U.S. Battery-Electric / PHEV Sales Comparison For 2018

JAN 25 2019 BY MARK KANE 20

In 2018 about two-thirds of plug-in car sales in the U.S. were BEVs

Year 2018 brings significant growth of plug-in electric car sales in the U.S. – by 80.8% year-over-year, to a record 361,307. At the same time, the usually relatively small difference between all-electric models (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid models (PHEV) extended to over 100,000 in favor of BEVs.

Here we take a look at how both categories progress, especially now that both note all-time records.

The split between PHEVs and BEVs requires some assumptions, because vehicle classification is not digital and we don’t have all the data. In this report we assume to add all plug-ins without internal combustion engine to BEVs, and all with internal combustion engine (in any configuration) to PHEVs. Because the BMW i3 comes in two versions (with or without ICE – REx) and we don’t know exact numbers, we assumed 50% for BEVs and 50% for PHEVs. We believe that i3 sales were at least around 50/50 in the first few years, and most recently longer-range BEV i3 takes probably two-thirds of sales. Some of the results for the other models are also estimated – see our monthly plug-in sales scorecard for data.

U.S. All-Electric Car Sales – December 2018

All-electric car sales, since the ramp-up of Tesla Model 3, is setting record after record. In December, it was close to 37,000 and 74% of the overall plug-in car sales.

In 2018, some 235,758 BEVs were sold, which is 65% of all plug-ins at a growth rate of 128%.

U.S. Plug-In Hybrid Car Sales – December 2018

The plug-in hybrids didn’t have such a boost, but a growing number of models enabled the segment to expand by 30% to 125,550 in 2018 at close to 35% share.

November and December were also the two best months ever with about 13,000 sales each.


And now the comparison, which makes us wonder how much the BEV advantage will increase in 2019 with eventually the successful launch of new models.

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20 Comments on "U.S. Battery-Electric / PHEV Sales Comparison For 2018"

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Thanks for breaking that out. What is interesting is BEV growth hasn’t seemed to slow down PHEV growth at all. PHEVs are still slowly increasing even the second half this year at a similar rate as they have been. This is good, more efficient vehicles is better, even if they burn some gas.

What would be interesting to see is add in the hybrid market to this (maybe just call it alternative and hybrid fuel sales). I know BEV purists don’t like hybrids, but the better hybrids (Parallel/Series) can really reach very high efficiency levels and cut gas usage vs traditional ICE. If all the increase BEV sales are coming from Prius it really isn’t helping fleet fuel economy, but my hunch with Tesla is most are coming from people buying normal cars.

I think ICE owners who want to go full EV do not want to compromise on performance and looks. Biggest selling point for people driving ICE in going full EV is that performance has to be better than ICE. Even if you don’t care about going green, you’ll convert those if you can sell them on performance and looks. Only brand that will meet that requirement is Tesla. Big Auto is failing big time when it comes to building a good looking, very well performing EV and all cars on the market still have the compliance car stink to it.

Funny how Tesla is selling a lot of cars while people are buying a lot of SUVs

Tesla’s car sales are #5 on the CAR LIST but doesn’t even make top 10 in the overall list if we include SUV and pickup trucks.

The SUV sales are blowing the car sales out of top 10.

Even Model X is outselling Model S.

Even if people convert from hybrids, it is still a plus. I see plugins hybrids as a gateway drug to BEVs. Once people start getting more familiar with how electric works, they are more confident in going full electric.

But I wish the PHEVs would at least offer a minimum of an average commute : /

This just confirms what I have been suspecting for a while: PHEV sales and BEV sales are mostly orthogonal, and thus tracking them separately makes much more sense than tracking the sum of these two distinct segments.

Model 3 is the big heavy guy in the rowboat. Need some more big heavy guys/girls to level the boat. Who will be the next manufacturer to make a car with the impact of the model 3? Tesla with Model Y? BMW? VW?

I am hoping Hyundai and Kia were going to step up in 2019 but looks like they will not make or sell their 60+ kwh EV’s at volume. Maybe Nissan will have a resurgence but the Leaf still has the compliance stink to it. Only thing I see is the Standard Battery Model 3 and Model Y.

Model Y or any other major entry into the compact CUV market with more than 250 miles of range.

If not, there is not enough buyers for another sedan…

I think VW might be the next big entry, if they manage to bring a MEB-based CUV in volume to the US before the Model Y… Other than that, it’s Model Y for sure. Later we should see GM etc. join the party — but at that point, I suspect the market will be diverse enough for no single model to stand out that much…

Hydrogen fuel cell electric cars may be the future. Currently lack fuel station infrastructure but could be created on current gas station sites. Water is only waste product and hydrogen most common element in the universe.

You will probably get a lot of down votes for your opinion on this site. Currently, most hydrogen is made from splitting methane (natural gas). But, if they can develop a way to make hydrogen, store it and distribute it efficiently, it may have a future. For now, it is more expensive than petrol and much more wasteful of energy than battery EV’s.

What’s better than generating your own fuel and charging at home?

And where do you get the “most common element in the universe” in its useful form of H2? (you have to expend energy to put H2 in its useful form, and current methods are not good tradeoffs, the cheapest way of methane reformation results in CO2 and H2 and heat as an output.)

Also, what happens to H2 gas that is leaked into the atmosphere? (it quickly escapes to space due to its low mass and high velocity)

You need 55kw to produce the hydrogen needed to go 60 miles compare to 15kw in a BEV.
The only people cheering for hydrogen are uninformed.

There are always conversion losses and hydrogen adds one more conversion step, even if that step happens outside the car.
Better to just put the electricity in a BEV.

Thanks for this analysis. I also was pleased to see the slow and steady increase in Plug-In Hybrids. I think they’re a great solution for people who live in multi-family housing — for the foreseeable future, BEV’s really only make sense for homeowners or those who have assured access to charging (generally at work). I live in Los Angeles, and it would be an extreme challenge to have a BEV without charging at home.

It is all Model 3. Take that out, the split is about even.

BEVs need to have better standardized infrastructure before they’ll be able to travel substantial distances with. PHEVs make better sense to me until, if ever, that happens

Watershed event of many hydraulic powered applications being replaced by simpler, more powerful electrical driven architecture.