US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: October 2018

NOV 8 2018 BY MARK KANE 32

No record this time, but growth still is tremendous.

October was a good month for plug-in car sales in the U.S. as according to our own estimations, some 34,094 passenger cars were sold, which translates to growth of 138% year-over-year!

There was no chance to beat September at over 44,000, but that is not the goal (specifics for particular months vary). The most important takeaway is that the pace of growth accelerated from 110% in September to 138% in October.

In October, some 2.5% of new car sales were plug-ins (the 2nd best after nearly 3.1% in September).

U.S. Plug-In Car Sales – October 2018

Total sales during the first ten months of 2018 stand at 268,729 at an average market share of nearly 1.9%.

There was a lot of talk about how Tesla is struggling with production hell in 2017 and in 2018, but just look at how the Tesla Model 3 result compares to the other best-selling models.

The Tesla Model 3 currently represents almost 36% of the total U.S. plug-in car market and together with Model S/X, Tesla takes almost a perfect 50% (in the 10-month period thus far in 2018).

In October, Tesla Model 3 exceeded the Toyota Prius Prime (two generations) on the cumulative sales graph. The Nissan LEAF will be next within two months.

Tesla Model X, on the other hand, caught the Ford Fusion Energi.

Finally, here is the presentation of the automakers closest to losing the federal tax credit (Tesla already entered the countdown for the phase-out of the federal tax credit).

GM probably will sell its 200,000th plug-in in December, but maybe just like in the case of Tesla, the federal tax credit counter will reach 200,000th a month later than anticipated. Reaching 200,000 in early January would be more favorable than in late December, because it enable receipt of the full $7,500 tax credit for 3 more months (compared to just a few days).

Categories: Sales, Tesla

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply

32 Comments on "US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: October 2018"

newest oldest most voted

comment image

The BMW i3 will probably overtake the Ford C-Max Energi in Q4 of 2019.

It’s easy to overtake a model that is no longer being sold.

Hey Benz, how did you get the image in the comment?

Hey Brian,

I use my phone to read articles on this website.

To get the image of the chart in the comment:

First you have to put your finger on the image and hold it for about 2 seconds.

Then the image of the chart will pop up in a separate window/frame.

Then you have to put your finger again on the image of the chart and hold it for about 2 seconds.

Then you will see the option “COPY”.

Press the “COPY” option.

After that you scroll down to the comment box.

There you hold your finger for about 2 seconds, and then you will see the option “PASTE”.

Choose “PASTE”.

Then you will NOT see the image yet.

Instead you will see a line with characters (letters and numbers).

Then you will type your personal comment in the box.

Then you will post your comment.

And that’s when you will be able to see the image in your comment.

The charts on this website are very good.


Thx! Which phone browser/app?


Dat Model 3! What a complete break-through product. It is still on the outside of being affordable for most people but it is still a HUGE breakthrough product.

If automakers can build EVs with 250+ mile range, with >100KW DC-fast-charging, and in the $30K to $40K range, EVs are gonna really take off.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Hooray, an updated LOL chart.
Going to be continuing like that for a while.
Come 2021 I think we’ll begin to see the early years as a barely-readable blip.

You’re probably right. Up through last year, all EVs were niche products. This year, the Tesla Model 3 is the first mainstream EV (“mainstream” here defined as one of the 100 best selling vehicles in the country). As more EVs are released in the 2020-2022 year range, we’re likely to see more go mainstream and the early niche years as quite small indeed.

MAINSTREAM has been defined for the past 15 years here as any vehicle selling at a minimum rate of 5,000 per month (average 60,000 annual) without outside assistance. The reasoning was simple, that level of sustainable sales was a benchmark for profitability. This rate from the automaker was necessary for suppliers & dealers to guarantee the on-going business without losses.

The fact that EV and PHEV sales still have that tax-credit assistance for sales disqualifies them from the measure of mainstream. That’s not a bad thing either. We are still in the early-adopter stage. It doesn’t make sense to rush drawing any conclusions yet.

Think about how different ordinary showroom shoppers are then our group here, which is very well informed and willing to spend extra for the sake of helping along the electrification effort. Wait to see what happens when the extra $7,500 is no longer available.

Put another way, the current sales are low hanging fruit. Attracting interest will be much more of a challenge when appealing to the wider audience, that group who is just looking to replace their old vehicle.

As EVs go mainstream, I can understand the skepticism from some fringe players (which is most of them currently). Tesla has shown that volume can be done with BEVs (good) but has also shown the level of revenue that was required to do it profitably (bad).

I’m sure those on the fringe are wondering how many players are going to be able to secure enough revenue to run a self-sustainable product line.

The model 3 scenario might be a one one-off in terms of being a high demand segment with only one player. I’m not sure I see another like that ever happening again. So either they split the revenue and rely on part sharing, or a few win and others lose their shirt.

It’s quite a stretch imagining GM or Ford trying to seriously compete with Model 3. Regardless of how great looking it is, being a sedan is a deal-killer. The sad reality is most of their non-pickup customers want SUV choices.

Agree, but that was not my point.
Future segments to be “converted” to EV include SUVs, cross-overs, pickups, heavy trucks, semis and maybe even minivans.
I think we’ll see multiple companies trying to grab share at the same time. For example, Model Y will not come to market in a vacuum like the Model 3 did. Tesla may still win, but it won’t be the uncontested free ride that the Model 3 is getting.

It looks like Model Y will win by default, since none of the others announced thus far seem to be planning production numbers anywhere near those of Tesla…

There are 234 models of cars sold in the US. The median amount of vehicles sold by year is 27,500. 60k a year gets you into the top quintile. Your 60k comment seems way off.

According to these numbers, Bolt was 1,727 in October (InsideEVs estimate 2075), and Volt 1,654 (estimate 1,475). I wonder how reliable these are?…

TSLA’s R&D spending went from 17% of revenue in 2015 to 5% in q3 2018, are we concerned that lack of R&D spending will lead to slower product releases when it comes to Y, Roadster, Semi, and truck?

Is not the $ value of 5% in Q3, 2018 – Higher, than the $ value of 17% in Q3- 2015? Since it represents a % of a bigger pie!

It looks like the Model 3 will overtake all other vehicles in cumulative US sales in early to mid Q1-2019. That’s just crazy!

In terms of market share, since most (all?) EVs compete in the sedan category, it would be useful to track that metric as well. Not knowing if any EVs compete as light trucks (Model X maybe?) it appears plug-ins are now about 10 percent of “car” sales. When EV trucks appear, that won’t be such a distinction.

Nice graphs!

Well I’m still hoping that Tesla will sell 200,000 vehicles in the US this year. November has typically been a slow month for Tesla and other EV’s but December has always been super strong.

I’d say it’s virtually certain — if I’m not mistaken, they’d just need to repeat Q3 numbers to be comfortable over 200,000 for the year?

It is all due to Tesla Model 3. Non-Tesla sales growth for 10/17 vs 10/18 was half of what it was from 10/16 vs 10/17.

Yeah, the Model 3 is so good that it is cannibalizing sales of other plug-ins. Nissan better get a long-range LEAF out because the LEAF sales are so stagnant.

Any EV besides a Tesla has a horrible resale value. This is another reason more people choose the M3 over other EV’s. Sure, the initial cost is going to be higher, but after a few years of depreciation the M3 is clearly the more economical choice.

Totally agree. Model 3 is the only bright spot in the NA EV market.

The best selling plugin in the US that is not a Tesla is the Prius Prime, made by the company that actively advertises against plugins.
How messed up is that?

What is the breakdown of level chargers that these models require? (What’s the % of level 2 chargers, fast chargers, etc.)

Your tweet I believe is wrong. You list Model 3 as 36% but that’s total Tesla sales. Then you add 200k S/X sales back on top of the total Tesla sales to reach 50%.

3 sales are only ~100k/ 850k = ~12%
Tesla Sales are ~300k/ 850k = ~36%

These are US sales, not global.

(And Model S + X do not sell anything near 200,000…)