September 2017 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

OCT 3 2017 BY JAY COLE 89

Let the good times roll!

After years of build up, September marks the start of “something big” for plug-in vehicle sales in the US.  And sure, this past month also marks a full 2 years/24 months* worth of consecutive gains (an impressive accomplishment for sure), but we haven’t seen anything yet.

During the month, a new year high was set, as an estimated 21,325 plug-ins were sold, up 24% from the ~17,225 moved a year ago.

All-time, September of 2017 was the 2nd best result, trailing only last December’s tally (24,785).

Surprising…well, no one, the Tesla Model S took its normal position as the US sales leader for the last month of the quarter

Once again, strong results were put up by the familiar faces, as Tesla once again did its ‘end of the quarter’ US delivery explosion (after virtually taking July and August off) leading the gains, while at the same time cementing the Model S as the 2017 sales champion, selling an estimated near 5,000 copies in September – a 2017 high.

Unfortunately, while Tesla notched record Q3 sales overall (full details), production of the new Model 3 didn’t go so well, with the company only managing to build 260 copies (about 1,400 light of Q3 guidance), and deliver 220.

Previously in August an estimated ~16,639 overall plug-in sales were made (details).

Taking the “Tesla surge” out of the picture, the Chevrolet Bolt EV outshone all others, logging more than 2,600 sales, a new all-time high for the model; unfortunately the bright light on the Bolt cast a shadow on GM’s Volt, as the 53 mile extended range EV failed to meet year-over-year numbers for the 4th month in a row.

After 9 months, more than 140,000 plug-ins have been sold, and the 200,000 mark will easily fall before the year closes as we still anticipate big numbers for the Tesla Model 3 in the last month or two of the year, as well as much deeper inventory for the Toyota Prius Prime…and maybe even a handful of new, longer range 2018 Nissan LEAF sales.

Questions entering September (with answers in brackets as they come in):

  • Can the Chevrolet Volt, seemingly under sales pressure from  stablemate Bolt EV, snap a 5 month sales losing skid?  (No, and once again – it wasn’t close)
  • The Chevy Bolt EV is on a 6 month sales growth streak, can GM make it 7 in a row in September as the car finds itself in more states (more deeply) this month? (Big time yes)
  • Will this be the month that the Toyota Prius Prime shakes its inventory woes in the US and breaks the “2k barrier” for the first time? (Close, but no cigar)
  • The next generation Nissan LEAF debuted at a special event earlier in September (details/watch here).  Will the news the updated/long ranger LEAF hitting the ears of mainstream buyers slow current generation sales, and stop the (somewhat inexplicable) streak of  7 consecutive months of sales in the 4 digit range?  (Surprisingly, it did not)
  • In the continuing battle of “new 2018 offerings that aren’t stocked so well”, who will manage to sell more – the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid, Honda Clarity Electric, Volvo SC60 PHEV or the new Mini Countryman Plug-In?  (The new Volvo takes home the crown in September, with just under 100 sales)

Also of note: Toyota sold 184 Mirais, good for 1,044 in 2017 (vs 710 a year ago), while 14 Clarity FCV sales were noted.

Last update: Wednesday, October 4th, 7:25 PM

*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)

Below Chart: A individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.  (Previous year’s monthly results can be found on our fixed Scorecard page here)

2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** FCA/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data (Thanks to HybridCars for assist on Kia data), Honda Clarity estimated for Aug/Sept

Individual Plug-In Model Sales Recap For Major Models:

(limited to vehicles with ~500 sales/or potential for 500 sales in a given month)

Nest Generation, 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Next Generation, 2017 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt:  

When the Chevrolet Bolt EV first arrived on the scene, many wondered if its electrified cousin, the original GM plug-in Chevy Volt would be affected adversely.

The early returns were in the negative, as the Volt continued to sell decently enough, perhaps the two would augment each other?

However, as the Summer as arrived, and the Bolt inventory deepened and stretched out over the country, it appears that assumption was incorrect.

For the fourth consecutive month, Volt year-over-year sales have fallen, as 1,453 cars were sold in September, off  28.5% from the 2,031 sold a year ago.

Which trend will ultimately prove correct?  Only time will tell.

With the slightly lower than expected sales, inventory levels of the Volt have also come down somewhat.  After cresting ~6,000 units as Summer began, the plug-in Chevy has settled at a more reasonable ~5,000 unit level heading into the Fall.

The 2018 MY Volt (now at dealers) is mostly unchanged from the 2017 edition (details).



Chevrolet Bolt EV - looking to make its mark in 2017

Chevrolet Bolt EV – looking to make its mark in 2017

Chevrolet Bolt EV:   

The Chevrolet Bolt EV was finally available nationwide in August (well, technically anyway – many states still have little-to-no inventory).

And after selling 2,107 copies in August, the all-electric Chevy set the bar even higher in September, selling a record 2,632 cars in September!

September’s result put the Bolt EV within striking distance (1,046 units) of its stablemate Chevy Volt on the 2017 sales leaderboard – a result which now seems inevitable.

Also to note, the 238 mile EV has seen increasing sales month-over-month for the past 7 months.

Thanks to stronger sales, and an extended shutdown this Summer of the Bolt EV’s production facility in Orion, Michigan (mostly due to plummeting Sonic sales), inventory of the Bolt has leveled off/decreased somewhat at 5,000 units in August and actually dropped by a few hundred units in September, which is a little odd as the 238 mile EV is expected to be a hot seller into the 2017 year-end.

