 2018 model arrived. Our estimates reveal that Chrysler delivered 637 Pacifica Hybrids in September and 623 in October.
For the month of November, we estimate an all-time record for Pacifica Hybrid sales, at 895 delivered!
Ford Fusion Energi:
The refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion Energi (details) was a fairly big hit in 2016, showing marked improvements throughout the year.
Heading into 2017, the Fusion Energi crossed back into “four-digit land” in March, as 1,002 Energis were moved … joining a club of just five others at that level. The month of May showed a repeat of such numbers, but sales have stayed in the 700s ever since.
Looking at the inventory in the past, it was easy to see why (and how) so many of the Fusion plug-ins were initially sold. The Fusion Energi often won the crown for the “most stocked” EV in the U.S., until Chevy got crazy with the Volt and Bolt EV.
With that said, Ford began struggling to keep production on pace with demand (or rather managing inventory lower). After having almost 3,000 in stock in mid-June 2017, that number fell below 2,000 units by the start of September, as the industry-wide summer shutdown/changeover to MY 2018 was underway. This inventory level flatlined through the end of 2017, for 9,632 deliveries.
For the first half or so of 2018, it seemed the story remained the same as 700 was the new magic figure for Ford’s midsize plug-in. However, over the course of the past few months, that story has changed. Ford sold 480 Fusion Energis in September and 453 this October.
Ford Fusion Energi delivries surge in November, with a surprising 1,131 sold.
Welcome to the “big time” BMW 5 Series! By “big time” we mean selling more than 500 copies and getting an individual recap on our sales scorecard.
The plug-in hybrid’s $52,400 starting price point makes it the cheapest of the 5 Series to own, and thus a strong seller. After crossing 500 sales in both September and October of 2017, an amazing 872 were moved in November, followed by 706 in December – shooting the plug-in BMW up our sales chart.
For 2018, 530e sales have been somewhat consistent, at an average of some 600-700 per month.
Our estimates indicated that BMW delivered 756 530e vehicles in September and 733 this October.
This November, BMW sold 1,012 5 Series Plug-ins, according to our estimates.
BMW X5 xDrive40e:
The BMW X5 plug-in had an unexpectedly strong debut in the U.S. in 2016, which only got stronger over the year. In fact, the electrified BMW SUV had seen sales as high as 876 units in 2016 (August 2016).
Then 2017 happened, and sales disappointed. During the first 10 months, numbers ranged from the 260s to the 480s.
With just 329 sales in October 2017 and 333 in September, we confidently predicted the X5 plug-in would be leaving our recap list in 2018 … then came November. The month brought an all-time best 929 deliveries, which made the BMW the sixth best selling plug-in for the November! In December, sales were down, but still strong at 832, pushing the X5 just out of the top ten for the year as a whole.
While inventory is still low, we’re happy to be able to report that the 2018s are here in volume. Hopefully, enough plug-in SUVs will eventually arrive that BMW can once again make a push to achieve the four-digit mark!
Based on our estimates, BMW deliviered 225 X5 plug-ins in the U.S. in September and 224 in October.
Our research and data shows some 213 X5 plug-ins were delivered in November.
Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid:
The Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid arrived in November of 2017. Only five copies were sold that first month, followed by an incredible 898 in December. At that point, we were going to add the new plug-in to our recaps, but we decided to give it a few months to settle in.
January deliveries fell to 594, however, that’s still outstanding for a new addition to the segment during a weak sales month. February brought a nice surge back up to 881 sold, pushing the Clarity PHEV within reach of the best-selling vehicles in the segment.
Now, the Clarity PHEV finds a new home in our recaps, and it’s obvious it earned it well. The addition of the Clarity was much-needed, as it comes at a time that we have recently eliminated the Volkswagen e-Golf, Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, Ford C-Max Energi, and Fiat 500e due to not meeting the sales threshold.
The Clarity PHEV starts at $33,400 before rebates. It’s powered by 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, with a total system output of 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. The Clarity boasts a 47-mile EPA all-electric driving range, making it the closest PHEV all-electric range competitor to the Chevy Volt. Charging takes 2.5 hours with 240-volt power or about 12 hours on a 120-volt household outlet.
Honda sold 2,220 Clarity models in September. Based on our estimated splits, the automaker delivered a record 2,028 Clarity PHEVs for September. Honda delivered a total of 2,100 Clarity vehicles in October. Our estimates found that 1,935 of those were of the PHEV variety.
This November, Honda sold a total of 1,903 Clarity vehicles. Based on our estimates, 1,857 of these were of the plug-in hybrid variety.