Plug-In EV Sales Continue Torrid Pace In US For February, Up 55%

MAR 2 2017 BY JAY COLE 60

The New Toyota Prius Prime was the surprise plug-in sales mover for February

For the 17th consecutive month, plug-in electric vehicles sales increased in the United States this month.  But that really isn’t the big story…

The real story is the pace of sales.  Early in that 17 month streak*, the gains were marginal at best.  Then they began to get more substantial.  However, over the last several the gains really have taken hold, netting more than a 50% over the last 9 months on average.

Best selling plug-in so far in America for 2017? It’s the Chevrolet Volt!

For February, an estimated 12,059 sales were logged, a 55% gain over the ~7,762 sold a year ago.

Adding in January’s equally impressive 71% gain, and a total of 22,679 EVs have now been sold in 2017, combining for an 62% growth rate to date.

Extrapolate that result for the rest of the year (and why not with the likes of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Hyundai Ioniq, “new” Nissan LEAF, and of course the Tesla Model 3 still yet to come), and you arrive at more than 258,000 sales by year’s end.  Not too shabby at all!

Leading the charge for February, and for the second month this year, was the resurgent Chevrolet Volt selling 1,820 copies, just edging out the Tesla Model S (~1,750) by our estimates.

A strong effort was also turned in by the new Toyota Prius Prime, of which sold 1,362 copies despite only having an average inventory of about 900 units on hand during the month, that result was also just enough to keep it ahead of the Model S for the 2nd best selling plug-in for the United States for the year after the first two months…although we expect to see the Tesla re-take the first overall spot in a permanent fashion next month.

On the other side of the coin, the BMW i3 continued a 14 month trend (save a couple months in the Summer of 2016) of some pretty lackluster sales, while the Chevrolet Bolt EV also underwhelmed expectations with just 952 sales – down 200 units versus January, despite deeper inventories in California during the month.

We should also note that ahead of the newly upgraded Ford Focus Electric (now rated at 126 miles of range in the city/115 overall for $29,120), Ford still managed to see 228 copies in February, the brand’s second best result ever…and it has been around a long time (~60 months).

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Other Statistical Points of Interest from February 2017

GM leas all OEMs in plug-in vehicle sales in February (InsideEVs/George B)

Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. General Motors – 2,776
  2. Tesla Motors – 2,550
  3. Ford – 1,704
  4. Toyota – 1,362
  5. Nissan – 1,037
  6. BMW – 830
  7. VW Group – 815

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In February*

  1. PHEV – 6,382 – 52.9%
  2. BEV – 5,667 -47.1%

(*) estimated

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)

Categories: Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

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60 Comments on "Plug-In EV Sales Continue Torrid Pace In US For February, Up 55%"

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I wonder how much of the Volt’s recent success is due to Prius shoppers comparing the Prime and Volt. I seem to remember more than a couple comparisons in major auto review outlets saying the Volt was a better car, though it was more expensive. It seems Toyota’s marketing and reputation may be doing a better job improving Volt sales than anything GM is doing to market the car, which is about nothing.

I think it is actually the Bolt. I don’t think too many Prime customers are cross shopping with the Volt, since they could have done the same when they were regular Prius customers (where I think most Prime customers come from).

The Bolt on the other hand got lots of media coverage and surely made many interested in the electric Chevrolets. But the Volt has had much more inventory, is available all over the US, is cheaper and still comparatively practical from an EV and everyday usability standpoint. So I guess many would be Bolt owners are Volt owners now.

I think there could be cross shopping. Prius shoppers previously weren’t even thinking about a plug. When they see the Prime they start thinking about it and wonder what other manufacturers are doing. Then they come across the Volt and read all the positive reviews.

PS, my neighbor’s (60 y.o.) children just traded their Prius in for a Volt, although they said it was because they saw it working for me so well.

I guess the ones that switch from Prius to Volt do it for the same reasons as your neighbors. They know someone who has one.

You might have a point that other people might also start noticing the Volt more, but not because of the Prime and it’s plug, but rather because of the coverage, the Bolt gets.

