US Plug-In Hybrid Car Sales Charted: November 2018

DEC 29 2018 BY MARK KANE 44

November was a record month with over 14,000 sales

From time to time, we’ve been asked about separate sales reports for plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars and last month provided us with a perfect opportunity to look into PHEVs more deeply as more than 14,000 were sold.

The split between PHEVs and BEVs requires some assumptions, because vehicle classification is not digital or 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.

There are about 34 mainstream plug-in hybrid passenger cars on the market as of 2018 (some models are all-new, while others are being withdrawn). Because the plug-in market expands, and there are more models, you can see more or less steady growth over the past eight years.

We estimate that November 2018 was an all-time record by a huge margin – up to around 14,400. On the other hand, PHEV share in overall volume of plug-in cars is decreasing because progress on the BEV side is higher (see separate report for BEVs coming soon). The times where the Chevrolet Volt dominated a table of just a few models (over 80-90% share) are long gone.

U.S. PHEV Car Sales – November 2018

During the first 11 months of this year, more than 113,000 plug-in hybrid cars were sold the in U.S., which is the best year ever (up 33% year-over-year). The total volume since 2010 is almost 490,000 (45% of total 1.078 million). The share among all plug-ins for the 11 months decreased to 36%.

The best selling plug-in hybrids since 2010 are:

Those three account for almost two-thirds of all PHEVs sales in the U.S. so far. The Volt also recently set its new all-time record of 3,930 in November. It’s also the highest monthly result of any PHEV, which is kind of sad when you know that production of Volt will end early 2019.

Without the Volt, the market of PHEVs will be affected and we are not sure whether other models will be able to increase enough to compensate for the Volt’s loss and provide growth of the segment in 2019.

Feel free to tell us in comments what your perspectives are for plug-in hybrids.

Categories: Chevrolet, Ford, Sales, Toyota

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44 Comments on "US Plug-In Hybrid Car Sales Charted: November 2018"

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Interesting to see what’s announced at the North American International Auto Show next month.

Why a BMW i3 REX?
The charging stations can be: Offline, Broken, Full, and rare more than 20 miles apart.
Now, with wing nuts blocking some of them.
With the BMW i3 REX, I just drive on gas to the next station.

I find it interesting that Europe can sell about 20,000 BMW i3, but the US dealers can’t seem to get past 8,000.
There’s a failure in the dealer network somewhere.

The 2019 i3 in the EU is BEV only now with the longer range battery…
I would guess the BMW i3 sales in the EU are a reflection of their government mandated pollution reduction requirements as they are certainly production restrained so they would most likely allot a higher percentage to the EU…
Also the EU does not have the same draconian dealer ship laws that the US does…
Not sure about BMW but VW rewrote their dealer contracts in the EU several months ago making them EV friendly…
The EU culture is not as broken and divided with unhappy citizens like the US so their will probably be much less wing nuts blocking and vandalizing chargers…

I wonder if the EU shouldn’t still have a REX option.
As the S curve adoption begins there may come a time of lines at charging stations.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

They have lower average driving distances and much better CCS charging coverage.

RIP PHEVs an expensive legacy technology whose day is mostly done outside of high dollar autos which need a pollution reduction and can afford the price premium…
With the falling price of batteries PHEV can no longer provide the cost and pollution reduction that legacy car makers need…
Both VW and GM appear to be abandoning this segment and others will follow…

Having owned my model 3 LR for 4 months now I think there is very much a place for PHEVs for people who either a) need to take highway trips and don’t live on the US west coast or b) aren’t willing to pony up for an LR model 3 or c) live somewhere with real winter (temps below 15 F) and need to take highway road trips or d) don’t want to _plan_ highway road trips factoring in things like wind, speed and air temps. I need to do all of those today even in the mighty model 3 LR. PHEVs would also be a great option for Rav4 sized and priced CUVs until batteries get _really_ cheap. I agree BEVs are the future but to me not the present.

Where you are really wrong is that for one thing:

1). VOLT is lower MSRP than the BOLT ev and some people consider it the nicer of the two cars.

2). Don’t let GM’s discontinuance of the VOLT mean they’re putting more emphasis on BEV’s. I don’t see any protection for the BOLT should the air-head management decide to get rid of it due to tanking sales as a result of loss of the tax credit.

+1. I fully support you.
With Volt you can cover many trips on 100% electricity or at least part of your trip and drive happily anywhere without range anxiety.
Sadly GM and its dealers never sold it anxiously. That’s why they restricted it to 11 states initially and then build it up slowly.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Bolt 4 credits.
Volt 1.3 credits.
Max value of each credit $5k
For the Bolt, GM paid $140/kWh just for cells.
That cost is expected to drop below $100 as battery costs head to $100/kWh.
GM is going to place more emphasis on BEVs.

