US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: December 2018

JAN 24 2019 BY MARK KANE 35

About 1,000 plug-in electric cars were sold every day (on average)

The year 2018 is behind us. It was a great year for plug-in electric car sales in the U.S. and also ended perfectly with an all-time record of about 49,900 sales in December (up 91% year-over-year) at a decent 3% market share.

We can be very happy from the progress, as every single month was better compared to the previous year, the market share is getting noticeable and the perspectives are good. Let’s see how the sales results look on the graphs.

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

Total sales for the year 2018 amounted about 361,307 (estimated exclusively by IEVs), which is 80.8% more than a year ago. The average market share almost doubled to 2.1%.

In the case of models rank, we can just repeat: the Tesla Model 3 totally dominated 2018 sales and was the first electric car to exceed 100,000 sales in a year.

Almost 140,000 sales in U.S. (plus thousands in Canada) makes the Model 3 the best selling car globally. Tesla took three places in the top 4 and wasn’t that far taking the top three.

The short bars for other models raises the question of what the automotive industry will do to compete with Tesla.

Here is the car that turned out to be most popular with about 38.7% share of the total U.S. plug-in electric car market.

Some of our readers were waiting for the updated LOL chart and here it is. The Tesla Model 3 is going up like there is no tomorrow. Probably we are just weeks from seeing Model 3 on top of the cumulative sales chart, despite it being the youngest model in Top 10.

Year 2018 seems to be the most successful in history as the growth returned to a level seen only in the early beginning in 2012 or 2013.

And here we are with more than 1.1 million plug-in electric cars sold since December 2010.

In 2019, we expect more than 500,000 to be added with ease.

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35 Comments on "US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: December 2018"

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Thank you so much for keeping track of all these numbers! Job well done!
The ev sales are increasing exponential, just As Tony Seba predicted 8 years ago.. its fun to watch these old YouTube videos, and the comments he got

Cumulative sales chart is amazing, the Model 3 went from nothing to nearly the highest on the chart in a single year 😉 If they had gotten sales ramped up a month earlier it would have flown past the Volt.

Only thing that will get in the way of growth is limited supply. If you build it, people will buy.

Once the numbers come out for Jan the Model 3 will surpass both the S/X in total sales in the US..

How about making a graph that includes ICE vehicles and EV just for comparison of size of the EV market vehicle sales are.

It is too early for that. The PEV market share for 2018 was just 2.1% up from 1.1% in 2017. In terms of vehicles on the road, plug-ins represent a bit less of 0.5% of all pasengers cars in use (or 1/200).

Even for Norway, the world’s EV adoption leader, the percentages are too small. With a monthly market share of 49.1% (last December) and just abit more of 10% of cars in use being plug-in, the graph as of December 2018 looks like this:

With EV marketshare at its highest of ~3%, it’s pretty easy to imagine what that graph will look like.

But but but… Deloitte says production will outstrip demand at 20% in 2030! /s

Anyone who thinks ICE will be in production at all in 2030 is nuts.

Great job IEV team! Yes that cumulative chart is great. So by that measure, either the Model S or Model 3 is the “most popular” all-electric car in the US, right? That beats out the Leaf, despite that long history. I wonder when that will also apply globally?

And pretty soon Model 3 will be the “most popular” plug-in car in the US. Wow-wee.

Leaf and Model S still have more global cumulative sales than Model 3.

Model 3 should overtake the S in ~May, when each will be around 260K, and overtake the Leaf in December when each will be around 500K.

@ Taylor Marks

“Model 3 should overtake the S in ~May, when each will be around 260”

The Tesla Model S has already reached/crossed the 250,000 global cumulative sales milestone in Q4 2018. And it’s highly likely that the 260,000 mark will be reached/crossed in January 2019. And in May 2019 it could be at the 275,000 mark.

Perhaps it’s likely that the Tesla Model 3 will reach the 275,000 global cumulative sales mark in May 2019. But we shall just have to wait and see how that develops further. And we can be pretty sure that the Tesla Model 3 will have surpassed the Tesla Model S in total global cumulative sales numbers in Q3 2019.

At the end of December, global Model S sales were 263,500, so it will cross 275k in 1Q 2019. Therefore, I think it will take a bit longer for the Model 3 to catch up with the Model S, and a couple of years to pass the Nissan Leaf (+380k) as the best selling electric car in history, this is assuming Model 3 sales continue at its current rate of 150,000 cars per year.

@ Emc2

What are the annual totals of global Tesla Model S sales?

