October 2018 Plug-In EV Sales Slide Into Top Three Of All Time


While October was behind September’s surge as expected, it was still one of the best months of all time for U.S. EV sales.

Based on automakers’ sales reports and our estimates, we report a total of 34,094 plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in October, compared to last year’s 14,315 and last month’s 44,589.  While it wasn’t the best month of all time, it’s only exceeded by August and September 2018. We didn’t really expect that the first month of the quarter would post phenomenal numbers, but it hit our early estimates on the nose. September’s Tesla Model 3 record still stands to be broken, and though October wasn’t the month to do it, we know the time is coming.

Five out of five months in 2018 have claimed a spot on our list of top months of all time for U.S. EV sales. This is primarily due to Tesla as a whole, but especially the Model 3, which continues to far surpass all other EVs in deliveries. Still, the growing numbers wouldn’t be where they are today without the respectable sales of the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, and Nissan LEAF.

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

  1. September 2018 – 44,589
  2. August 2018 – 36,380 
  3. October 2018 – 34,094
  4. July 2018 – 29,514
  5. March 2018 – 26,373

The Tesla Model 3 tops our chart by a leaps and bounds, with 95,882 estimated U.S. deliveries. This makes it ten months in a row that the Model 3 has been the U.S. EV sales leader. We estimate Tesla sold some 17,750 Model 3s in the month of October, which accounts for more than half of all EV sales in the U.S. for September and well over one-third of all plug-in electric car sales for the year to date.

If you include the Model S and Model X (3rd and 4th on the year, respectively), Tesla delivered an estimated 20,325 vehicles last month, which adds up to nearly two-thirds of all EVs sold in the U.S. in October. Based on our estimates – for the year as a whole – Tesla has sold a whopping 134,427 vehicles in the U.S. out of a total of some ~268,729 overall EV sales to date. Soon, the automaker should be accounting for over half of all electric vehicles sold in the U.S. for 2018.

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

The Toyota Prius Prime lands in the three-spot for the month and the second-place position for the year as a whole, with sales on the decline from last month, at 2,001.

The Chevrolet Volt fails to surpass the Chevrolet Bolt EV in October, after outselling it for seven consecutive months. However, it remains ahead of the Bolt by over 800 units for the year as a whole. Based on our estimates, the Volt lands in the fifth-place position for October, (1,475) and remains in the fifth position for the year thus far. Our research shows that Chevrolet Bolt sales were up considerably in October, at 2,075, trailing only to the Model 3. It also retains its sixth place position for 2018 as a whole.

The Honda Clarity PHEV and Nissan LEAF were the only other vehicles to sell over 1,000 copies in September, securing the cars in the fourth and seventh positions on our sales chart for the month and No. 7 and 8 on the year, respectively. LEAF sales dropped from last month, totaling 1,234 for October 2018. The Clarity makes a strong showing once again, with an estimated 1,935 Plug-in Hybrids delivered in the U.S. last month.

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 October 2018

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* – 20,325
  2. General Motors* – 3,512
  3. Toyota – 2,001
  4. Honda – 1.935
  5. BMW Group – 1,836
  6. Nissan –  1,234

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In September*

  1. BEV – 24,598
  2. PHEV – 9,496

*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.

Tesla Model 31875248538203750600059021425017800222501775095,882
Toyota Prius Prime149620502922262629242237198420712213200122,524
Tesla Model S80011253375125015202750120026253750135019,745
Tesla Model X7009752825102514502550132527503975122518,800
Chevrolet Volt*7139831782132516751336147518252129147514,718
Chevrolet Bolt EV117714241774127511251083117512251549207513,882
Honda Clarity PHEV*5948811061104916391445144014952028193513,567
Nissan LEAF  1508951500117115761367114913151563123411,920
BMW 530e*2244136895187299425367497567336,289
Ford Fusion Energi6407947827427406045223964804536,153
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid**3754504804256507104506546376235,454
BMW i3 (BEV + REx)  3826239925034245804644184614245,271
BMWX5 xDrive 40e*2615966275634993214312642252244,011
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV3003233732732973903503663783093,359
Kia Niro PHEV*1552462271202182812253463133232,454
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron*1451992141892672382202402302102,152
Fiat 500e**  21023528521525022522075941001,909
Volvo XC60 PHEV*1091551671412142261852102151801,802
BMW 330e*1011422021661501381061921952291,621
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid*12493362751681952002101701,606
Mercedes C350e*2917220815816617616517082751,401
Mini Countryman SE PHEV*127100741061632112101281401171,376
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV*2217821818021714318043111281,320
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV*9910693901261331151251201001,107
Kia Soul EV115163157152133571303318611,019
Honda Clarity BEV203104485237126120751221161,003
smart ED  8490103801101261031089895997
Porsche Cayenne S-E*113121197265591215456025912
Volkswagen e-Golf  178198164128763218321462902
Kia Optima PHEV*86103156142988390391751865
Mercedes GLE 550e*447018193837585904228791
Ford C-Max Energi2341421055718644120582
Ford Focus Electric  707313783885046740558
BMW i832394757644572675564542
Hyundai Sonata PHEV*5254783867626020155451
Mercedes GLC 350e*55759646660652720423
Volvo S90 T8 PHEV*27295229303530404535352
BMW 740e*18233160171640182545293
Hyundai IONIQ EV493607324735211221287
Cadillac CT6 PHEV*6241742301826231112209
Mercedes B250e  4049337300101134
Mercedes S550e*133119778108581
Jaguar I-Pace55
2018 U.S. Sales Totals12,04916,84526,37319,55624,31025,01929,51436,38044,58934,094268,729
2017 U.S. Sales Totals11,00412,37518,54213,36716,59617,04615,54016,51421,24214,31517,17826,107199,826
2018 Worldwide Sales*82,00081,000141,000128,450159,346157,933144,975172,400200,5001,267,604

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.

Categories: BMW, Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, Sales, Tesla, Toyota

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20 Comments on "October 2018 Plug-In EV Sales Slide Into Top Three Of All Time"

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“This makes it ten months in a row that the Model 3 has been the U.S. EV sales leader.”

That will almost certainly remain the case at least until some time in 2020, and I won’t be at all surprised if it lasts until circa 2022. Legacy auto makers have been even slower than I expected — than most of us EV advocates expected, I think — to challenge Tesla. Also, unfortunately, I don’t see much real challenge from newer EV startups such as Rivian or Lucid in that time frame. As Tesla has demonstrated, growing a startup auto maker into something that can rival the Big Boys takes many years.

As it is, legacy auto makers are dragging their feet so much that we may see BYD or some other Chinese auto maker be the first to offer any significant challenge to Tesla.

In the US Model 3 will probably be beaten only by… another Tesla, Model Y or pickup 🙂

No other manufacturer can hit these battery numbers and that’s just plain contracts. Until the Germans build a battery factory of their own and walk the prototype designs from the main office down to the plant, I see Toyota Prius Prime continuing on a steady state, not an increase. They can only refresh a Prius so much, you know?

The next car that can *theoretically* catch up to Tesla’s Model 3 in terms of coolness and lack of legacy ties is probably the Sion Motors Sono (www.sonomotors.com). The major limiting factor now is the start of production and the amount of cars they can produce … and of course final things like crash tests and validation.
I sincerely hope they will make it, the Sion has quite some brilliant features that Tesla doesn’t – yet – have and no other automaker probably ever will. And it’s not just the solar panels, the two 240V outlets, and a biological air filter.

It certainly won’t happen until the backlog has been depleted. The thing about EVs though is a lot of manufacturers aren’t really pushing them than hard. If GM really wanted to, I’d guess they’d be able to outsell Tesla. If would just take significant discounting, actually marketing their EVs, maybe also introducing a true CUV. And of course actually making enough EVs to sell. But they don’t care to do that.

Individually it hasn’t been worth the bother for the legacy car makers to compete with Tesla. That reluctance on their part has given Tesla the chance to gain a foothold. What I would worry about if I were Tesla (besides Elon Musk making another ill advised tweet) is what happens when the backlog is gone and the other manufacturers actually show up to the fight. Hopefully they will be in a stronger financial position by that point, because the current easy opening they have probably isn’t going to last.

I was looking at Good Car Bad Car numbers and the Tesla Model 3 is in 36th place YTD, out of the 234 models of cars sold in the US. And the 4 cars next up in front of the 3 sell less than 10,000 cars a month. So the Santa Fe, the Tundra, the Pacifica and Focus are going to be passed next month and the 3 will be in 32nd place. And this after a really slow first half of the year for the 3…

Are GCBC numbers reliable?

Looking at just the passenger cars, Model 3 is in 10th place.

The table in the article doesn’t show the October sales number. Might want to fix that.

Thank you. We’ve been having table save issues all day. It appeared to update but did not. I appreciate the heads up.

The Nissan LEAF is really falling off the map. Nissan has really let their EV division go stale. They need better design, a bigger battery, and add CCS in addition to Chademo.

60 KWh cometh…..

For the past 3 months, this year’s monthly sales have MORE THAN DOUBLED last-year’s monthly sales.

Yes, and I believe that the Model 3 is really going to bring a sea-change.

By the end of 2019 there will be hundreds of thousands on the road in the US, and not confined to granola-munching super-greenie CARB markets. The neighbor effect is going to create a landslide of demand for the Model 3 in particular, and (to a somewhat lesser degree) BEV in general. The 2019 and 2020 BEV sales numbers are going to continue to rise in step with production increases at Tesla — but the Non-Tesla BEVs and PHEVs should see higher numbers, too.

Well, with these definitive Canadian deliveries numbers up to September, now we can do the maths and find that 2.070 TM3 where delivered in Canada in Q3 out of the 56.065 total delivered (by Q3 earnings). So, in Q3, 53.995 TM3 were delivered in USA (time to updated the chart maybe!).
Going further, up to September, considering TM3 deliveries numbers extracted from Q1, Q2 and Q3 earnings, 154.450 TM3 were delivered this year, with 4.855 of these been delivered in Canada, and 149.595 been delivered in USA!

So including Canada sales, TM3 is easily above 1 Lakhs in sales numbers. May be you could do an article about how much time each EV took to reach 1 Lakh in sales numbers from the date of release.

FYI: “Lakh” is not a commonly understood term in the west.

Great work continuing to compile these numbers, guys! 350k for the year now looks very likely.

Without giving any methods away, if Waymo bought 2500 Pacifica PHEVs next month (and each month thereafter) would you detect the sudden increase even though it’s a fleet sale?

(■_■¬) Nolltronymous

Yikes! The Hyundai Ioniq EV only sold 21 cars last month. It’s odd because I’ve started seeing them posted for sale in states like MD. Hyundai’s website still says they are only for sale in CA. But I even see a new one recently advertised near me in Cary, NC. So, Hyundai seems to be making a push to get them out to dealerships.

But is it too little too late? I’d like to buy an EV upgrade to my Kia Soul EV this year (to take advantage of the $7,500 Fed tax credit this year), so the Hyundai Ioniq EV is tempting, with 33% more range than the Soul, but I’m also considering waiting next year for the much higher range Hyundai Kona EV.