Top 5 Selling Plug-In Electric Cars: U.S. October 2018 Edition


And the winner is…

Here at InsideEVs, we’ve come to realize that not everyone shares our passion for an overload of sales figures, like you’ll see in our monthly report card and scorecard.

Admittedly, both can be a bit overwhelming from a numbers overload perspective.

Sales Overload Here – 2018 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Report Card

So, in addition to presenting sales in our typical fashion, we’ll assemble this monthly Top 5 list, which highlights the five best selling plug-in electric cars in the U.S. for any given month.

More List Type Posts Here

For this list, we’re focused on the Top 5 best-selling plug-in electric cars in the U.S. for October 2018.

Here goes…

5. Chevy Volt

The Volt sold an estimated 1,475 units in the U.S. in October 2018, landing it solidly in fifth place for the month. YTD, Volt sales stand at an estimated 14,718 units, which places it in 5th from the YTD perspective.

4. Honda Clarity PHEV

Our tally shows Honda Clarity PHEV sales hit an estimated 1,935 units in October 2018, putting it in fourth place for the month. The YTD tally stands at an estimated 13,567 units, which places it in seventh in YTD sales.

3. Toyota Prius Prime

For October 2018, Toyota Prius Prime sales checked in at a healthy 2,001 units. YTD sales for the Prius Prime now stand at 22,524 units, good for second place.

2. Chevrolet Bolt

Chevy Bolt sales checked in at an estimated 2,075 units in the U.S. in October 2018. That brings the Bolt’s YTD total to 13,882 units, placing it in 6th overall for YTD sales too.

Blue Tesla Model 3

1.Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 had another strong month in October 2018 by selling a whopping, estimated 17,750 units. The Model 3 had a commanding sales lead over every other plug-in vehicle in October. Even more impressive is that the Model 3 is easily number 1 in YTD figures too at 95,882 units, which puts it so far in the lead that it can’t be caught.


Variety is the spice of life. Automotive sales should be no exception.

If you’re seeking a simple Top 5 sales list, you’ve found it here. If you’re after a super detailed write up with more numbers/figures than you could ever imagine, well that’s right here in our scorecard.

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92 Comments on "Top 5 Selling Plug-In Electric Cars: U.S. October 2018 Edition"

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Wait a second. If the Bolt was in fifth place why did the Volt get a place instead?

Because the Bolt wasn’t in fifth.

Picky, picky.

The Bolt is in 5th place for the year, but this month the Volt slightly outsold the Bolt.


Now for October the Bolt outsold the Volt (2071 vs 1475).

Good to see that GM managed to get in the USA Top 5.

I don’t really get what’s going on there. It’s almost more like they managed to avoid the top 4.

The Bolt is a not-bad long range EV that costs less than $30k after incentives right? Shouldn’t it be #1?

Could be if they built more.

In the top 5? Probably. #1? Very, very unlikely.

And gave it ACC…and 1/2 inch more width and padding in the seats.

Impressive that all three current Tesla production EVs place in the Top 5… will be interesting to see if the upcoming Model Y will make Tesla 4 of 5.

The Above article photo of the Model X with Jeremy Clarkson… the way he is looking at the Model X… his being conflicted with feelings of both contempt and admiration for the car… priceless.

Oddly enough I experience similar feelings when I look at Jeremy Clarkson, but only one of the ones you mentioned, and it’s not admiration.

LOL! Cruel… but fair.

AKA … Liar Scum Bag..

Hybrids dont count.

Maybe not, but plug-in hybrids do. Especially until the supply of batteries is adequate for more full BEV’s. Also depends on the user. Even a car like my Volvo XC60 rated at only 17mi covers 90% of my day to day driving on pure electricity. And now that we have a Bolt as a 2nd car, the only time we’ll use gas is on road trips.