Very nice work, congratulation Mark! Keep up the good work.
Regarding cumulative sales, and especially now that the race for the top is getting close, in addition to the graph shown for the all-time top sellers, it would be nice to have a bar graph similar to the “Top 10 Plug-in Cars (January-December 2018 only), the actual values in the spaghetti graph are difficult to read.
Checking your recent articles, the numbers for the all-time top 3 seem to be:
1. Chevy Volt: 152,144
2. Model S: 144,562
3. Model 3: 141,546
The previous all-time # 2, the Nissan Leaf, was left behind (129,542). Can you confirm these figures. Thx

Those standings will all change dramatically later this year with model 3 still ramping up n taking #1 in sales for years to come, leaf catching up a bit to take #2 n staying there for years, model s plugging along at #3 n of,course the volt staying forever at 170k or so sold easing at #4 for a couple years till the bolt beats it next decade….maybe the Prius prime will get into the mix next decade too if Toyota stops hybrid only Prius production.

I’ll go out on a limb and say we will be just shy of 500k in 2019. My reasons for that are the Model 3 starting to go international, the cancellation of several models (Volt, most Fords), and many new models are not yet available in the US (eTron, Taycan), though some will be later in the year.
I’d love to be wrong, but that is my take as of January.

I am going to be a skeptic and say it’ll be flat this year, mainly because i think the economy will go into recession in the fall. I think market share will go up.

In California, I think the plug-in/EV market share is probably closer to 5%. Bay Area and LA Metro area is probably even higher. If California is a sign of whats to come, EV adoption will be quicker than most experts predict.

For 3Q 2018 the Californian olug-in market share was 7.1%. It surpassed conventional hybrids in 2017:

Thanks EMC2…. that is good stuff. I can almost smell the clean air! This is the kind of data that makes big oil crap in their diapers.

Don’t be so sure this scares them until a Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke aren’t sent to prison. Oil industry executives will continue lying and cheating the taxpayers. The amount of natural gas that is flared off is criminal and it’s permitted by the highest levels in state and federal government.
Scott Pruitt was the worst EPA head American ever had.
Oil companies drilling in the Permian basin should be fined for their flaring violations and pay penalties, interest on penalties and arrest everyone that was involved in the corruption.
I’ve complained previously about flaring and the week penalties.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

The “US Plug-In Car Sales – Market Share” chart would seem to indicate that 3% of all of the new cars sold in 2018 were plug-in vehicles of one sort or another?

Am I reading that correctly?

If so, that’s pretty astounding, I wouldn’t have expected the number to be above 2%, tops.

The market share for the full year was 2.1%

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Ah. Thank you for the clarification!

Only Sept, Nov and Dec cleared 3%. The year’s average was just above 2%

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Very good, thank you for the clarification!

Could we see the same graph without the polluting gasser hybrids. That would be more informative.

Can’t give you the whole chart, but for 2018 : BEV 1.38%, PHEV 0.73% USA market share.

Build it yourself.

Thanks for these wonderful charts. So in the last month, Model-3 overtook Leaf to get the #3 slot. All this in just 18 months for what Nissan took 97 months.
Now only the Volt and Model-S are ahead of Model-3. Yes, 8 more days or 11 days max, we will see the Model-3 sales will be #1 in USA.
I guess it will overtake all other models in Canada in 2019.

BTW, worldwide sales of plugins has crossed 6 million mark, please publish an article on this when you get a chance.

I think it is 5 million. As reported everywhere, 2017 ended with 3 million, and sales in 2018 were around 2 million. Nevertheless, I do too would like an article about global sales, and which models, aside from the Leaf (+380k) are the all-time best selling plug-in cars. Also which countries, aside from China, the U.S, and Norway, are leading sales.

@ Mark Kane

Thanks for all these great charts.

The US cumulative sales chart is just simply the best.

Perhaps if you could find the extra time to produce a GLOBAL cumulative sales chart, then that would be super awesome. Because there we would really see how good Tesla really is.

Thanks anyway.


Jean-François Morissette

So, in last position in this top 10 cumulative, we have the BMW i3. I expect it to be left behind rapidly. Which models are coming to the top 10 next?

The Ford models will drop off quickly as they have already or are being cancelled this year. Volt is cancelled as well, but is much higher up so will take longer to fall off the chart.
Who will replace? Depends on how much love European makers will give the US market. BMW 530 maybe if they keep it up, possibly i-Pace in a few years. Pacifica maybe, only if they keep supporting it.
Once Model Y and it’s various SUV competitors show up, all bets are off.