$2400 in decreased battery cost isn’t going to add up with $7500 lost in tax credits… Sorry. And of course, that assumes other manufacturers are going to be standing still, which of course, they won’t be.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

$140 was just the cells. _Battery_ prices are headed to $100/kWh. The drop’s going to be much bigger than $2.4k.
And this was the Bolt, which is a compliance vehicle. It’s just a placeholder.

The way people talk around here, seemingly the BOLT ev is critical to GM’s entire future – both Barra and HVACman.

I mean, I bought the first one in Western NY a day before they were supposedly offered for sale (in february 2017), and I like the car – but it isn’t so impressive that you can build a successful car company around it… Maybe with 2 batteries and optionally 2 motors – then you’d really have somthing.

“With the falling price of batteries PHEV can no longer provide the cost and pollution reduction that legacy car makers need…”

Your reasoning is completely bass-ackwards. Falling battery prices will make PHEV’s (and BEV’s for that matter) MORE competitive with traditional ICE platforms.

A prius prime has more real world utility than any electric and is also cheaper than any and MUCH cheaper than many. Acceleration adequate for people without testosterone poisining.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Prius Prime is a better Prius.
Prius + Prime sales are falling.
Doesn’t matter that we think it’s adequate, many people obviously disagree.
If people really liked them, cheaper gas would lead to higher sales. It doesn’t, sales drop.

HEV will never be as cheap as ICEV.
PHEV will never be as cheap as HEV.
So, as battery prices fall, BEVs, with cheaper batteries per kWh than both, simpler to build than both, and better electric performance than both will keep squeezing and cross the price gap.

And if you think that the Prime is cheap, in European countries it’s more expensive than mid-range electrics. (Curious, it’s almost as if the US pricing is special). What do you think’s going to happen as battery prices continue to fall?

I hope the PHEVs wont phase out too quicktly. Not that I dont want to see more BEV on the road, but I think the PHEVs price tags have the potential to compete faster with the ICE cars. If a pluggable Prius would be 5000$ more than a Corolla, who would still buy the Corolla?

It is so for now with tax credit and rebates. Deficits, odd styling and battery in trunk.

The executives who head GM I’ve always considered a bit brain-dead. Not only did they drive the company to bankruptcy once, (and their predecessors were borderline EVIL – they managed through front-companies to shut down the ENTIRE established Electric Transportation system the USA once had (LOS ANGELES, as an example had a superb public transportation system) so that people would be forced to buy their smelly GM Diesel Buses). Now, (contrary to what was said here, as the Volt’s MSRP is lower than their sole remaining plug-in product, the BOLT ev), GM is discontinuing their BEST SELLING Low Priced PHEV in November, by the end of February, only 2 months away. They had already listened to that IDIOT ev-hater Johan de Nysschen, you know, the guy who said “Plug In’s are dumb – people should drive Clean Diesels”. ==>> VW knows how much money that advice cost them; JdN prematurely killed the respectably selling ELR after only 12 months of manufacture before it could develop a following – even the Prius took time before its sales ultimately took off – without announcing a replacement, and then coming up with an extremely low selling PHEV CT6 that no doubt poorly sold… Read more »
Bill, 1. Taking a shot at current GM management based on pre-2008 GM management is way off-base. Dan Akerson’s mission as interim CEO was to ensure that those types of SOB’s never came back to power, which is why in 2013, GM’s new permanent CEO was a second-generation GM lifer-manufacturing engineer who had actually run an assembly plant – Mary Barra. If you look at the other key players in the current executive team, you will see the bean counters were replaced by engineers and “car people”. I grew up in a GM working-class family and we’ve traditionally hated GM corporate management going back to 1963, but current lot is the very best…GM is finally investing in the future. Sorry you don’t see it. 2. Johan did not last long with GM. I suspect his anti-EV “voice” was not as-listened-to as you might think. https://www.motor1.com/news/239588/cadillac-names-new-president/ 3. You’re right about the Bolt having a limited future life. It will likely be phased out in 2020-2021, but there will definitely BE a replacement – as a matter of fact, there will be up to NINE replacements – 7 BEV SUV’s/CUV’s from economy to luxury and two low-roof sedan/hatchback types, all based on… Read more »

Nope they going lose again

How many of these cars/models will see NA, based on GMs current behavior and statements I’m guessing not many if any. They will only produce EVs where they are forced to, Barra said as much.

