September 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card
While September of 2015 isn’t the month that will be showing the “big gains”, it certainly pointed eagerly to October’s anticipated surge. As new plug-in offerings came to market just as a new month opened.
Specifically, Tesla kicked off the Model X launch on September 29th, by handing over the keys to the first six owners of the all-electric SUV, capable of travelling over 250 miles – and towing 5,000 lbs. Full video of the event, with a full walk-through of the X can be found here.
As well, GM announced at the company’s new 2016 model year update conference, that the next-generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt was finally shipping to customers starting now. And that the car would (thankfully) be getting a new marketing campaign with a couple new ad spots to arrive shortly.
For September, an estimated 10,134 plug-ins were sold, which was a 13% improvement over the ~8,972 sold in August – helped mostly by another late quarter delivery surge for the Tesla Model S and an unprecedented 1,700+ BMW i3 sales.
Over the past 6 weeks, 3 new products have hit the US market after exactly zero had arrived in almost the first 8 months of the year. If everything goes as planned, there should be at least 6 more to come in the last quarter, leading to much higher, record breaking EV sales in America.
Last Updated: Thursday, October 2nd @ 11:32PM
Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.
Additionally, waaaaaay down at the bottom of the story is both the 2015 YTD chart as well as the complete 2014 results.
Below: Individual sales reports on each plug-in brand for the US
Chevrolet Volt: Just 949 copies were sold in September, as the US consumer only had a small selection of 2015 model year Volts to choose from.
Our initial expectation for the arrival of the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt (with 53 miles of electric range) was for it to arrive mid-month and help a depleted 1st gen inventory situation save the sales month for the car.
Unfortunately, a seemingly protracted quality assurance hold meant that did not happen.
Overall, 9,264 Volts have been sold so far in 2015, which is off 36% from a year ago when 14,540 were sold through the first 9 months. (full Volt sales/Sept recap here)
However, if your glass is half full, all those hundreds (thousands?) of customer sales are still just waiting to counted…and that will start near immediately, as finished product left GM’s Hamtramck assembly facility and is now (as of the end of September) en route to dealerships in California, and the other 10 states eligible to order the 2016s.
During the month, we also learned that the nationwide production of the Chevrolet Volt will be paused until February, when those cars will get some “additional improvements” and be labelled as a 2017 model year car.
Nissan LEAF: Despite an expected US public waiting on a new model year upgrade, Nissan managed to sell 1,247 LEAFs in September.
Like its closest plug-in rival, the next generation Chevrolet Volt, the newly upgraded Nissan LEAF – with 107 miles of EPA range, didn’t manage to hit dealerships in September – a not unexpected after only making the changes official on September 10th.
Full details on the 2016 Nissan LEAF and its new 30 kWh battery option can be found here.
We can tell you that we have spoken to Nissan and they have said that the 2016 LEAF (also like the 2016 Volt) will be arriving this month – however, we could not coax a specific timeframe on its arrival.
In other words, it could be tomorrow, it could be Halloween night. One thing is for sure, with only ~2,600 copies of the 2015 edition left to sell at dealerships heading into the month, the LEAF really needs that 2016 edition to show up soon.
Cadillac ELR: The plug-in Caddy hit a new low for 2015, with just 36 ELRs sold during the month – mostly thanks to a very short inventory supply (which is something we have not been able to say about the plug-in Cadillac for a couple years)
Overall, 740 have been sold this year, which is off 16% from the 885 sold through September of 2014.
In August, our sources reported that new 2016 Cadillac ELR production (there was no 2015 model year ELR) was underway at GM’s Hamtramck, Michigan facility.
The only thing we really don’t know, is how many GM is intending to build, and how fast those will be accepted by dealers around the country – especially after having a particularly difficult time moving the 2014 edition (there was no 2015s due to low sales)
A quick check of inventory at Cadillac dealers during September, and it appears about ~70 2016s were in stock on average during the month.
The 2016 ELR does gain some performance over the 2014 model (0-60mph comes up in 6.4 seconds – 1.5 seconds than the older model), despite still using the 17.1 kWh battery found in the current Chevrolet Volt. The Cadillac also gets a $9,000 MSRP haircut (now starting at $65,995), which should help it move a little more product.
