Report: Tesla Projected To Be U.S. Plug-In Sales Leader Through 2021, But VW Second?

3 months ago by Eric Loveday 36

More than a few Tesla Model 3 sales will made over the coming years!

Due largely to projected Model 3 sales, Tesla is expected to have the highest volume of U.S. electric vehicle sales through 2021.

With the introduction of the Tesla Model 3 in July (details), including the delivery of the first 30 units (watch here), Bloomberg New Energy Finance believes that the electric automaker will easily hold the U.S. plug-in electric vehicle sales lead through at least 2021.

A sentiment, which if anyone has been following the plug-in sales for the US over the past few years (full historical stats listed here), should be fairly easily to agree with.

Bloomberg states:

“The automaker led by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk will emerge as “the stand-out” in total cumulative deliveries through 2021, reaching nearly 709,000 vehicles, according to BNEF’s Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook…”

“Tesla is projected to pull away from current leader General Motors Co., which may slip behind Volkswagen AG’s aggregate sales of plug-in hybrid and fully electric autos in four years’ time.”

“While BNEF expects Tesla, VW and GM will lead the EV charge in 2021, the research group owned by Bloomberg LP predicts at least three other automakers will have also surpassed the 200,000 cumulative sales mark in the U.S. by that year. After crossing that threshold, buyers are no longer eligible for the full federal $7,500 tax credit toward purchases of vehicles from those manufacturers.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave out the first 30 Tesla Model 3s on July 28th, 2017 in California

With Tesla projected to be the clear leader, the question is which automaker will be in second place? Believe it or not, BNEF predicts that Volkswagen will go from relatively few sales today, all the way up to the number 2 spot by 2021. This is based on several promised EV launches from VW in the coming years.

Bloomberg adds:

“The prediction BNEF settled on that Volkswagen could climb to the No. 2 spot by 2021 was the “the most contentious” of the research group’s projections, McKerracher said. The German automaker doesn’t yet have the same presence in the U.S. market as other electric-focused automakers, though the opportunity is there for the company to rank among the leaders based on all the vehicle launches it’s announced.”

We would say “No kidding the decision was contentious”, as it borders on the ludicrous in our opinion.

While VW may eventually take the #2 spot in the future, but we can find almost no scenario it can get there by 2021; even recent VW press releases are touting the arrival of it major plug-in offerings AFTER 2021 – like this week’s announcement that the ~270 mile I.D. BUZZ microbus will arrive in 2022.  Even, the first major EV for the brand – the I.D. Sedan doesn’t arrive until 2020, and the crossover I.D. Crozz in ~2021.

If we are talking about total plug-in sales, we’d project Tesla (1), Nissan (2), Toyota and General Motors to all be in front of VW in 2021.  For pure EVs, it has to be Tesla then Nissan.

Like all forecast reports, we’ll find out in four years’ time if Bloomberg (and our own) predictions hold true.

Source: Bloomberg

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36 responses to "Report: Tesla Projected To Be U.S. Plug-In Sales Leader Through 2021, But VW Second?"

  1. Rick says:

    Toyota?? Are you serious? Even gm seems dubious…. What did gm and Toyota show that indicates they’ll make EVs in large volume? They don’t even have concept cars.

    1. theflew says:

      I would expect GM to be first or second. Toyota is playing their cards close. GM and Toyota have no real reason to announce anything. Don’t confuse silence for lack of intention. Because of the diesel scandal VW has to be very open about their future intentions. The Bolt shows GM is more than capable of building an EV. And Toyota has the money to do what ever it wants.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Just to give some context…and because Toyota is probably one of the most interesting ‘logical thought bubbles’ at the moment.

        In this case Bloomberg is talking about total plug-in sales by 2021…and we have to note they seem to have completely forgotten about Toyota, likely because in 2016 (and 2015) its sales were very little.

        Bloomberg graphic on sales today/expectations:

        With that said, Toyota isn’t just starting today from zero, they have already banked 42,345 1st gen Prius PHV sales, and 2,502 RAV4 EV sales, couple that in with the 13,759 Prime sales in the US, and they net out at 58,606 sales through July 2017.

        More data points: GM is at ~146,436, Tesla ~132,739, Nissan ~112,128.

        Toyota is likely the biggest wildcard of the 4, as the company’s Prime is yet to be shipped in any volume to the US, selling every copy that arrives in about ~8 days on the lot, with Japan hitting 5k and 4k a couple times over the past month. So, at least in theory, the Prime could ultimately be selling 3k-4k+ in the US once it is stocked (basically bastardizing tradition Prius Hybrid sales).

        With that said, and setting the Prime aside for a moment, no one sells more vehicles in California than Toyota (no one is even close to Toyota’s ~17% market share – see Q1 report here)…and that is a big problem for the company, and why Toyota has been one of the least anxious to promote/get behind BEVs.

        While those ~2,500 RAV EV sales had some compliance value a few years ago, and the ~1,896 Mirais sold through July 2017, in 2018 the OEM needs 2% of sales in California to be offset with ZEV credits, 4% in 2019, 6% in 2020, 8% in 2021. (A 200 mile UDDS EV gets 4 credits, a FCEV 9)

        While you don’t currently “see” any new plug-ins from Toyota outside of the Prime, Toyota has to have a competitive BEV waiting in the wings to be announced/released imminently.

        If you “do the math”, Toyota has to sell a minimum of around ~65,000 fully electric vehicles in ARB states alone through 2021, then all the other states on top…so conservatively that’s about 120,000 sales of a vehicle(s) that has yet to be shown off. There is no way to avoid building these for Toyota…there is no “escape route” post 2018.

        That is unless, you believe Toyota can sell ~30,000 Mirais over the next 4 years/~625 a month (I believe their uber-Lexus/FCEV plant is tooled for no more than about 3,500-4000 units globally per annum). Currently, Toyota gets a pile of R&D cash in Japan for the Mirai…so it builds them there, then ships them (ironically) to California/ARB states to net ZEV credits to satisfy today’s requirements.

        However its just a band-aid, as the Japan FC dev money doesn’t last forever, and they are still net-losing on the Mirai monetarily. But more importantly is the “mindset” lost for Toyota with their California market, which I doubt think they accounted for – just the short-term compliance; which they are scrambling to fix now (see unique naming/shell of the plug-in Prisu Prime over the standard hybrid)

        Note the 20% to 17% share drop in California for Toyota over the past ~3 years…a huge bulk of which is lost in the state straight to competitor’s plug-ins. California has always been very fuel efficient/green concerned, which was Toyota’s strength 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago and gave them a huge advantage…but plug-ins are the “new green”, and the California market has a high demand for them (up to 5% of total sales by year’s end).

        Basically, the Mirai filled the gap after the RAV4 EV, but the introduction of that FCV delayed the necessity of Toyota’s BEVs into CARB’s “phase 2” starting in 2018, so they are starting a year behind…but (again, ironically), they require the BEV/plug-ins the most – both from a compliance standpoint, and from an ongoing business/growth standpoint.

        So, now at every autoshow we basically ask the same question, “will this be the show that Toyota plays its BEV hand?” Clocks ticking.

        1. Alan says:

          Perhaps Toyota have a BEV C-HR in the wings !

          1. theflew says:

            I think Tesla has blinded us to what large manufactures are capable of. Even at Tesla’s talked about 500k vehicles a year that’s still 1/20th of GM’s output. Once the big guys decide to go all in it’s going to be a tidal wave. There’s nothing really stopping them outside of what the market appears to want and battery supply. So the thing to watch is LG Chem and Samsung building capacity along with the Chinese battery suppliers.

            1. Alan says:

              I have been saying this for a while now, the real game hasn’t even begun yet.

              Toyota is a monster with bucket loads of cash, if they really do have a solid state battery under wraps (which is entirely possible) they will make a really big splash.

              1. F150 Brian says:


                Remember that the big global manufacturers have a vehicle pipeline that is making huge money for them ($billions$). Their respective board of directors will have to be convinced that they EVs will be hugely profitable too before there is a big shift in investment. They are playing with low volume products so they build their knowledge/experience without a risk to their bottom line. Next comes the supplier contracts. They are no doubt lining them up and helping them prepare for a cost effective launch. Probably the limiting factor are the batteries and they are just waiting for their suppliers to give the thumbs up on volume/price.

                There will be a tipping point and it will shift quickly.

                But there is currently *very* little incentive for them to try to pull that point sooner.

                1. Alan says:

                  Exactly !

                  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it will be their motto and until their hand is literally forced, why should they is what they will be thinking.

                  1. Lou Grinzo says:

                    But keep in mind something the car makers are VERY aware of: The long lead time between the CEO saying, “We need to do this!” and “this” resulting in a car you and I can buy.

                    This is why I keep saying that I would bet anything that a few of the “conspicuous by their absence” car companies are developing 40 to 60 mile PHEVs and/or BEVs, and are just waiting for battery prices to hit a magic number and customer acceptance to reach a critical level, which probably varies a bit from company to company.

                    If I were to wake up tomorrow as the CEO of one of these companies, you can bet the first question I’d ask my development teams would be: Someone makes a killer battery or supercap breakthrough, and we’re looking at $50/kWh. How long before we can put a competitive vehicle that leverages that into showrooms?

            2. L'amata says:

              For ONE thing among other things will be that they have “no” charging stations and they Lack the ability to produce enough Batteries as needed , this will stop them dead on their tracks. They’ll need 7 to 10 yrs to catch up..

              1. theflew says:

                Tesla built a battery factory in less than two years in the desert with limited cash. Imagine companies like LG or Samsung that already have footprints and cash. LG expanded they battery factory in Holland, MI by 100k sq. ft in 6 months. You can’t use Tesla’s time scale with larger manufactures. GM, Toyota, etc. know how to design and built cars. You would have to be crazy to think they don’t have designs on the drawing board.

              2. JeremyK says:

                It only takes two years to build a battery factory from scratch. Tesla/Panasonic have shown us that.

                50% of households can charge in their own garage or work and own more than one vehicle. Even if those households only replace one ICE vehicle with an EV, that’s a significant number of vehicles and this is possible, without a nationwide infrastructure.

                The remaining infrastructure that will make long distance travel more convenient will likely be built out by 3rd party companies once EVs reach a slightly more significant portion of market share.

        2. Warren says:

          GM is at ~146,436, Tesla ~132,739, Nissan ~112,128, Ford ~76,091 Toyota ~58,606

          Unless they implode, Tesla will swamp everybody by this time next year.

          1. Warren says:

            Oops! I forgot the Ford Transit Connects.

            Ford ~76,641

            1. L'amata says:

              In my view, these guys are all moving Too slow towards electrification, hoping it will go away, and if they were to go at it full force & build cars that people want, they will never have a Battery Supply available in time as they build them. Unless they sell them as, BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED>>>l m a o ……

              1. Warren says:

                What people want are 300+ mile range electric SUVs that sell for $35K. Not happening in this universe…ever.

                1. Lou Grinzo says:

                  Ever? $35k buys a pretty decent SUV today, like a Rogue SL with some extra options. (My wife’s was $33k in late 2015.) Knock out some of the options/price, and replace that whole ICE power train with a battery pack and electric motor at even a slight price increase — something I expect will be possible in not much longer — and you’re there.

                  1. Warren says:

                    People are already whining that a 100 kWh Tesla SUV isn’t good enough to haul their boat, or horse trailer, or whatever at 80 mph for hundreds of miles. We are living in a fantasy world that won’t exist in 50 years. People will be walking…if they can stand the heat!

        3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Hey Jay, appreciate your thoughtful comments as always.

          However, I respectfully disagree about Toyota’s future. Claiming that Toyota “must have” a well-developed BEV project just waiting in the wings is basing a guess about future developments on hopes, not facts.

          Look at the example of Blackberry, and its tepid response to the iPhone. I see Toyota as following the same path to ruin as Blackberry, with respect to Toyota’s tepid responses to Tesla’s cars.

          Of course, I could be wrong. One thing is certain: The next four years of the EV revolution are going to be a lot more interesting than the last four!

          1. Jay Cole says:

            Like I was mentioning, it is one of the most interesting ‘not talked about’ things in the business today.When it comes to Toyota and BEVs in the US, its really a A or B choice:

            A) they have one (or several) tucked away and ready to go, or near-ready to go inside of ~16 months.
            B) they plan on no longer selling cars in California

            There isn’t any other options (well, technically they could start sell-leasing 500-600 Mirais a month – which they don’t have near the capacity for), which is why all OEMs really dislike CARB and its 2018+ regs (outside of Tesla). Given Toyota is over 17% market share this year (as much as 20% over the past 2-3 years), I think “A” is more likely.

            Again, what is fascinating (at least to us) is lack of any solid information/foreshadowing on a BEV program by Toyota, or by other “sources”, although Toyota has always been historically very skilled at keeping its horses in the barn until they are ready.

            /time will tell

      2. Paul Smith says:

        GM may be able to build the Bolt, but the problem fro them is selling them.

  2. Alan says:

    Bloomberg with it’s usual utter tosh, these guys couldn’t forecast their way out of a wet paper bag !

    Nissan will be No2 by some margin on a cumulative basis.

    1. ffbj says:

      That’s Funny!

  3. trackdaze says:

    Have i got this right. Forecasting 250k culmulative for tesla next yearFrom about 150k this year? ;

    So thats 45k for Model S&X and 55k for M3? Hmmm.

  4. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    Future news flash….

    “VW caught with “reduce device” in deployed EVSE’s where the code enumerates vehicle manufacturer and if it’s “VW” the EVSE will charge at 2.8KW faster and all others 2.8KW slower.”

  5. unlucky says:

    In the US for EVs? I’d have Tesla then GM.

    I say that because they are #1 and #2 so far this year.

    Of course we’ll have to see what happens when Nissan announces their new LEAF next month.

    Honestly, the #2 EV maker in the US will likely be determined by whichever company becomes the second (behind Tesla) to offer not just one but two EVs at the same time.

    As to plug-ins in the US, I don’t really get the choice of VW. They currently sell, what, one? One configuration of the Audi A3? The leader in plug-in sales will likely be Tesla and second will be GM. The Germans are making a lot of different plug-ins, as they are doing in Europe. And Toyota has the Prius Prime selling a lot of vehicles. But GM has both the Bolt and Volt and I’d like to think they’re actually going to announce the plug-in Equinox soon. So they’re a strong contender for 2nd place.

  6. speculawyer says:

    VW? LOL!

    What are people going to buy? The eGolf that is a LEAF clone 5 years too late? The vapor minibus that doesn’t ship until 2021?


    1. jpo234 says:

      That’s probably VW Group,e.g including Audi and Porsche. That means before 2021 Audi etron, Audi etron sportsback, Porsche Mission E, the Mission E based CUV, the VW I.D and probably the odd unannounced vehicle.

  7. ModernMarvelFan says:

    “If we are talking about total plug-in sales, we’d project Tesla (1), Nissan (2), Toyota and General Motors to all be in front of VW in 2021.”

    Why Nissan?

    If we are talking about PEV which includes both PHEV and BEV, then how can the LEAF 2.0 beat the combination of Volt and Bolt in the US?

    I mean, do you know something that we don’t that somehow shows the LEAF 2.0 is so desirable that it will sell like hot cakes in the next 3 years?