Let’s agree to disagree. I apparently have more practical experience as a customer with GM. .Sorry, I don’t agree at all with any of your numbered points; I’ll save the minutia for later.

Tried to find some of the future products. Found a larger vehicle that was vaguely described with probably Euro range of 350 miles – which probably means 250. Rest of the stuff seems to be a Bolt ev with a different name plate.

They did all the ‘badge engineered’ stuff before the LAST bankruptcy.

I don’t remotely see how ev’s and AV’s are a match since almost all of them so far have been ICE’s. Doesn’t take much for the minimum wage dude at the corner gas station to gas the thing up, and it wastes a lot less time.

JDN lasted long enough to piss off all the Cadillac dealers with his dreaded “Pinnacle” Plan, discontinued a nice EV after only 12 months of manufacture with no replacement for years- and then it was that JOKE CT6 phev, which only sold at 1/10th the rate of the ‘slow selling’ model. I’m not going to spend a fortune on a Chinese car because they’re not at the stage yet where reliability is assured. Rather like the japanese stuff in the late ’50’s. Now a Lexus I’d have no problem buying but they’re at the top of the reliability list but they are out for the time being due to no plug-ins. As far as ICE tech goes – they should learn something from Toyota and Honda, who makes the most efficient PHEV’s, of course hiring 50,000 EE’s to make electrics was brain-dead. Most of the fantastic cars from decades ago were made with 2 or 3 designers for the whole thing. There are enough mistakes from modern cars that one would think all the tens of thousands of extra engineers would pick up on the trouble that regular car owners have. They must just surf the internet all day… At… Read more »

GM is discontinuing a car that has dual drive trains and is expensive to produce with little room for profit…
The falling price of batteries and a simple single drive trian leaves much more room for profit…
GM is simply doing the obvious and killing this piece of legacy technology and will hopefully now increase Bolt production… Maybe??

It is asinine to compare past and present companies as anytime a huge corporation changes CEOs they change souls and can change direction…
Yes GM did initially kill the electric car but they were only in that position because they created the first great usable modern electric car…
How did it happen…
One CEO championed the EV1 and his replacement crushed it…

CEO’s change but their Nonsense Blather continues – NO Offense, but I’ll make my own determination as to when there is a significant change.

The only Senior Executive in GM’s recent history that cared at all about electrics was BOB Lutz – and he got criticism from all sides – and seemingly was overly disciplined for saying ‘Non-Politically-Correct’ things – No one likes to be yelled at from all sides simultaneously – and so he said to hell with it – when can I retire from this joint?

Congratulations….. Now there is NO-ONE at GM who promotes electric cars, other than the perfunctory vague blather.

At least Honda is advertising their Clarity PHEV and seemingly actually wants to sell one or two of them.. Fancy That!

Except for the Volt customer isn’t going to buy a Pickup instead.
A lost Volt sale is a lost sale.
And as the assembly line was already built, and engineering done, all sunk costs economically, it would make Economic Sense to keep production going.

My Volt is the greatest car I have owned out of probably hundreds in my lifetime.Is GM gone bonkers for discontinuing them?It doesn’t make sense.

Yeah, and although the reliability of the GEN 2 is not quite up to where the GEN 1 was – one of its reasons for development was to be a cost reduced model, and be more economical for the customer to operate due to higher efficiency. Agreed it is silly to throw this away since unlike other Hybrid attempts by GM this was a developmental advance (CT6 PHEV Joke excepted).

It is a bitter-sweet day when I as an “EVer” (the Bolt is my 5th EV) I have to look for Honda and Toyota for the future – they haven’t been asleep either and their electronics and ICE efficiency acumen are top-notch.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Honda and Toyota?! Hahaha. They’re still producing ridiculous urban EV concepts, while other manufacturers are making cars.

Volt MSRP $34k, tax credit about to drop, form factor market tanking, sales going nowhere, credits 1/3 of a long-range BEV, battery prices falling rapidly,

No point keeping Hammtramck open for it.

They might bring the Velite 6 equivalent to the USA. Crossover form factor, planned to be both PHEV and BEV. Maybe the US market won’t care if vehicle’s built in China, or the all the EV drivetrain components are imported and the vehicle assembled in the USA.

The people at Hammtramck – which by the way leveled thousands of buildings to make way for it in the 80’s is now going to be gone, and the people moving out or just going on public assistance. Thanks GM.

The people who used to make the American Volt ain’t gonna be buying many Velites.

My guess is the Volt will be produced in China, better economies of scale and imported, I love my Volt, but talking to the dealership, it’s like talking to the wall. They think Diesel is better, they have no clue. I’m tired of stupid dealers, I love the Tesla model souch better. I can’t wait for Tesla to put them out of business.