It is our opinion that the 2016 model year ELR was born out of the desire by GM to get a little more value from the outgoing ‘gen 1’ Voltec line, and the company will produce an undisclosed amount of ELRs this summer before turning off production and discontinuing the model indefinitely. 2016 Cadillac ELR production is now underway.
BMW i3: BMW came out of no where to obliterate all previous sales records for the i3. By the time September expired they had sold 1,710 i3s.
Once again – 1,710 i3s!
This not only set a year high, but an all-time high – crushing the 1,159 sold in October of 2014.
Only the Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF have managed to sell more plug-ins in a single month so far this year.
In truth, 2015 in general has been a bit of a roller coaster for sales on the plug-in BMW, with a sales spread of almost 1,300 between the highs and lows. For the first 9 months of the year, the i3 has now sold 7,893 cars, for an average of 877per month.
In 2014, BMW sold 6,092 i3s, good for the 7th best overall spot for plug-in sales in America…not bad considering it was only available for 7 full months in the US.
Tesla Model S: Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales (apparently because the public can’t handle the concept of regional allocations and delivery lead times)… so we never know for sure what the monthly numbers total up to until Tesla’s quarterly (or annual) updates add more clarity, but we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is 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…it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.
We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, the first hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself when available – and the number is what it is. So far that has worked out pretty well, with no quarter being off by more than 300 units versus information Tesla has reported publically, and for the full year results last year we came within 100 units with our net estimate of 17,300.
That being said, we only estimate this number because Tesla does not, 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 are not analysts, portfolio managers and we do not own any positions in Tesla the company.
All things old are new again.
The P90D replaces the P85D as the high performance all-electric sedan at Tesla, and the company appeared to returned to an old habit of delivering a lot more cars in North America in the last quarter of the month.
Although to be fair, we are unsure if this month’s surge was all that intentional this time – although Tesla certainly needed them all to hit Q3 guidance of ~11,500 cars moved globally. For September, the delivery bump might have just been a need to make room/clear out S orders, and focus more on the Model X in October…with a dash of playing a little catch-up from a 4-day power outage that hit Tesla’s Fremont factory in August.
Anyway, we estimate that Tesla delivered ~2,500 Model S sedans into North America during September (and north of 2,000 more internationally – with a focus on Scandinavia).
Looking at the mix of cars being delivered, it seems like the P90D edition of the Model S (with more range and more performance) was very well received – we peg about 1 in 6 deliveries in the US being of the ultra-high end variety.
We expect Tesla to announce full quarter, worldwide sales estimates shortly, and will update that here in real-time.
Update (Oct 2): After the market closed Tesla guided to just hitting Q3 guidance with 11,580 EVs estimated sold. (link to story)
Tesla Model X: Like the Model S, Tesla does not itself report Model X sales, so we do our best – with all the data at our disposal to estimate monthly results for North America as best we can (For more info on that, check out our disclaimer for the Model S)
With all the fanfare one would expect from Tesla Motors and its CEO Elon Musk, the much anticipated/oft delayed Model X arrived in September, with a big launch party – of which you can check out the full video of (as well as newly released details/specs) here.
And like the Tesla Model S’ debut way back in June of 2012, it is easy to peg how many Model X Tesla delivered during September, because they did them all on stage.
For September, the first SIX were delivered – with VIN #001 going to the CEO himself, and VIN #002 to his friend and fellow Board member, Steve Jurvetson.
Looking ahead, we don’t expect much (if any) Model X deliveries of substance in October, as configuration only opened to about the first ~400 reservation holders of the Signature model (details on that model release here) with any time to spare before the official launch on the 29th; with the cumulative group (more or less) of 1,200 being able to configure only at month’s end. Best case would perhaps be ~200 deliveries in October in our estimation.
We anxiously await Tesla to announced pricing/specs/options of the “common man’s” non-Signature Model X, as well as being able to reserve and configure one online in October.