With national distribution widening more evenly over the next few months (and the end of the 2017 tax season – for claiming the $7,500 EV fed credit), we expect to ultimately see the Bolt EV hit the ~3,000 level before the year’s end.




2018 Nissan LEAF gets a new look, more range!

Nissan LEAF:    

The Nissan LEAF entered September as the oldest offering on the US market – going on 82 months now.

And as everyone knows by now, it will be replaced in about 3 months time, as the updated 2018 Nissan LEAF debuted earlier this month (full details here).

Is the new LEAF better?  Yes, in 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 arrives later in 2018 (as a 2019 MY car).

Despite the buying public long knowing the new (and better) LEAF was coming (we had been pounding the table that both a 40 kWh and a 60 kWh offering was to arrive going on two years), the ‘old LEAF’ has continued to sell well, thanks primarily to deep discounting.  In fact, LEAF sales had notched year-over-year gains in all 8 months of 2017.

However, that is all over now, as the 2017 MY production taps are shutdown, and Nissan has near-perfectly managed inventory levels;  moving from 2,000 units on average in stock in July, to 1,300 in August, to just over 600 units in September.

For last month Nissan did still manage to keep one streak active, as the company crossed into “4 digit land” for the 8th consecutive month with 1,055 deliveries, an impressive result (all things considered).

For the year (through August), 10,740 LEAFs have been sold, a gain of 16% over 2016 when 9,238 were moved over the same time in 2016.

Production of the new LEAF is underway now, with the first few copies of the 2018 LEAF reported to arrive in the US regionally in late December, with the first wave of depth arriving in January.





2017 Toyota Prius Prime

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime:   

After 18 months of waiting for the  first generation Prius plug-in to be replaced, the Toyota Prius Prime (details) arrived on US dealers lots on November 8th, and sales have not disappointed.

After setting a new high of 1,618 sales in March, Prius Prime sales has defied very low inventory levels for almost the whole year – selling a peak 1,908 in May!

Unfortunately, the Summer brought ‘really low’ inventory from Japan and sales dropped into the 1,600 range.  However that situation started to change in August, as dealer stock moved from under a 1,000 units to more than 2,000 exiting September.

The result was that 1,899 Prius Primes were moved in September – a whisker off the 2017 high, and based on this deeper inventory that seems to be arriving now, we look for the Prius Prime to note year-highs throughout the Fall/Q4 selling season.

The Toyota not only features its own unique look, but 25 miles of all-electric range.

How high could sales go?  It really is hard to say, we speculated before the model’s arrive last year we felt it could touch 4,000 or 5,000 units…and given that estimate was just eclipsed in May (5,369 sales) in the Toyota’s home market in Japan, (and followed by more than 4,000 in June) it seems like a realistic number, now more than ever.

When will enough inventory arrive to fill the demand void?  It’s still hard to say – for sure ~2,000 units is not near enough, but perhaps by year’s end – after the 2018 model year production is well underway in Japan this Fall.

Why the high acceptance?  The plug-in Toyota is priced right – from $27,950, which after the $4,500 federal credit is applied gives the Prime an effective price of $23,450, a price-point that is actually more than $1,000 cheaper than the base hybrid version…which should eventually translate into very strong sales once the EV is well stocked, as the standard version of the car can sell upwards of 10,000 units in a month.




BMW i3

BMW i3:  

The BMW i3 entered the US market with a bang in 2014, but it is 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, things started rough, with just 182 sales logged 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 201 – but that was the lone bright spot. Since then sales have languished in the ~500 range.

For September specifically, sales continued to be depressed, with 538 deliveries during the month, roughly the same as the month prior.

For the year, 4,635 i3s have been sold, off 20% from last year when 5,763 had been sold through the first 9 months.

Quite frankly, 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 is going to have to sharpen its pencil…and by a lot.

In late August, BMW underlined they 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 gets some new styling details, some wider tires and some extra performance (+10 kW), but what the public really wants is a price cut (the new i3s is ~10% more in most markets), and a longer range option.






2014 Tesla Model S

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 (see below)

Revisions/disclaimer to accuracy of prior estimates: The 2016 Model S chart has been adjusted (via US 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, 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.

Over the past two month, we noted the almost complete lack of focus on domestic Model production by Tesla, which truthfully isn’t all that uncommon, but this quarter had been especially dry after July and August, as Tesla seemed to be focused on selling down  older/discontinued models and blowing out built inventory.

In fact, those suspicions were confirmed eary in October, as Tesla reported more deliveries overall in Q3 than vehicles produced – something that hasn’t happened in years.

By late August however, we noted that all that had changed, and the Fremont production facility was churning out record numbers of Model S sedans, almost all headed to US customers…and that didn’t stop in September.

We estimate that a 2017 high 4,860 copies were sold.

Further to those numbers, with the first real US production volume in months, we got our first real look at the model trim level distribution with just the 75 kWh and 100 kWh batteries being offered.

With Tesla “anti-selling” the Model 3, and promoting a Model S purchase ‘you can get today’ over the less expensive new model, sales of the entry level 75 kWh car well outpaced the 100 kWh offering.  From the data we could collect, the 75 kWh Model S outsold the 100 kWh version by a rate of more than 5-to-1 in September.

