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

9 months ago 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)

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

  1. Mike says:

    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.

    1. R.S says:

      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.

      1. John Hansen says:

        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.

        1. R.S says:

          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.

          1. WadeTyhon says:

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

    2. Miggy says:

      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.

      1. alohart says:

        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…

      2. Dominic says:

        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.

      3. energymatters says:

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

  2. David Murray says:

    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.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Erm, none…sorry that’s on me for being a bit misleading there – just clearouts. They are in transit though, does that count?

      1. Texas FFE says:

        AutoTrader is only listing 17 2017 models and all of those adds that show pictures show pictures of the 2016 model. So there’s still a lot of skepticism concerning when the 2017 will actually show up on dealer lots. One interesting note is that some dealers are still showing deep discounts for 2017 models, some below $24k, so we might be seeing the makings of an EV price was.

        1. Texas FFE says:

          … price war.

  3. Leafowner says:

    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…..

    1. Miggy says:

      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.

      1. Neromanceres says:

        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?

    2. JeremyK says:

      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.

    3. Loboc says:

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

      1. Anti-Lord Kelvin says:

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

  4. Texas FFE says:

    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.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Indeed that should read “ahead of” as they are just in transit now…whoopsie. Fixed.

  5. fasterthanonecanimagine says:

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

  6. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

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


    1. BenG says:

      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.

    2. Roy_H says:

      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.

  7. Bonaire says:

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

    1. Jay Cole says:

      March is a candidate to show some lower gains, just with the quirks that could be happening at Tesla this month (was some odd things happening at month end), but not much else.

      …but I don’t think its possible to go as low as 40% for full year (or for even more than 2 months of the year individually), just given the volume and depth of offerings now and looking at the 2016 comps.

      You have continued Bolt/Prime filling out inventory and regional availability over the next few months pushing numbers higher, as well as a resurgent Volt.

      …but by September, the Bolt EV is nationwide, the Prius Prime won’t have supply issues, the new LEAF is out, all Tesla Model 3s sales for 2017 are NA…plus the other ~8 or so new offerings. Those are all “plus” sales to yoy numbers pretty much.

      As always, time will tell, (=

      1. HVACman says:

        “…just with the quirks that could be happening at Tesla this month (was some odd things happening at month end)”

        Quirks? Odd things? At Tesla? Who’d a thunk!:)

      2. Bonaire says:

        Prime is interesting and like in past years, sometimes blossomed into some big selling numbers. 40%-60% is good. Wildcard as always is Model 3. Volt/Bolt may “steady” along as they are. Prime may go up. The other small slices of pie still small. New Leaf could do ok.

        Oh why didn’t I go into the Electrician field to install all the at-home L2 charging setups. A big growth angle for electricians is the EV market growing.

  8. John Hansen says:

    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.


    1. Jay Cole says:

      Once you start hitting the high teens for consecutive months of big sales gains, one has to basically throw darts at a thesaurus to be original, (=

      1. Martin Winlow says:

        So, here’s an idea… Why not differentiate between the really interesting news about how many actual *EVs* are being sold Vs how many *plug-in hybrids* are being sold? That way you don’t COMPLETELY MISLEAD those of your readers who just read the headlines and move on?

        1. bro1999 says:

          Plug-in hybrids are EVs.

          Stop with your ridiculous *BEV purist* crap.

          1. Jay Cole says:


            We’ve explained it before to you why we reference EVs as we do (general consumption/ease of understanding for the masses), so there is not much point in re-iterating it, as you don’t agree with that stance.

            With that said, we aren’t changing, it is not about appeasing the 1/100th of 1 percent of the general population (that can do the ‘math’/has understanding anyway), although I personally can understand your opinion/point of view, I however suggest you should “move on”.

          2. TwoVolts says:

            Exactly. I’m tired of the nitpicking as well. The Volt has 53 miles of AER, while the MiEV has 62 miles of AER – and yet the BEV purists would deny the Volt a spot at the EV table. What if the 2nd gen Volt had 63 miles of AER instead of 53 miles? Would it still be any less of an EV than the MiEV???

        2. JeremyK says:

          Oh, I think it’s plenty interesting that an EV with a range extending ICE is beating up on pure EVs.

          The value of the Volt is finally starting to sink in with consumers. I expect Bolt to do well too, just need to get them out to the rest of the nation.

          I like the reporting the way it is. Volt drivers log just as many EV miles as everybody else…and more in some cases.

        3. Ziv says:

          Martin, the “it isn’t an EV if it has a gas tank” shtick is getting old. An EV is an EV whether it is a BEV or a PHEV.
          BEV only zealots are irritating to normal EV drivers, and that includes most BEV drivers.

        4. jelloslug says:

          Shouldn’t you be outside yelling at a cloud?

    2. ffbj says:

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

    3. Miggy says:

      I like number two

  9. instant tq says:

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

    1. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:


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

      I heard the deals were pretty good.

      1. BenG says:

        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.

        1. Bonaire says:

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

  10. no comment says:

    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.

    1. guyinacar says:

      “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, people still want cars that have a visceral appeal. I’ve owned or rented every variant of Prius since Gen II, but I won’t be part of this style. I don’t care if the PP gets a thousand miles a gallon – or if it runs on banana peels, coffee grounds, and the sludge from the bottom of my fish tank. It’s still not for me, at any gas price. Clearly, I’m not alone.

  11. M3- Reserved - TBD IONIQ/Bolt says:

    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

    1. Bonaire says:

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

  12. 100LL says:

    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.

  13. Just_Chris says:

    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.

  14. Ocean Railroader says:

    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.

    1. John C says:

      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….

  15. Bloggin says:

    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.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Sorry, that should be “126 miles city”…kinda important. My bad there (I did link to the city/highway story…any points for that? No? heeh). Fixed.

      However, no 2017 upgraded Fords actually made it to dealer lots during the month.

    2. bro1999 says:

      Or more likely firesale prices for leftover ’16s.

    3. Spoonman. says:

      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.

  16. alohart says:

    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.

  17. Ambulator says:

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


    Torrid is fine, though.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      What’s this? I don’t see that sentence at all in the article!

      …and I in no way went back in the story and edited out the “in a row” part
  18. speculawyer says:

    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?