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV: Last month, the first (and widely anticipated) plug-in offering from Volvo to be offered in the US arrived late in August, selling 4 copies.
That being said, we are pretty sure these 4 logged sales were a result of US summer test drives being given to potential customers…and not actual ownership deliveries.
This was further backed up by the fact zero new plug-in Volvos were sold in September. We expect to see actual consumer deliveries perhaps by month’s end.
The Volvo XC90 T8 (details) plug-in is rated at 394 hp, and will get about 17 miles of EPA estimated range (via a 9.2 kWh battery), and is the first to offer a standard dual 240v/120v dual charging cord set.
Pricing starts at $68,100 in the US.
It will be interesting to see how much demand their is for the first extended range PHEV in America, as Volvo already under-estimate demand for the XC90 plug-in by a factor of 5 in Europe.
Chevrolet SPARK EV: In September, GM managed to sell 157 all-electric Sparks, which was impressive considering the tight inventory situation that has continued all summer long.
Previously, in August, 135 all-electric Sparks were sold.
For the first 9 months of 2015, 2,134 have been sold, which is already 86% more than was sold in all of 2014 (1,145). Even though we are only 2/3rds through the year, we will give the little Chevy the “most improved sales” trophy a little early.
Earlier in the Spring, GM also confirmed the Spark EV would live on (in first generation trim) for one more year while waiting on the Chevrolet Bolt to arrive in 2017, however the Spark EV is only build in South Korea and production is sporadic at best.
After speaking with GM in August and getting their take on new 2016 inventory, we didn’t expect to see any new inventory of the plug-in Spark until September at the earliest. As it turns out, that expectation held true, as GM enters October with exactly zero 2016s in stock.
We spoke to GM again the first of October, and there expectation was “should be any day now” – which is good news for the popular compact EV.
What triggered all the sales of earlier in the year (and demand still today)? A MSRP price cut on the Spark EV to $25,995, and a new aggressive lease deal at $139 per month.
Ford Fusion Energi: In September, sales of the plug-in Ford came down a touch, but still respectable at 808 units.
Previously, and despite the rest of the EV industry’s woes in August, Ford almost set a new year-high with the Fusion Energi, selling 949 copies.
Which came on the back of July, in which the Fusion Energi was once again the “high volume EV seller you can count on”, putting up another steady result with 852 cars sold.
Entering September, the Ford was less than 100 cumulative cars sold behind the BMW i3 this year for America. Although, with the unprecedented 1,710 Bimmers sold in September, the gap between the two has now grown to about a 1,000 units.
The Fusion Energi basically offers the same package as the C-Max Energi, but in a larger sedan package. The third plug-in to be offered from Ford has been rated by the EPA at a combined 88 MPGe and has an electric range of 19 miles.
Toyota Prius Plug-In: Whoosh – is the sound of Prius PHV sales as the remaining inventory circles the drain.
For September, a new low was set (again), with only 216 sold, which comes after selling just 344 in August.
Despite a US consumer that would easy buy 800-1,200 copies a month, production of the current car ended in June.
For the first 9 months of the year, 4,043 have been sold, which is off 66% from 2014 when 11.842 were moved through September. Again, we have to note – 2015 results are not a reflection on the demand, there just is no cars left to buy.
Although a next generation Prius PHV is confirmed, delays in the ‘regular’ Prius have pushed the plug-in version’s introduction as far off as the second half of 2016 as a 2017 model car.
This means we are in the midst of a ~14 month gap (with zero production) and there will be no newly produced cars to sell over that period.
On the inventory front, only about 200 or so are left to buy at dealers currently. Hopefully Toyota has some extra copies squirrelled away from the end of the production run that they can still ship to the US, but we kind of doubt it.
Our prediction, regardless of what the plug-in Prius sells this summer, there isn’t going to be hardly any left for October through all of 2016 – and even low volume cars like the Focus Electric are going to clean its ‘sales clock’ next year – which is a shame, because the demand to still move 1,000 a month has never waned with the US public, only Toyota’s desire to sell them.
Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid:
When it comes to plug-in luxury, there is a new boss in town! Having just arrived in late July, the Mercedes S550 presents a level of refinement previously unseen in the EV segment for the US.
For September a new high of sorts was set with 17 S550Hs sold.
For its debut month (July), the plug-in Mercedes 10 copies of the premium sedan, which starts at $94,400.
Despite its huge footprint, and pretty heavy weight (just north of 5,000lbs), the electric motor and turbo 6 cylinder still manage to zip the Mercedes to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, while giving the car 24 MPG in the city and 30 on the highway.
Range is rated at 12+ miles with the Prius-like “electric + gas” tag, meaning you have to drive with a certain light-footedness to get the 20 miles on just electricity. The S550 has a 8 kWh battery on board, so expect about a $4,700 federal tax credit with your purchase.
Volkswagen e-Golf: In September, VW sold 343 emission free Golfs (too soon?)
The month prior, VW came close to setting a new all-time high for e-Golf sales as 381 EVs were delivered.
Looking at the strong European sales, and the amount of EVs VW is selling from such a limited inventory in the US, the company has served notice that they won’t be relegated to the small volume compliance category of EV sales.
Adding to the demand in the US, the company introduced a new, less expensive SE trim level which is arriving now. The new trim level brings the base starting price of the e-Golf down to $29,815.
How high could sales go? Still fairly hard to say without a deeper inventory allocation, but the 500+ per month level ‘in season’ doesn’t seem hard to fathom today – at least when (and if) inventory levels get high enough to support that many sales.
Heading into October, national inventory of the e-Golf shrunk to around 500 copies as the 2016s arrived a little late to maintain September’s levels.
The e-Golf has been rated at 83 miles by the EPA and carries a 24.2 kWh LEAF-like battery.
Ford C-Max Energi: The plug-in C-Max has turned into a very steady and predictable performer for Ford. In September 719 were sold – just off the year high set last month in August (723)
Demonstrating the consistency, Ford also sold 715 C-Max Energis in both March and May
So far though the first 9 months of 2015, 5,679 C-Max Energis have been sold, which is still lagging the pace from 2014 when Ford sold 8,433 for the entire year.
In 2013, the high water mark for the C-Max Energi was set in October as 1,092 plug-ins sold. It still would not surprise us to see the C-Max Energi live only as long as it takes to introduce a Focus Energi.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED:
2015 continues to be a bit of a let down in our minds for the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive – in September 147 copies were sold, after selling 173 in August.
September marks the 5th consecutive month of declining sales for the EV.
The bad news for sales so far into 2015, is that the actual 2015 model year arrived very late, and now we are waiting on the 2016 model year season…none of which have arrived yet. Total lose-lose for B-Class ED sales so far in 2015.
Can the electric B-Class ultimately compete with natural rival BMW (with the i3)? It still seems highly unlikely…at least for this generation.
During September we also heard news (via a normally very reliable source) that Mercedes was about to get serious with the B-Class ED, giving it an estimated 300 mile (NEDC) ~225 mile EPA range upgrade in next generation trim, while also removing the Tesla drivetrain/components to bring costs down. It seems as though the B-Class ED may be one of the “ones to watch” heading into the 2nd generation wars in a couple year’s time.
BMW i8: BMW posted another strong month of sales with the i8 – selling 182 copies in September.
Previously, the i8 continued to impress in both August and July as BMW notched 210 and 217 sales respectively.
For 2015, BMW has now sold 1,343 i8s. A very respectable amount given the 6-figure pricepoint.
July also marked the highest level of i8 sales for BMW in 2015 by a long shot (Apr – 138), and is also a new all-time record, passing October of 2014’s 204 cars sold.
Truthfully, “consistency” has been the word for BMW i8 sales, as sales have remained steady since its launch. So, all great results so far in 2015, as it had only taken about 25 days for a car landed in the US to find a home.
What makes October uncommonly special for the i8, is that for the first time, US inventory allocation has grown to a reasonable level (~400 units heading into October). Meaning that we are now about to see the true demand level for the plug-in supercar, for the very first time.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid:
It has been tough-sledding recently for the plug-in Panamera, but September did set a 6-month high, yet still only 41 were sold.