Is this the new norm with US customer?   Or just an obscure one-off given the high level of attention given to the Model 3’s arrival (in very limited/controlled numbers) in late July, and the realization of some of the ~450,000+ reservists that there is still a long wait ahead?  We tend to believe the latter, and expect the balance to equalize some in the coming months.








Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

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)

Historical accuracy/Sales Update (Oct 11th):

Tesla recently leaked US sales data for Q3 2016 put US 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 – and not to brag…but that means 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 where within ~200 units.

As with the Tesla Model S, we noted very little customer orders for the Model X were actually delivered during July and August.

What we did see was a fair shake of discounted inventory and demo SUVs finding new homes in the US, and trend which continued somewhat in September, as Model X custom-built orders appeared to get off to a bit slower start to end the quarter than the S.

While the Model S production and delivery for the US went into hyper-drive by late August, the Model X appeared to diverge somewhat from the sedan in September – after a year of posting very similar results.

However to be fair, the Model S was squarely in focus late in Q3, as we suspect a fair number of the ~450,000+ reservists for the Model 3 considered a S purchase, once they received their personalized  “estimated delivery” dates for the less expensive Tesla – some of which indicated over a year’s worth of wait for certain trims and regions.

With that said, we still estimate a very robust 3,120 Model X utility vehicles were delivered, a 2017 high.




Tesla Model 3

This is the first Tesla Model 3 (#001), naturally it arrived in black – lord of all colors. Want to buy it any other way? $1,000 premium fine for bad taste.

Tesla Model 3:  It has arrived!

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 28th, 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 US at this point time.  Until then 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).

Thankfully, in these early days (Q3 2017), pegging Model 3 sales in the US is a pretty easy task, as the complete delivery volume for July took place live at the July 28th delivery event in Fremont, California, as the first 30 cars were delivered to Tesla employees/stakeholders in the US, and one could almost count the individual cars as they left Tesla’s Fremont factory in August.

Unfortunately, these early Model 3s are a virtual captured fleet as deliveries are only going to the Musk “family of company” employees and ‘friends’ of Tesla.  And as part of the deal, no external, mass-media has been granted extended access to the car as of yet.

As for deliveries and production of the Model 3 in Q3 we had this directive from Musk to go by from July:

“Handover party for first 30 customer Model 3’s on the 28th! Production grows exponentially, so Aug should be 100 cars and Sept above 1500.”

Again, no sleuthing is necessary on our part to get September’s results, as the company discloses overall sales numbers at the end of each quarter.  With all the Model 3 sales going to the US, and knowing that just over ~105 cars were delivered in July and August…it is simple math.

Unfortunately, Tesla whiffed  on its production estimates for the Model 3 in Q3 (details), and managed to build just 260 copies, selling 220 over the three months.  Meaning that ~115 deliveries were made during September – a disappointing result for sure.

The company said it was aware of the issue and it was not going to impede its progress with the Model 3.

Model 3 production was less than anticipated due to production bottlenecks. Although the vast majority of manufacturing subsystems at both our California car plant and our Nevada Gigafactory are able to operate at high rate, a handful have taken longer to activate than expected.

It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain. We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term.”





Chrysler Pacific Plug-In Hybrid

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: 

The much anticipated plug-in extended range passenger van arrived in January, albeit in stealth, stuttered… and very limited in fashion.

Due to some odd quirks with production timing and plant scheduling we have had a 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 22nd, 2017, and customers enjoyed a good 3-4 weeks of arriving inventory…until the wheels fell off (not literally).

By June 10th a nationwide recall was announced, and all 1,677 Pacificas sold in the US and Canada had to head back to Chrysler to get a faulty diode replaced that could cause lost of power when in operation.  We won’t get into all the details from there (check out our June sales report for more info).

Thankfully by mid-August, salable vans began to re-appear at on Chrysler dealer lots – at least of the 2017 MY variety, and deliveries were back underway.

With that said, inventory has yet to get “super deep” and sales are still very much constrained, as model year 2018 production, despite having first gotten underway a couple months ago, have been held in a QC hold for the recalls repairs to be implemented (or waiting on 2017s to get sold first perhaps), leaving only the ‘fixed’ 2017 Pacifica Hybrids to make up the bulk of September’s sales.

For September, we estimate that 475 Pacifica Hybrids were delivered – all of them  2017 editions.

We should note that those 2018 Pacifica Hybrids were given the ‘green light’ on September 25th, so we expect to see today’s inventory level of about ~400 vans explode late in October, along with much higher sales to end out the year.

Also to note, Chrysler’s Windsor plant, where the Pacifica Hybrid is built, is undergoing a 4 week shutdown for Grand Caravan/US regulatory tooling issues that began on October 2nd (through October 30th) – it remains to be seen how this will effect dealer inventory later in Q4, but new customer orders this month will likely take a solid ~8 weeks to get delivered.




2017 BMW 330e - Like All Plug-Ins Sold In The US, It Wisely Is Offered In Black

2017 BMW 330e – Like All Plug-Ins Sold In The US, It Wisely Is Offered In Black

BMW 330e:    

Arriving on the US market about a year ago was the BMW 330e, which is the plug-in hybrid version of the company’s high selling 3 series offering.

And while the 330e (from $44,695 including DST), physically arrived in April 2016 in a token amount, and it took BMW 9 months to begin to stock the vehicle even marginally.  A process which has finally started to take hold in mid-2017.

By May 2017 some decent inventory arrived, and sales followed, as the 330 sold 475, then 499 in June.

Unfortunately, the 330e fell back this Summer and notched a 4-month low in September with just 329 sales – which was still good enough to keep it moving up the sales charts into 12th, passing a couple porrly stocked offerings from the VW Group – the VW e-Golf in July and the Audi A3 e-tron in August.

On the inventory side, the 330e peaked at around 750 cars in July, before falling back to almost 400 units – thankfully the 2018s are arriving now, and inventory is back about 700 units heading into October -hopefully on their way much, much higher – because BMW could certainly show even better results with this offering.

As for the specs, the final EPA ‘real world’ range rating of just 14 all-electric miles  (via a 7.6 Kwh battery – 5.7 usable) was a disappointment for some hoping for a number closer to 20, but with a 75 mph top speed in “Max eDrive”, it is a capable offering (featuring a 2 liter turbo inline 4) and should satisfy the traditional BMW crowd and be a strong seller.

The electric motor develops 87 hp with maximum peak torque of 184 lb-ft, when combined with the petrol engine, the total output jumps to 248 hp, with a peak torque of 310 lb-ft, allowing a sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and  a top speed of 140 mph.




Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron:     

After selling between about ~400 copies a month in Q1 (387, 400 and 414), Audi slipped in Q2, and now into  Q3.

For May Audi moved 294 A3 e-trons, before increasing to 324 copies in June.

Unfortunately, that May-to-June gain was pulled back in July and August, as just 218 and 129 plug-in Audis were sold (respectively).  For September, just 85 were moved – the worst result for the car since in was introduced in 2015.

To be fair, all of this drop can be attributed to some poor planning/thin end of year inventory of the Sportback; currently only about 50-odd 2017s are left in stock.  Hey Audi, make with the 2018s already!

In 2016, 4,280 copies were sold…a not insignificant contribution to the US plug-in vehicle sales scene.  That said, Audi is still certainly not in the “big boys” category for EV sales, but also is definitely not in the “also rans” either.

Quirky fact not really related to EV sales, but certainly aided with the arrival of the A3 e-tron, the Audi brand has now set 80 consecutive months of record year-over-year sales in the US.

The A3 e-tron has a low price inside Audi’s lineup. $38,900 gets you the Audi badge, 8.8 kWh of battery – good for 17-odd miles of real world driving…and federal credit of $4,158, which is significant because this brings the e-tron package down to within $3,500 of the base MSRP of the A3.

Also a reason for decent sales numbers on the A3 e-tron…you can’t get the “sportback” version of the Audi in any other trim level in the US.  Check out our own early/pre-delivery review on the Audi A3 e-tron here.





Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

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 “4 digit land” in March, as 1,002 Energis were moved in March…joining a club of just 5 other at that level.  A level which the company returned to in May…but could not maintain, as just 707 copies were sold in June, and an near equal amount in July and August at 703 and 762 deliveries respectively.

In September, Ford completed the “boringest” sales report of all time, as all three of their plug-in offerings reported near identical result, with the Fusion Energi notching 763 sales…up an impressive 1 unit.

Looking at the inventory in the past, it was easy to see why (and how) so many of the new Fusion plug-ins were sold;  the Fusion Energi often won the crown for the “most stocked” EV in the US … before Chevy got crazy with the Volt and Bolt EV.

With that said, Ford had been struggling to keep production on pace with demand (or they are managing inventory lower)…after having almost 3,000 in stock in mid-June, by the start of  September that number fallen below 2,00 units, as the industry-wide Summer shutdown/changeover to MY 2018 was underway.

Thankfully, the 2018s began to arrive late in August, and inventory has started to deepen (around 700 2018s were in stock starting October – and growing), so we hope for higher/better results soon.





Volkswagen e-Golf Comes To The US In November

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf:    

Congratulations Volkswagen, you win our “jackass of the year” award…and 2017 isn’t close to be over yet.

After a rocky start with continued dieselgate fallout, the longer range 2017 e-Golf was promised to the US after production started in Germany in late 2016.

Well, guess what?  For the next nine months all VW did have the “old & busted” 2016s clogging up dealer lots – refusing to clear them out to make way for the new hotness.

Finally the 2016s are gone, and like a magical unicorn, the new/longer range 2017 edition has appeared!  And yes, you heard that right, VW was so slow with the upgraded model that they are just now introducing a “2017” model as everyone else has switched to the 2018s.

Despite the lack of  these 2017 e -Golfs for the bulk of the year, the older model sold decently enough (relatively speaking to historical sales), moving about ~300 copies a month on average this year until this past month.

With the 2016s exhausted, and only just over 100 copies of the “new” 2017s on hand, VW moved 187 e-Golfs in Septemeber – a 2017 low.

The 2017 plug-in VW will now feature a 35.8 kWh battery, increasing range to ~124 miles and debuted at the LA Auto Show in November (details – launch gallery/video).





Ford C-Max Energi

Ford C-Max Energi:   

If it wasn’t for the impressive results of the Ford Fusion Energi every month, we probably would look at C-Max Energi results a lot differently.  And in June AND July…we finally did.

Last year…for just one month, the plug-in C-Max manged to step out of the Fusion’s shadow for the first time, and sold an all-time best 1,289 copies – 17% more than the Fusion Energi.

But in June and July, that trick was repeated back-to-back, as the C-Max Energi sold an impressive 936 copies, 33% more than the Fusion Energi (707) in June, then again 844 to 703 in July (+20%).

August however fell short, as the smaller Ford plug-in couldn’t make it three consecutive wins in a row, but it was still close, as the C-Max plug-in moved 705 copies (just 57 behind the Fusion).  In September, a similar 683 cars were sold.

Will the C-Max Energi ever get its due as a top-selling plug-in model for the US?  Probably not. Especially as we just spotted the new Ford Escape Energi plug-in out testing in the US in June…a model which, along with a Focus Energi (a trademark application for which we recently uncovered), basically signifies the end of the C-Max Energi.




2014 Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e

Fiat 500e:   

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: After initially have some issues getting data on the plug-in Fiat, more registration and rebate data is now available. That being said, the number is estimated. Historically, the average margin of error per month has been about ~40 units in those moments when some confirmed data leaks out (usually from a recall).  For 2016, the yearly estimated total was adjusted upwards (once) by approximately 500 units over the full 12 months.

For most of 2016, the Fiat 500e was a consistently solid performer, but 2017 results have really result move even higher (amazing what ~$100 lease deals can do!)

It is interesting to note that sales this year peaked in January (of all months) at an estimated ~752 sales, but the sales have stayed strong for most of the year.


And by most of the year, we mean up until Summer, as for some reason the 500e seems to sell less in the Summer – we aren;t quite sure why, but it might have something to do with FCA’s production timing, which seems to always ‘short the distance’ it needs to bridge the gap between the previous model year and the next.  Currently, about 300 2017s are in stock in California and Oregon, a year-low according to our calculations.

For September we estimate that 375 500es were sold.



BMW X5 xDrive40e

x5 xDrive40e

BMW X5 xDrive40e: 

The BMW X5 plug-in had an unexpectedly strong debut in the US in 2016…and only get stronger over the year.

In fact the electrified BMW SUV has seen sales as high as 876 units in 2016 (August 2016).

However, 2017 has been a bit of a disappointment for the X5 plug-in, as inventories have stayed frustratingly low (insert this complaint for almost all BMW plug-ins found in America), and sales are sure to show a year-over-year loss at this point…barring a Christmas miracle.

After a lackluster August (317 sales), September was pretty much more of the same, as 333 copies moved during the month.

And while inventory is still oppressively low (sub 300 units), we are happy to be able to report that 2018s are now arriving late in the month, representing about half the current stock.  Hopefully enough plug-in SUVs will arrive that BMW can once again make a push to try and break into the 4-digit mark!


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

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89 Comments on "September 2017 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card"

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If I’ve been following IEV’s sales figures correctly, this puts Tesla’s U.S. sales at 146,565 toward the tax credit (Apologies if my numbers are off here). If they continue to grow S/X sales at a 30% year over year rate they’ll hit 177,000 in March 2018 without factoring additional M3 sales. So if they churn out 23,000 M3s between now and March 2018, they’ll hit 200,000 in Q1. I think many reservation holders will be upgrading to the Long Range M3 or S75D. And some may even cross to the dark side and get a Chevy Bolt.

End of year ranking:
#1 Model S
#2 Model X
#3 Bolt EV
#4 Prius Prime
#5 Volt
#6 Leaf

My end of year guess would be more like:

1.) Model S
2.) Bolt
3.) Prius Prime
4.) Model X
5.) Volt

The Bolt seems to be picking up sales and the Volt is losing them. So I think the Bolt will end up being #2 on the year. And for the wishful thinking award, I’ll put in the Model 3 as 6th.

I’m going out on a limb and say the Model 3 will be no higher than 7 (or less than 13k units).

Model X is not going to blossom again until December when the discounts start hitting again. it may be tough to get to or stay at #3. But if discounting continues and Model 3 reservation holders just get an MS or MX then it may do ok.

Awesome number again. Will we see 20k this month?


Yup, easily.


From ~21k this month, Model S+X will drop 4k due to first-month-of-quarter syndrome. Leaf will drop 500 due to lack of inventory. Model 3 should rise 500-1000 but that’s about it on teh plus side.

18k would be a strong October. December will be the barn-burner.

Real story is that with over 2/3 of the card still unfilled, we’re already with 400 units of the August numbers!

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Fugly as it is, the Pri Prime just keeps chugging away…

Perhaps not everyone shares your opinion.

Perhaps. I share his opinion on the Prius Prime having aesthetic issues. Ugly? No. Belongs in a Voltron cartoon? Definitely. Toyota did not care much for my sarcasm when I was out in Torrance this February. “wow, is that all six Miura’s ever made, parked next to each other?” “Why don’t you have EV charging at your headquarters?”

Really disappointing these Prius Prime Advanced buyers aren’t jumping to an i3 REX lease instead. A far better car in all categories. Especially, with the revolution in safety systems going on today, you don’t want to be stuck with 2017 safety systems with the soon to be available autonomous driving safety systems that should be perfected in about 3 years.

Then again, you’ve got to find a BMW dealer that wants to own the EV revolution. Many of the BMW dealers act like Chevy dealers, and hide the i3 like Chevy hides the Volt.

It’s a better car in some categories. It’s not a better car if you do a significant amount of driving on gas, as the gas performance is hindered. Even compared to the slow Prius Prime.

I’m not sure why you’re talking up driver aids. Toyota is the one who is putting such systems standard on all their cars. BMW has a reduced set and makes them optional. Maybe the i3 will have more capabilities than Toyota later but I can’t see why anyone would let that affect what car they bought/leased in September 2017.