2,100 miles with a little over 1/3 of the tank left in my Prius. Commutes are all 100% electric on all but the coldest days of winter in Minnesota. That approach (plug-in hybrid with a small’ish pack) is undeniably the path to electrification for the masses.

Hi John
Congratulations on doing 2,100 miles with most of them with electric.
Just wondering what happens to the condition of gas.
1 of my colleague who has Volt-1 said that gas will be spoiled if you use it for too long a time and the car will force the driver to switch to gas mode and consume all the gas. Is there any such thing in Prius plugin.

This problem is avoided by adding fuel stabilizer to the tank – available at most automotive supply stores. In the Prius Prime, if you haven’t burned gasoline after a certain number of months, the car automatically starts to burn gasoline, in order to help prevent this issue.

“Undeniably”. Right.

“That approach (plug-in hybrid with a small’ish pack) is undeniably the path to electrification for the masses.”

Yeah, that’s why the Prius Prime is outselling BEVs like the Tesla Model 3 and (in China) the Chery eQ.

Oh, wait… 🙄

Don’t count towards what?

Also, do you mean to say “PHEVs don’t count”?

Your stupid comment don’t count either except towards stupidity…

No, _you_ don’t count.

“Variety is the spice of life. Automotive sales should be no exception.”

Yes, this^^

And even more important, the cars that are the most popular might not be the best choice for YOUR personal needs, because with plug-ins, your personal driving habits need to match the EV you buy. Buy what works, not what is popular.

With that said, the top 5 cars all have one thing in common. They all do a very good job at eliminating the need to worry so much about charging for many people.

Well said!

The big problem with two of those “Plug in Electric” cars is that they have a stinking gas burner in them.
Is there enough BEV’s to start doing a real electric car sales chart yet?

The EV revolution needs all kinds of EVs. Not just BEVs. Let us please not be so narrow-minded.

Those who live in a residence without off-street parking probably will have no place they can regularly charge a BEV. And most of those whose lifestyle demands they frequently take long road trips, won’t be willing to spend 30-45 minutes recharging for every ~150 miles they drive.

Should we deprive those people of the ability to participate in the EV revolution?

There will come a day when a BEV should suit the life style of more than 95% of people living in first world countries. Until that day arrives, PHEVs should be an important part of the EV revolution.

If someone can’t arrange charging near their home, a PHEV will be even less useful than a BEV with decent range.

(As for frequent road trips, this surely can be a problem for BEVs; but usually only if someone can’t afford a Tesla, or does very few or short rest stops…)

Why? EV production will be battery constrained for 5-10 years, and the battery capacity of a long-range BEV is enough for 3-4 Volts. If a person’s driving profile is such that they can do 80%-90% of driving miles on electric in a Volt (and that’s true for the vast majority of the population), why not do this to get people used to EVs, for 1-2 generations of cars, until the production capacity of batteries and prices catch up?

You missed the context. If you can’t regularly charge near your home (or workplace), a PHEV is pretty much useless.

(A BEV is still inconvenient of course if you need to go somewhere else to charge it every couple of days — but at least it’s not *entirely* useless…)

“If someone can’t arrange charging near their home, a PHEV will be even less useful than a BEV with decent range.”

Of course not. They can refill at any gas station if they are in a hurry, and charge up at a public EV charger when they have time.

A PHEV only makes sense if you charge it *regularly*. Nobody in their right might would make a trip to a charger every day.

PHEVs are great but you should break that list into PHEV and BEV:

March Top 5 PHEV:
1 Prius Prime 2,922
2 Chevy Volt 1,782
3 Honda Clarity 1,061
4 Ford Fusion Energy 782

March Top 5 BEV:
1 Tesla Model 3 3,820
2 Tesla Model S 3,375
3 Tesla Model X 2,825
4 Chevy Bolt 1,1774
5 Nissan Leaf 1,500

oops. Bolt 1,774.

Prius Prime only had 2,213 sales.

This was an old comment…

October the 2075 for Bolt, more than the S and X, nice to see options move up.

nice. easy to ready.

You seem to have outdated numbers.

No, the comment is outdated.

Prius does not count. Those prius buyers are most likely previous owners that do not understand how these cars are designed. Take the gas engine out of the prius no movement. Take the gas engine out of the Volt you get a total EV. I think in the near future there will total electric Volts. As for Tesla filling their model 3 orders will keep them above all other EV makers. Will be interesting when Tesla does not have a big waiting list

Poorly informed or intentional greenwash? That’s the question to ask when reading a post which spreads such false information.

The plug-in model of Prius is just like Volt, an EV with a gas-engine available for when the plug-supplied electricity is depleted. The notable differences are that Volt offers a larger capacity battery and more power motor while Prius delivers both more efficient EV & HV drives and more efficient electric-heating.

“The plug-in model of Prius is just like Volt…”

Well, they’re both PHEVs. But claiming the Prius Prime is “just like a Volt” is like claiming a Yugo is just like a Rolls-Royce. Well, they both are 4-wheeled automobiles…

The Prius Prime design has a Catastrophic flaw. It in no way recharges the EV range battery after depletion. You could be descending from Mount Everest and it will pick up zero charge.

This is not how my Prius Prime behaved last month! I went from a depleted battery (I didn’t find any convenient chargers while driving across NM and AZ) to a full battery while driving around parts of Utah.

If you think the Volt would work just as well with the gas engine removed, then you know very little about EV engineering. Please make an effort to educate yourself on the subject before commenting on it again.

The EV revolution needs more cars, not fewer ones. EV advocates need to be inclusive, not exclusive.

This mad effort by BEV “purists” to exclude every type of EV except BEVs from consideration, is both foolish and counter-productive.

I agree. There are some really weird attitudes expressed here that hurt the cause of electrified transportation rather than helping it.

I also strongly agree with P-P

The Prius Prime releases less CO2 emissions than Volt for most Americans. For US as a whole, EPA estimates 15% less than the Volt and 6% more than TM3 Long Range.

Hmm… Internet karma is difficult to understand.

Well, the good thing about internet is that anything can be fact checked and proven easily…

The EPA estimates are probably based on unrealistic assumptions. Real-world data shows that a few years back, Volt (Gen1 presumably?) had a much higher percentage of electric driving than Prius Plug-in (70% vs something like 45%) — and it’s likely similar for current Volt vs. Prius Prime.

As for Model 3, it depends a lot on circumstances. If there is more highway driving, the Model 3 will do a lot better than any PHEV. If it charges more on renewables, it will do much better. (Even when using grid electricity in places where the grid has fairly low renewable penetration, smart charging will prefer periods when renewable supply is above average…)

And of course a BEV always has zero tailpipe emissions.

Only for drivers who drive More than the Volt Electric range. Those would be on the Tail End of the bell curve.

EPA estimate is based on a certain usage model and emission from electricity. For Volt, it assumes 76.1% electricity usage where the Prime is assumed to be 52.9%. So, what is the mileage needed to be driven in order for a Volt owner to have a 76.1% electric miles vs. a Prime with 52.9%?

A car with 25 miles AER with 52.9% electric is somehow generating a 76.1% with a car that has 53 miles AER.

So, obviously the so called assumption is impacting the numbers.

Using my personal zip code and usage pattern of 46 miles of daily commute and occasionally long trips, and CA grid, the Volt beats the pants off Prime in emission.

for my round trip commute of 44 miles, my Volt burns ZERO gas. A Prius Prime would be polluting the air by burning gas.

Should really break this out as top 5 PHEV and top 5 BEV.

August Top 5 PHEV:
1 Prius Prime 2,071
2 Chevy Volt 1,825
3 Honda Clarity 1,425
4 BMW 530e 749
5 Chrysler Pacifica 654

August Top 5 BEV:
1 Tesla Model 3 17,800
2 Tesla Model X 2,750
3 Tesla Model S 2,625
4 Nissan Leaf 1,350
5 Chevy Bolt 1,225

The 530e beat out the BMW i3 REX?