That was on the heels of August, when only 36 Panamera EVs were moved.
The upcoming refresh probably can’t come soon enough.
Looking at the yearly trend, and the Cayenne S e-Hybrid is clearly taking more and more away from its sibling.
The high mark for sales on the Panamera was set in the first month of the year, with an amazing 141 sold. The advent of the Cayenne plug-in means that this level will never be seen again.
The Panamera S E-Hybrid has a combined 416 hp output (333 hp electric) and can get north of 60 mph in about 5 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph. Pricing starts at $99,000. Also of interest, the S E-Hybrid is currently available at all Porsche dealers nationwide – a rare thing these days.
Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid: For September 70 more Cayenne’s with plugs moved off Porsche lots in America.
Previously, 83 Cayenne plug-ins were sold in August – which basically demonstrates the selling range of the Porsche throughout its history.
The S e-Hybrid has consistently outsold its Panamera plug-in cousin by more than a 2-to-1 ratio.
The Cayenne S e-Hybrid all-time record was in May with 105 sold.
We had expected this summer, that as more inventory of the Cayenne plug-in arrived, more sales to be realized by Porsche. Unfortunately, the old “allocation chestnut” card has seemingly been played by Porsche and/or its dealers and national inventories have hovered between 150-225 for quite some time now.
While the Cayenne S e-Hybrid and cousin Panamera S e-Hybrid are still selling relatively close to the same level, don’t be fooled, the Cayenne plug-in’s demand is much, much higher.
When it comes to reporting plug-in sales, we have another Tesla on our hands here (as in they don’t report sales).
Chrysler/Fiat has been giving us a bit of the stonewall treatment when it comes to reporting 500e sales.
UPDATE: In the past, InsideEVs had used data from a 3rd party data collection site, however upon inspection of those numbers, they were found to be materially short from rebates claimed on the car. Historical sales have since been updated to more accurately reflect the 500es true sales, and we will continue to report an estimated number based on more accurate data points.
After 3 consecutive months of strong, improving sales -capped off by an estimated 610 copies being sold in August, we thought things might cool off for the 500e.
No so much, if anything demand increased, we estimate ~635 copies were moved in September.
Indirectly, the back-to-back strong months may hurt October’s results for Fiat, as inventory levels are only at about 15 days worth of selling…and none of them are 2016s. Unless Fiat has already produced and is currently shipping out a new batch of 500es, we may be about to see a deep in EV sales this Fall.
The all-time high water mark was an estimated 1,310 estimated sales of the 500e in March.
Yes, despite only 3 sales in September, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is still on sale in the US…as an ongoing product.
Previously in August, sales slumped to near-lows, as just 6 new i-MiEVs were moved. In the July prior, Mitsubishi sold a further 12 i-MiEVs in the US, which broke a string of 4 consecutive monthly highs after moving 23 copies in June.
In wider news: 2016s are here! 2016s are here!
Unfortunately not that many. A quick check around the US by ourselves at June’s end only returned about 60, 2016 copies. Long story short, sales are terrible, dealers don’t really want them – they want the new Outlander PHEV, but have to wait until April/May of next year to get serious about plug-ins.
For its part, Mitsu says it will continue to sell cars the way it always has, which is by relying on customers coming into dealerships and practically demanding a car.
SMART ForTwo Electric Drive:
After a 2014 that say the smart ED regularly sell 200-300 copies a month, the littlest EV has been having some trouble just maintaining 3 digits of late.
That trend continued in September with 94 sold. Previously in August, smart sold 106 more of electrified ForTwo.
Next month should see the year-to-date sales on the smart ED the 1,000 units mark (955 sold through 09/15).
The best selling month this year for the electric drive smart was April when 124 were sold. The all-time record for smart ED sales was set this past December, as 351 were moved.
The smart EV is now technically available nationally, although there isn’t inventory yet spread out across the country to make physical sales everywhere – perhaps a reality of the end of the 2015 model year.
On the plus side, the 2016s have now started to arrive from Europe, although only a few dozen appear to have actually landed and arrived at dealerships entering October.