Prime standard safety features:

  –  Dynamic Radar Cruise
  –  Pre-Collision Braking
  –  Lane-Departure Detect with Assist
  –  Automatic High-Beams

The shear odds of a Toyota owner switching to BMW is laughable. Toyota is all about long term quality and value for your buck. BMW is one of the least reliable brands long term there is. Someone at CarandDriver said once ‘the only thing less reliable long term than a Mini might be a BMW’ of course now being the same manufacturer. In that same vein Toyota purchasers are way less likely to lease and more likely to have long term ownership. It’s just a different customer altogether in my opinion.

Used to be called the PiP, now it’s just the PP 😉

PiP = Plug in Prius

PP = Prius Prime

I guess you didn’t get the joke? P is the stuff that should be kept out of pools, so PP is…

Maybe because it looks better than the regular Prius…

HOV lane access. Big reason people buy them – and never plug them in.

Does anyone actually have evidence of this? It’s something that keeps getting tossed around, but other than a few anecdotes it doesn’t seem to have much basis.

Prime is cannibalizing Prius Sedan sales. Prius (Sedan + Plug-in) sales are still significantly down compared to last year.

I think that Prime could be higher, but it’s inventory-constrained as Toyota’s selling more per month in Japan.

(Note September sales: RAV4 Hybrid 5759, Prius HEV Sedan 5722. Very good sign for the Outlander PHEV.)

The Bolt is turning into a legitimate hit. I’ll bet it leads all plug-in sales in October and November.

I’ll give you those months, but not December. My prediction is that Tesla dominates with a 1-2-3 sweep for December.

I think our local Tesla service center is getting multiple trucks a week for new deliveries. The Model III showed up in a special truck, though! We have the best Tesla-related stalkers in Minnesota.

I’m honestly not convinced that Model 3 production is even going to have ramped up by December.

Not totally sure. National roll-out should help, but it’s hard to separate overall trend and roll-out at the moment.

Didn’t sales start of the 2018 leaf? Do you think we are going to hear anything about that?

It’s tough to figure out numbers when the OEMs don’t release specific sales figures, but how exactly are you estimating the Pacifica Hybrid figures? I’ve read that specific section multiple times and don’t get it.

Thank you.

I always come here for my morning cup of kool-aid. 🙂

Here in central Virginia I have seen one other Bolt so far. Maybe twice a week I see a Leaf. I see Tesla’s and Volts almost daily. Most days, I ride my electric assist bicycle past a house with THREE monster trucks, and one regular pickup (the grocery getter?). Sitting at the Tastee Freez, I see 50 pickups, and 10 full dress cruiser bikes, in the time it takes to get my order. Over half the Bolts that were available within 75 miles of here, are still available two and a half months on.

Marketplace had it a bit more in perspective.

Minor typo, but it caught my eye because it’s funny: the Volt summary mentions the month of “Speteeber”.

Thank you for putting this together.

That’s a lot of Model Ses. Kudos.

I’m sorry to hear about the Volt, it seems obvious to me the Bolt is taking its sales away in the areas where it has been selling well. Those areas by now have good infrastructure and people can convince themselves to try a Bolt.

GM needs to market the Volt to new areas of the country which haven’t had large adoption of EVs yet. It’s a big country, find some new Volt buyers.

I also wonder if it is partially due to the form factor of the two cars – the Volt would be fine if you only carried small children or just as commuting, but wouldn’t work at all for my lifestyle. We needed a hatch, so when I was comparing in 2014 in Canada, Leaf and Volt were only option. Went with Leaf because of form factor. Today I would go with a Bolt for the same reason.

The Volt technically is a hatchback, it’s just more sedan-like than crossover-like. The Volt’s shape is good for efficiency, but the Bolt’s shape is definitely better for convenience and visibility.

Volt needs a price cut and Chevy needs to get quality back up to first gen Volt standards.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Is anyone else getting the website rendering strangely?
It like the old Unix style text output and formatting like old Netscape Navigator 2.1……lol

Me too. I have seen it a few times lately on Chrome.

I had that issue sometimes on Sunday and Monday, but so far not today.

Running XP and Firefox here. (Okay, no “dinosaur” jokes. 🙂 ) Oddly enough, if I hit any “Reply” button, the formatting fixes itself.

Jay did address the issue in a comment or two. Something about a security upgrade to the website. Anyway, it’s not just you, and InsideEVs staff is aware of the problem.

I’m glad that you finally decided to upgrade from Windows 95 and ditch your Netscape browser. Welcome to the 21st century!

Did you upgrade to a 56.6k modem yet? You could be surfing the web at blazing speeds on your dialup AOL connection. It’s like dialup Ludicrous Mode!

Sometimes I’m tempted to go back to Windows 3.11. It didn’t have nearly as many problems that all versions since then have had.

But actually, the most user-friendly computer I’ve ever used, and the only one I really have nostalgia for, is the Apple ][. Probably not gonna be easy to run a Firefox browser on the Apple ][, though, and the 64k + 64k of RAM memory is a bit sub-optimal to run modern programs. 😉

Dang Model S! Nice month!

Another good month for Bolt EV too.

Surprised that Volt still hasn’t caught back up, but considering the drop off of Chevys other small sedans, the long range of the Bolt, and competition from the Prime, the sales numbers are not surprising I suppose.