Chevy hasn’t been too generous with Volt marketing for the last couple of years, so media coverage of a car that sounds almost the same, might spark peoples interest more, than just the similarity with the Prime, of having a plug.

Exactly. The Volt / Bolt name will have a positive impact on the Volt. Especially while the Bolt is in short supply.

So it shows that President Trump’s actions are working to make the USA great again.
With more EV’s sales it just gets better for the USA.

What actions would those be? Trump has done little so far other than pontificate and self-congratulate. One action he has taken is to appoint an anti-EPA litigator as EPA Administrator which few people feel will be positive for EV sales. But it’s still to early to know…

I don’t think so
This is a trend that building way before Trump
Or it could be a rush to purchase before he crushes tax incentives.
Reason crushed my solar business by doing the same.

You’re comment is very confusing. Trump did what exactly?

How many of those Focus EV sales were of the new longer-range variety? I definitely expected it to sell better once that version became fully stocked.. but I figured it would still be hard to get one of those new ones.

Very disappointing Bolt sales. I would expect sales of at least 2000 per month – especially if they have any prayer of hitting 30k for the year. All I’ve heard it’s a great car……but – not a Tesla.

Also – when will you add the Model 3 as arriving soon? July is not that far away…..

On the GM Volt web-site it shows a fair few buyers are not that happy with their purchase.
It may pay for buyers to wait and compare the Bolt with other before you buy.

I’m very active on the gm-volt forum and found that many are very pleased with their Bolt EV purchase. In fact could you point me to just one example of someone who wasn’t happy with their Bolt EV purchase?

It’s only being sold in 5 states, so 2000/month is probably pretty reasonable by the time it is available in the entire US. I think we’ll see those numbers next year or late in 2017. TBD. Lot more competition in 2018 though.

Model 3 will not be shipping in July. At least not July 2017.

You are right. First Tesla 3 will be delivered in July 2017 to Tesla and SpaceX workers IN CALIFORNIA, so no shipping needed…:)

This article needs to be corrected!!! There are no nor have there been any “newly upgraded” Ford Focus Electrics for sale. The sales increase for the FFE in February were due solely to deep discounts on 2016 models.


February 2016 with 25 weekdays vs. 24 in 2017. That adds another 4% for February y/y.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

lol, that many people,1362, bought the PiPPr????


It’s the cheapest midsize Prius after tax credits, so I expect there is plenty of demand for it.

After it’s well-stocked throughout the nation and Toyota (hopefully) rolls out some advertising for it, then it should sell even more.

I expect the Prius to do even better. Not because it is a good car, but just because there it a huge Toyota following. When these people want to buy a new car, they go to their Toyota dealer and make their choice, vaguely aware there are other brands, but don’t care.

Good numbers so far. Should be about a 40% overall market increase this year over full year 16.

I’ll admit, I had to look up “torrid”. I’m still confused…

1. very hot and dry
2. full of passionate or highly charged emotions arising from sexual love
3. full of difficulty or tribulation

I’m guessing probably the first half of the first definition is what was meant. Depending on the person, it could be the second, although I’m not quite “that” into EVs. The third seems right out.


It can also mean very fast. For example: they maintained a torrid pace and completed the mission in record time.

I like number two

yeah ppl still buying nissan leaf. Maybe it’s the case when design “grows on you”

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous


It’s the price point they had trying to move inventory out.

I heard the deals were pretty good.

Yep, in some states with $10,000 rebate available add in the $7,500 federal tax credit (if you qualify) and you can buy a brand new Leaf for $12,500 or even less, making it one of the very cheapest cars you can buy new in the US, and more car in terms of space/trim level than anything near it.

Maryland had some higher teens pricing on Spark EV recently. That was before incentives.

the subtext for this increase in US *EV passenger vehicle sales is that overall passenger vehicle sales are getting hammered as people are increasingly buying SUVs. for example, US toyota prius sales are down by about 30% from last year.

“Prius sales are down 30%…” The recent design language from Toyota/Lexus isn’t helping them. My wife and I personally detest the style, but I won’t assume everyone agrees with us. Our kids loathe it too, which is probably more worrying for Toyota and Lexus. I mean, our kids HATE the new Prius. So I will simply assert that it’s take-it-or-leave-it styling. I think what the numbers show is that the Prius is not unique enough anymore to get away with its styling. Hell, even the Accord Hybrid (non PHEV) gets 49mpg city these days, and it doesn’t suffer what Bloomberg called “a look only anime fans can love:” Many customers are looking elsewhere and finding satisfactory (or superior) options. Obviously, I believe BMW and Tesla to be among those choices. When the BEV AWD Tesla M3 arrives, and if the PHEV BMW AWD 225xe comes here, Toyota will have an even more serious problem. I personally think the PHEV 4WD 330e & X5 40e are eating Prius sales already (though in fairness, I also believe the Tesla MS has been eating SUV and BMW 5’er sales, so it’s an indirect line). Whether gas is at $2 or $7 gallon,… Read more »
M3- Reserved - TBD IONIQ/Bolt

Cheap gas does that.

Tesla has lux brand and performance to withstand that.

Prius Prime is cheapest Prius and will take its fair share.

Rest are fighting the Gas Glut Fracking King

part of fight is the ridiculously low (and attractive) used-car pricing on Gen 1 Volts, Energi and Leafs.

Hi, I found a forum where we find some new owner of Pacifica Hybrid. If you went to publish:
I’m waiting for my third kid, so I think it will be our next car. Really, a minivan! So let us know more about the first hybrid minivan. Not fan of Chrysler, really not, but I have to give a high-five to Chrysler. Here in province of Québec, should be cheaper than Pacifica std or Odyssey when rented 48 months (even if it’s fully loaded, 1 trim in Canada avail.). 8000$ rebate.

The good thing about the increase that we are seeing, IMO, is that they are not the result of anyone individual car or car company. The top 7 best sellers come from 5 different companies and could all sell comfortably over 1000 units per month. The Prime and the Bolt are selling in very healthy numbers for the first few months on the market and I am sure by the second half of the the year the top 5 sellers will be comfortably selling more than 2000 units per month.

The question is does this mean we have seen the back of sub-10k per month sales cards? I think it probably does.

Here is a story that the growing EV herd won’t stop oil demand from rising

There has been a ton of anti EV stories coming out over the last few weeks.

What gets me mad about EV’s is the lack of them for sale in Virginia. The local dealers are making constant excuses why they don’t have any plug in cars.

Bad numbers throughout….

100 MM EVs only offset 1 MM barrels/day?

That assumes they replace 0.4 gal/day?

Also says that is 100x current global fleet…or more like 50x.

Implies that EV sales are driven by incentives that will disappear, not lower cost and superior performance, which are not discussed..

I could go on….

We should also note that ahead of the newly upgraded Ford Focus Electric (now rated at 126 miles of range for $29,120), Ford still managed to see 228 copies in February, the brand’s second best result ever…and it has been around a long time (~60 months).

2017 Focus Electric was on sale the last half of February and the EPA 115 mile range, standard CCS charging and slight price drop should be what accounted for the sales boost.

Or more likely firesale prices for leftover ’16s.

I don’t think a single 2017 FFE has been delivered. But dealers are marking down their 2016s to under $20,000. After tax credits or made into a lease that’s a very cheap new car with a good deal of premium features.

It made me think about going down to Maryland to get one, since I drive nearly all electric miles in my C-Max, but with two two-month-olds and a three -year-old (and, you know, a job) I don’t have time to juggle anything more right now.

The i3’s recent lackluster sales might be due to the i3 REx recall that prevents i3 REx models manufactured prior to December, 2016, from being sold until the recall service has been performed which might not occur before April.

Also, hot i3 BEV sales in Norway might be reducing the number of U.S. i3 BEV’s being manufactured thus reducing U.S. inventory and the variety of i3 BEV’s available at BMW dealers.

Or maybe BMW is just clueless with its i3 manufacturing and marketing.

Jay Cole: “For the 17th consecutive month in a row…”


Torrid is fine, though.

I see so many plug-ins here in the SF Bay area than I am starting to wonder if there has been a noticeable effect on gasoline sales.

With all these EV sales, sure gasoline sales have to dropping around here. At least a slow-down in gasoline sales growth. Has anyone looked into this?