The top 3 has to really eat at a few of the haters who camp here regularly.

Yes, and it shows.

The Model X is outselling the Model S? Wow. Kinda surprised by that. Then again, perhaps the Model 3 cannibalized a fair number of Model S sales.

In a SUV-loving market, that doesn’t seem terribly surprising…

I cant wait to see what the Y sales are in its 3rd or 4th full quarter of sales.

It’s remarkable that the Top 3 best-selling EV’s are also the 3 most expensive EV’s on the US market.

Compare this to the situation in the ICE car + SUV/CUV market, where the Top 3 sellers are the modestly priced RAV4, CRV and Camry.

Right. InsideEVs are missing probably the more important list even though it is trivial to infer at the moment: top 5 by gross value.

I would third the suggestion to make this a top five list of PHEVs and top five BEVs.

I would also like to see a simple line graph included showing monthly total BEVs and monthly total PHEVs. I think will show the shift from PHEVs which is really just a transition step to BEVs happening much faster than many would have predicted just a few years ago.

I expect to see the number of PHEVs begin to decline as good BEV options become more available. BMW dropping the Rex version of the i3 is the first step in this direction.

They are dropping it some markets (EU primarily) and not others. In the U.S. and Japan it will still be offered.

While long-term, PHEV sales will increasingly be eaten by BEVs, near-term the number of PHEVs should continue to rise…

Curiously, InsideEVs does publish PHEV vs. BEV graphs for BYD sales numbers, but not for anything else IIRC…

Sick that model 3 in September beat what the number two plug in, the Prius, has gathered over the entire year.

I have a passion for sales figures overload! Keep them coming.

The most interesting thing about the top 5 is that they are all high range vehicles. Range = sales. Automakers need to stop making vehicles with less than a 40 kwh battery.

I cannot afford a bigger than 40kw battery.

This is me. With everything except maintenance and recharging costs counted, the TCO on my 2018 Leaf S is going to be ~$15,000.

That’s still $200/mo over 7 years. I can afford that but really don’t want to pay any more for a car whose main job is to just get me to & from work every day.

40 kWh? That seems way beyond reasonable for a PHEV…

I’m driving the BMW i3 REX, 2017. It has 120 miles of real range, and completely meets my driving needs. Just yesterday I drove 40 miles, for the day. It had sufficient buffer for the task, and then I drive home and plugged in.

Buyer’s really need to calculate their daily driving needs.
Whereas with a gas car, you need to calculate your weekly driving needs, because you don’t want to have to stop at a gas station more than once a week.

“And for those wondering, September 2018 marked a record for U.S. sales of plug-in electric cars with an estimated grand total of 36,380 sold.”

44,589 is the September 2018 total as per the dashboard and not 36,380. Please correct it.

Yes what a wonderful month with the total sales topping 40,000. I thought sales will be slightly below 40,000 marking the 2nd month after August with the 30,000 – 40,000 sales range, but it exceeded that.

While many month’s saw sales between 20,000 – 30,000 sales, August 2018 was the only month with 30,000 – 40,000 sales.

Will October see another 40,000 – 50,000 sales range or fall below 40,000 or go above 50,000. Let’s not be greedy. We will wait.

Beyond 50,000 seems very unlikely. Since it’s not an end-of-quarter month, October usually sees less sales than September. If Model 3 sales see another big jump, that *might* break the trend; but it doesn’t seem too likely — and even then, it would be a minor increase at best…

Where did the 36,380 number come from? I read somewhere that its around 44,589 for September. I can’t remember the site of the top of my head…

The US figure in the table is 44,589. The 36k figure is from August.

Correct. Thank you. Fixed.