Gotta think that a variety of reasons were found for Model 3 reservations to turn to a lower priced Model S 75 or 75D, especially if offered from inventory.

It is a good month overall for EVs.

The woes of Volt is mostly due to affordable BEVs with long range. Volt was always a transitional car (the best ever). But now that 200 miles+ cars are available and affordable, there is less incentives to buy the Volt.

Those who absolutely have to have the gas range are gravitating to larger PHEV or more efficient gas mode PHEVs. Plus, Prius got a huge base to draw from. So, it still sells.

But great news overall.

Model S sales push are mostly due to delay in Model 3 and underselling which pushes some of the buyer into Model S and huge inventory cars build up from last quarter.

Hi Jay,
Could you please do and update to the race to 200,000 sold/manufacturer / $7,500 phase-out calendar soon?

IIRC, GM expected to sell 30k Bolts annually. If that happens in 2017, these next 3 months will have to average more than 5200/month.

Not quite… LG stated that GM would produce over 30k Bolt EVs /Ampera-es this year. Globally, not just in the US. And the 2018 hasn’t been announced yet so expect there to be remaining inventory up until the end of the year.

So I expect them to sell in the mid-to-high 20s worldwide. ~24k in the US. ~3k worldwide.

Would be happy if they sold more of course!

I just don’t understand why the Fiat e500 outsells the Ford Focus Electric month after month. The FFE beats the e500 in every category including price. My only explanation is that Fiat does a better job at marketing the e500 than Ford does at marketing the FFE.

It’s the lease deals. Trust me, I’ve only seen one Fiat 500e in Minnesota, yet a FFE is usually plugged in at the airport every week, and there’s always at least one at the local EV gatherings.

Yes, for leasers it’s half the price.

I may be looking at needing to buy a second car in the next six months – right now I work from home and we use a C-Max Energi for “family” driving but my WFH deal my change – and I’m not sure what used EV to get.

500e, Spark EV, and FFE are all options in my mind, though the used FFEs are currently $2k more from what I see. There is a fairly local dealer that will service 500es here in southeastern PA. FFE would be most useful otherwise since we have 3 kids – couldn’t fit everybody in the 500e or Spark EV.

If you’re not concerned about space I’d probably consider the Spark EV. GM EV tech is solid. Fiat 500e…bleh, maybe if it’s dirt cheap.

Also if you want a 500e, I’d suggest looking at new lease deals. You can get them cheap and be rid of it in a few years when better options are available (used Bolt for example).

New 500es are not sold in Pennsylvania, but dealers do sell off-lease ines as CPO.

Trying find out about FFE from Ford dealer is next to impossible. Frankly, I am amazed Ford sold as many as it did.

Also, 500e is better than 500gasser while FFE is not so much compared to comparably priced Focus ST. I can see people going into Fiat dealer to get 500gasser and getting swayed to 500e, but I can’t imagine people going for Focus ST getting swayed to FFE, especially when they can’t even find out if it exists through the dealer.

Finally, see ev-vin blog about 500e lease pricing. They are the lowest cost lease EV available today.

In the area I’m in it’s easy to get a 500e and hard to get a FFE. There just aren’t many to be had.

And the area I’m in buys (including leases) something like 40% of all the EVs in the entire country.

So these experiences do show through in the final numbers.

My guess is that since Ford is still outsourcing the entire drivetrain, they are probably not profitable vehicles. So they simply do not stock them at the dealers. However, I believe Ford does make their PHEVs in house so they are probably actually profitable on those. I have never seen a Focus Electric on Ford dealer’s new-car lot.

Looks like Jay and his team was busy as the proverbial one-armed paper hanger gathering data this past month! Altho perhaps not more so than usual? Some interesting trends here. I see Jay continues to predict the Bolt EV will reach sales of ~3000 per month, despite the model consistently disappointing, with lower sales than expected. Ditto for the Prius Prime, altho there it seems pretty clear the problem is lack of supply, not flagging demand. Tesla continues to promise faster ramping up for the Model 3. Well, we’ll see. As has been pointed out by Tesla itself, a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And that goes for Tesla’s internal supply, too… which Tesla seems to be claiming in its PR is the bottleneck in TM3 production. But according to an Electrek article: “Among the early production issues, Tesla had to replace battery packs on Model 3 produced in July due to corrections on welds and it also had to replace ground terminal bolts on Model 3 produced in August.” It’s good to see Model S sale surge ahead, making up for the previous two lackluster months of sales. Tesla claims to be able to… Read more »
It looks like a fairly standard ramp up for the Model 3 which is OK. From what Tesla are saying it sounds like there are a whole heap of cars in a parking lot waiting for a critical model 3 specific part that can be added at a later stage – like the door handles. I’d prefer to see thousands of cars leaving for customers on the back of flat bed trucks but as long as all that is wrong is a parts shortage I think everything should be ok and hopefully on track by the end of the year. In some ways it isn’t such a bad thing as it means that there will be a few hundred in the “wild” before the big surge of vehicles leave the factory. That way any minor problems can be solved before things get too expensive with big recalls. Hopefully this is the case, it would suck a great deal if the problem is early in the manufacturing process and they haven’t built anything yet on the main line with the few cars that have come out are still being made on a pilot line – that kind of problem could delay… Read more »

And Model-S had a year’s high at 4,860. Champion in its class.
Good to see the Bolt hitting new highs.

Benz S-Class took a 27% hit in sales. It clocked only 1058.
Audi A8 took a 17% hit in sales. It clocked only 276.
Acura-RLX:94 units, Infiniti-Q70:550 units, Lexus-LS:432 units, BMW-935 units, Cadillac-CTS:985 units, Cadillac-XTS:1300 units, Lincoln Continental:816 units. And the total of the rest of luxury automakers comes to 6446. Model-S alone has 2/3 this #.

Meanwhile Model-3 sales of 115 in Sep is more than the 84 units of Honda Clarity sold in 2017-Q3. Seems Clarity EV is just another compliance car and customers have rejected it because of it’s sub 100 mile range.

Volt for MY-2018 has gone on sale without any price reduction despite reduction in battery cost and increase in competition.

What happened to eGolf MY-2017, its sales dipped below 200 for the first time.

I’m not surprised Volt sale weren’t so hot. If it’s anything like my area near Syracuse, New York a search of three local Chevrolet dealers found only 5 Volts for sale. You can’t sell them if the dealers don’t have any.

Rick Kop
You are correct. In 100 miles radius of Chicago, there are 120 Volts and 3,200+ Malibus. Even full size SUVs like Suburban has 460+,
No wonder, Volt sales are so low.
And GM will say that customers are not there.

Tesla has over 8K in Sept, when the total is around 18K.
That is around 45% of the entire US market.
Assuming that Tesla is finally scaling up on model 3, then for the rest of the year, Tesla should account for 50-66% of all American PHEVs.
And GM nor the rest will even come close.

Yes its the home field advantage. Thus is nothing new, keep going back 5 years. The 11K tesla sold in china in All of 2016 joke of a market share is a major problem. When Model S & X has hit Peak everywhere and Waiting List = 0, the question and whar shoild be major determinant of stock price in when Model 3 Waiting List = 0 in California.

Good month for a few models. Not so good for most.

Interesting that the Mirai seems to be selling quite well, but is there any news about the Honda Clarity FCX?

Only 220 Model 3’s in 3 months? Didn’t the Bolt sell over 1000 in its first month?

What the next generation battery for EV needs to be:
High density
light weight
Quick charging less than 10 minutes/ 5 minutes
Long lasting more than 10000 cycles with no degradation
Solid State

Toshiba came up with a good fast charging battery recently but lacks details rare earth metals used, how much could it cost kwh, we already have cheaper technologies come out lately which haven’t made it to production

Jean-François Morissette

Never been this long to see the final numbers 🙂

Tesla Model S deliveries in the US so far in 2017: 19,630.

It doesn’t seem very likely that there will be more than 10,000 new Tesla Model S deliveries in the US in the remaining three months of 2017, so that the total number of Tesla Model S deliveries in the US in 2017 will reach the 30,000 number.

Though, in Q4 we will see some peak numbers.

That would be a very nice surprise if it would happen.

2018 End of year ranking:

#1 Tesla Model 3
#2 Nissan Leaf
#3 Chevrolet Bolt EV
#4 Toyota Prius Prime
#5 Tesla Model S
#6 Tesla Model X
#7 Chevrolet Volt

Push the LEAF down to number 6 and I believe you have it right.

Jean-François Morissette

My biggest deception in the recent years is that even if we maybe in a S-curve growth on the agglomerate results, there are not really any S-curve among individual models.

This year, the growth come exclusively from the new models (mainly Bolt, Prime and the bunch of new PHEV). The only models growing steadily are also new models like the Bolt and the BMW 530e. The Kia Soul EV and and Volvo XC90 have seen recent uptrend, but on really small volumes.

I would have expected that year over year, main models would have greater growth. Maybe we will see that happening in 2018 and beyond with the new LEAF, the model 3.

Jay Cole
Earlier news in mentioned that close to 103,000 plugins were sold worldwide in Aug, but the current dashboard says its 105,801. If the current dashboard is true, then Aug has overtaken last year december. Is that correct?

Wow – 21,325 plug-ins sold is a big #.
From December on wards, 20,000+ should become the norm.

Plugin sales are coming close to 60% of the hybrid sales and BEV sales alone are exceeding the Diesel vehicle sales.

At a price of $30,480 (incl dest charges), Honda is able to move 2200+ units of their Accord-Hybrid. For just another $4,000, we can get a Volt which has a wonderful 53 mile AER and decent 42 MPG although its smaller by 10 cu. ft.

But Volt could not sell even 2,000 units. Either GM is not providing enough supplies or dealers are not selling. Otherwise Volt should be one of the best selling cars.

Oh I forgot to mention that after Fed rebate, Volt will cost only $26,500 which is nearly 4K less than Accord-Hybrid.

Among the Honda Clarity siblings, sister BEV sold 52 while brother FEV sold 14.

Mom and dad are going to scold the foolish brother.

In a few months, mom will deliver baby sister PEV (Plugin) which is much smarter as she can run on both electricity and gasoline. Let’s see what she can do.

I will make a bold prediction the the Bolt will be #1 by the end of December.

As Bolt looks like it can increase by 500 vehicles per month, that would put its Oct-Nov-Dec sales at 3100, 3600, & 4100 cars respectively. Presuming Model S flattens a bit to sell 1200, 1200, and 2500 cars respectively would put the Bolt in the #1 position.

Yep… I know… Bold!

According to other sources, Honda sold 31 of their fuel cell vehicles, not the 14 reported here.

I have no idea which figure is correct, but the trend recently seems to favour 31.