Since when is less competition better for the consumer? Especially those in lower economic levels?

Be careful what you wish for.

The dealers think diesel is better because they know they can make maintenance money of the drivetrain, and that is what GM is pushing them to sell.

Pushing them to sell? Discontinuing all the electrics – including the best seller of all time still in the states, and discontinuing cars nobody buys (like the beautiful Impala – which has received ZERO advertising for years), and the CRUZE – which are big sellers by me, but only the Mexican Hatchback will remain makes me wonder if GM will have anything besides a diesel to sell.

I’m sure GM and Ford are looking to see what kind of trade deal is made with the Chinese.

People in general are especially knocking FORD lately for their mostly lousy products. If GM STILL loses market share – that proves they all take each others’ bad ideas.

In 2011 when Volt outsold Leaf by 2:1 or 3:1, the media bragged that Electric vehicles will fail soon and its time has not come.
Fast forward, 8 years, they are all keeping quiet.
2018 is the year the Electric vehicle sales skyrocketed with Tesla Model-3 in charge and it has spewed smoke on the plugins.
Ohh, did I say Model-3 spewed smoke, I am sorry.

There is still a big market for plugins, but automakers don’t want to sell because they are lot more affordable with a smaller battery pack and could kill the regular ICEs faster. That’s why automakers have restricted them so severely.

With many Electric vehicles joining the bandwagon in China, the chance for plugin hybrids are thinning.

Chevy Volt is the only plugin hybrid that is leading Model-3 in sales.
When Jan sales comes in Feb, Model-3 would have overtaken Volt.
So sad that GM did very little to boost the Volt sales.

BMW i3 is currently sold only in Electric version and the REX may come later and that too only in limited qty.
As the range of Electric increases, peoples interest in range extension probably declines.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Yes, BMW already killing the REx in Europe with introduction of a mid-range i3. I expect that they’ll be ready to kill the REx if US demand drops as well.

If you live in a non-coastal climate, winters can chop battery range in half for a sizable fraction of the year. If you don’t live in California, non-home chargers can still be rare. If you live in an older house, or don’t own a house, charging options at home may be limited. All of these have held true for me. So as much as I’ve wanted, a BEV hasn’t been in the cards for me, although I’m sure it will be in the future. When I needed to get a new car last year, I had to work with last year’s situation. In Chicago, pluggable hybrids are still a very new thing, and a reasonable adaptation to local conditions. In fall or spring, I’ve managed to get up to 27 miles on a charge with our 2017 Ford Fusion. Summer AC or winter heating bring that down to 11 miles. There has been one reliable charger near work in a downtown parking garage. (That has practically been a private parking spot up until two months ago, when Model 3’s apparently hit critical mass in Chicago). I plan on rewiring our garage to handle charging next summer; it turned out our… Read more »
>> The best selling plug-in hybrids since 2010 are…. That’s so vague of a statement, it doesn’t serve a constructive purpose. First, the numbers presented should emphasize they are United States only. If you considers numbers from the rest of the world through the end of 2017 for Prius PHV/Prime, there another 63,197 sales unaccounted for. Add to that another roughly 25,000 to account for 2018 sales outside the United States. All those most definitely should be counted, since they are very much part of the economy-of-scale benefit. That overall volume is how production-cost is reduced. Knowing that, we see Prius PHV/Prime far outsold Volt, even when you add in the Opel (European) model. Second, Prius PHV (gen-1) was only a mid-cycle update rolled out to 15 states. Never being offered in 35 states means you get a very distorted representation of actual demand. Further, Prius Prime (gen-2) still isn’t available outside of most of the coastal states. The middle of the United States only has special-order availability and only for select dealers. That too contributes to a misrepresentation of demand. Without supply, how can that be accurately measured? Third, production of Prius PHV was halted in June 2015. That… Read more »

correction = January 2016 should actually be January 2017

GM made a wopper mistake not making the Volt all electric or at least making it an option, it’s this backwards kind of thinking that will bring them groveling once again to the government for another loosing bail out.
Last time the government bought GM stocks and when they sold them they lost 40+ % on their investment.

The Volt only sold in CARB numbers, about 30,000.
And it’s being cancelled as the Federal Tax Credit gets cut in half for the Volt.

So, we will never know what the real cost of the vehicle was.
It’s a CLASSIC CAR right now as no one seems to be ready to build something similar.
( The Honda is too ugly to consider. )

The Volt wasn’t promoted to be a big part of GM’s revenue numbers.