Breaking out by PHEV & BEV:

September Top 5 PHEV:
1 Prius Prime 2,213
2 Chevy Volt 2,129
3 Honda Clarity 2,028
4 BMW 530e 756
5 Chrysler Pacifica 637

September Top 5 BEV:
1 Tesla Model 3 22,250
2 Tesla Model X 3,975
3 Tesla Model S 3,750
4 Nissan Leaf 1,563
5 Chevy Bolt 1,549

If the real reason of electrification of vehicles is to cut out the use of fossil fuels then the true answer is make a vehicle for the masses. The simplest way is to reduce all the extras to only the necessary basics and go back to DRIVING like the majority of us has become accustomed to. Think like the “Old days” when the VW Beattle was made for the masses.
I don’t mean stripped of things like pwr brakes, windows and mirrors etc. But forget about navigation and such.
Mankind is on the way to self destruction with his non active life – now the thoughts are of relaxing while being driven by robotics – I can see the already overweight population getting even FATTER!. Wake up, everybody!

That is the reason why I find the movie Wall E scarier then the Terminator.
It’s the reality that the humans made themselves useless with no meaning in life.

What I don’t like about how they are making cars more complex is I’ve spent more money fixing all these sensors and gizmos then any engine trouble.

The only response to this is most buyers will spring for a new car for the new luxury options, like automatic cruise control, automatic collision prevention and automatic parallel parking.

I just used the i3’s auto parking yesterday, and it parks the car faster than I do.

But, yes, warranties should be longer.

But a VW Beatle had a dirt cheap air cooled engine. You could build a cheep car around that. EVs have expensive battery packs, building a cheep car around that gets you an expensive car that’s cheaply built. Who is going to buy that ? Once the price of battery packs drop to the price of an air cooled engine someone will wrap a cheep car around it. I guess another decade.

You can really see sales strategy here: The Honda Edsel and the Toyota Prime Edsel say it all.

Only If Tesla would have split model 3 into 5 different models, say 3A,3B,3C,3D,3F then it can take all the top 5.

Splitting it out between PHEV and BEV:

October Top 5 PHEV:
1 Prius Prime 2,001
2 Honda Clarity 1,935
3 Chevy Volt 1,475
4 BMW 530e 733
5 Chrysler Pacifica 623

October Top 5 BEV:
1 Tesla Model 3 17,750
2 Chevy Bolt 2,075
3 Tesla Model S 1,350
4 Nissan Leaf 1,234
5 Tesla Model X 1,225

Kudos to the Honda Clarity PHEV for making it into the Top 5, even if it’s only for one month! And a raspberry to those who were dismissing the car as having sales too low to matter.
😛 😛 😛

Also, not that surprising to see the Tesla Model S and Model X drop out of the Top 5 for the month. Remember, this is only U.S. sales; if it was international sales, we should see the Models S and X show less month-to-month variation.

Good job on the Model 3, Tesla.

No official update for November?

Plugins overall, Tesla and GM dominated the Top 5.
November Top 5 plugins:
1 Tesla Model 3 18,650
2 Chevy Volt 3,930
3 Tesla Model X 3,200
4 Chevy Bolt 3,025
5 Tesla Model S 2,750

Broken out by BEV vs PHEV:

November Top 5 PHEV:
1 Chevy Volt 3,930
2 Prius Prime 2,312
3 Honda Clarity 1,857
4 Ford Fusion Energi 1,131
5 BMW 530e 1,012

(Even though the Pacifica Hybrid went up to 895 units in November, it was edged out of 5th place by Ford Fusion Energi and BMW 530e).

For BEVs, the Leaf is hanging on to 5th place, while the Model 3 continues to leaf the others in it’s ion trail.
November Top 5 BEV:
1 Tesla Model 3 18,650
2 Tesla Model X 3,200
3 Chevy Bolt 3,025
4 Tesla Model S 2,750
5 Nissan Leaf 1128