    Also, this is assuming what GM hint at in terms of Voltec PHEV Crossover and Buick version of the Bolt aren’t selling well.

    I would have put Tesla at #1, GM at #2, Nissan at #3. Toyota at #4 and VW at #5. That is only because Toyota has “no desire” to sell more PEVs. Prime will sell “as needed” to meet Toyota’s quota. Once they lose the federal incentives, it will be even slower sellers. But it is true that most of the Prime are “recycled” current Prius buyers. That is a lot of potential customers to recycle from.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      MMF said:

      Why Nissan?

      If we are talking about PEV which includes both PHEV and BEV, then how can the LEAF 2.0 beat the combination of Volt and Bolt in the US?

      I mean, do you know something that we don’t that somehow shows the LEAF 2.0 is so desirable that it will sell like hot cakes in the next 3 years?

      It is hard to say what LEAF 2.0 will sell like, I think most assume it will be competing with the Prime for the #2 best seller in 2018 (behind the Model 3)…but still below what the GM Volt/Bolt duo sell combined.

      However, the prediction is based on Nissan being on record to also bring an all-electric SUV and sedan to market over the next two years (both with ~200 miles EPA range). I think if GM was on record with something as definitive, then we’d put GM in the #2 slot behind Tesla.

      Again, 2017 is really an anomaly year, where we are still seeing a lot of selling out the old, but with the new just waiting in the wings to displace them (both about to go on sale, and about to be announced to go on sale), thanks to step-change in ARB regs.

      Like with Toyota in California, there is a lot of obvious holes we are now waiting to see the pegs for.

  8. Spoonman. says:

    VW isn’t even getting their dealers ready for electric by offering CPO e-Golfs across the country.

    Even FCA has dealers all over the place selling used 500es.

  9. Spider-Dan says:

    I love how in these predictions, VW, Nissan, etc. always have amazing new vehicles on the horizon that are going to vault them past GM. Meanwhile, GM is done making new EVs and won’t make anything else for the foreseeable future.

    The Prius Prime would have been a great competitor to the Gen1 Volt, but the Gen2 Volt already exists. The Leaf 2.0 would have been a revolutionary BEV, but the Bolt already exists. Why does anyone believe that these other companies are magically going to leapfrog GM?

  10. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    I think it’s pretty pointless to try to predict what will change over the next four years during a disruptive tech revolution.

    Four years ago, in 2013, could anyone have predicted where we are today? Nobody would have predicted the “dirty diesel” scandal and its fallout. Nobody would have predicted that someone who strongly and actively opposes everything the EPA stands for would be appointed to head (and dismantle) the EPA!

    We might have predicted that China would move to strongly subsidize EV sales, but nobody could have predicted exactly what form that subsidy would take, or how that would affect sales of foreign cars in the Chinese market. In 2013, many or perhaps most financial analysts were still saying Tesla probably would not be around for long, and nobody but the heaviest Kool-Aid drinking Tesla cheerleaders were suggesting Tesla might grow to be the world’s biggest auto maker!

    I doubt any predictions we make today about 2021 will be any more accurate than 2013 predictions about 2017.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “The prediction BNEF settled on that Volkswagen could climb to the No. 2 spot by 2021 was the ‘the most contentious’ of the research group’s projections, McKerracher said.”

    If the report is true that VW has placed an order with LG Chem for EV batteries, an order which dwarfs GM’s combined orders for the Bolt EV and the Volt, then it’s not only possible that VW will outstrip GM’s offerings, it’s practically guaranteed.

    “If we are talking about total plug-in sales, we’d project Tesla (1), Nissan (2), Toyota and General Motors to all be in front of VW in 2021.”

    Toyota? “Fool cell” promoting, BEV-hating Toyota? Are you joking? No way.

  12. Alex a says:

    This assumes that Tesla won’t have run out of money by then. The junk bond issuing company will do well to survive into 2019.

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