The smart ED is the first plug-in for America to be offered with a “battery rental” option, which brings the cost of the Smart ED down to $19,990, but adds a $80 month battery rental payment, as well as includes a wider (and longer) battery warranty.
Check out all the specs, options and pricing here. The 2-seat Smart electric car gets 68 miles of range from a 17.6 kWh battery.
Ford Focus Electric:
What can we tell you. Ford sold “100 and something” Focus Electrics for the 500th consecutive month in a row. Ok, it is not quite that monotonous, but it sure feels like it.
For September, 145 more were sold. Which comes after the 173 that were sold in August, and that was after selling 135 in July, 152 in June, 165 in May, 124 in April…you get the idea.
- If you are keeping track of this sort of thing (and we can’t imagine why you would be), August’s result makes 29 of the past 32 months in the hundred-zone.
Those 3 other months? 85 and 53 in January 2015 and December 2014 (respectively), with the all-time high (and only trip into the 200s) coming in August of 2014, with 264 moved.
Kia SOUL EV:
Kia has decided to not split out data on the Soul EV from the regular petrol version, despite several attempts by ourselves to convince them it would be a good idea to do that.
But none of that matters because there is more indirect ways to split out plug-ins sales from petrol ones.
For September, Kia sold 105 Soul EVs which is a near best compared to the 109 they moved in June. Previously in August, 93 units sold – basically showing the trend line for the car.
The three-digit result in June was actually Kia’s best result of the year, but we have to temper our excitement for the achievement as quite frankly, it should be doing much, much better.
Hey Kia, maybe its time to ship a few more copies to the US? But we wouldn’t get our hopes up – production of the Soul EV is extremely tight with demands, and the car is sought out everywhere in the world it is sold (perhaps with the exception of Germany – where it is excessively exported to customers in other regions who want it)
The high water mark still stands at the 140 EVs that were moved in November…which means that, at least for now, the low 100s seems to be the acceptance level for the all electric Kia.
The cute-ute from Hyundai/Kia has a more than decent 93 miles of range (with more 103 miles of range in the city), and a price tag of $33,700 (full details, specs and picture can be found here). We expect the advent of the Kia Optima plug-in and an unnamed Hyundai all-electric sedan to be introduced over the next 12 months or so to signal the end of the Soul EV by 2017.
Honda Accord Plug-In: We knew it was coming, but this month it finally happened – zero Accord plug-ins were sold.
Which was down a massive 2 cars from last month, and down 4 from June.
Before June, 5 units were sold in each of the 3 prior months, bring the grand total to 62 Accords PHV moved to date.
Basically, there is absolutely no demand for the extended range Accord. By the way, did you know Honda had a plug-in hybrid to sell? Few seem to. In fact, it has been on sale now for 33 months – debuting in January of 2013.
Well they do sell them….and for just $17,675 dollars more than the base Accord sedan you too can enjoy up to 13 miles of electric driving…provided you don’t accelerate too hard, or drive to fast. So, to say Accord PHEV sales are flat in the US would be an understatement.
UPDATE (June): Honda has finally put the Accord PHV out to pasture! Yes the 10th oldest plug-in brand in America (and arguably the least successful) is done. Honda has said there will be no future Accord PHV model, as the company will now focus on making both a fully electric and PHEV car that are more commercially viable (as opposed to being more of compliance plays).
Points to Honda for finally coming around to electric vehicles!
Porsche 918 (OTHER):
Ok, we hear you! People always ask us, “why don’t you report on the 918 Spyder?”
Honestly, it didn’t fit our traditional mantra of reporting only “mass produced EVs for America“…especially as we already know the total number of sales to come for America.
Only 918 of the super exotic plug-in will be build over several years, and they are already all sold out, with exactly 297 destined to come to the US.
In September, just 4 more of Porsche’s supercar were built and delivered in America after 22 were delivered in August.
Check out Top Gear’s video review of the car that can go from 0 to 62 mph in 2.3 seconds…and plug-in, here.
BELOW: Chart of 2015 results so far, as well as 2014 year end results: