January 2017 EV Sales



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Sunday February 5, 2017 January 2017 EV Sales The first month of 2017 saw a much lower level of sales than we saw in December but this was always expected.  The good news is that we saw the highest ever EV sales for January.  Not only that, but at an estimated 10,615 cars sold, we blew away the previous record set in January 2016 where just 6,221 cars were sold.  Sales were actually much better than I expected fired by excellent results from two newcomers, the Chevrolet Bolt, and the Toyota Prius Prime.


After returning record sales of 3,691 cars in December, sales of the Chevy Volt were not expected to do that well in January.  While sales were much lower for the Volt they still managed to sell a very respectable 1,611 cars making the Volt the best selling plug-in for the month. This was the best January sales ever for the Volt and well ahead of the 996 cars they sold in January 2016.


As promised GM began delivery of the Chevy Bolt in the middle of December.  GM had said that they would be delivering the first cars to Lift drivers and that appears to have been what happened as most dealers in California and Oregon didn't see cars arriving in any numbers until the very last days of December.  GM still managed to deliver 579 Bolts in December.  In January sales of the Chevy Bolt climbed to 1,152 cars. 
With the arrival of the Bolt, sales of the Chevy Spark EV are being wound down as inventory is depleted.  In October 260 cars were sold and this number dropped to 39 cars in November and 17 cars in December.  In January sales fell just 4 cars. It seems unlikely that any more cars will be shipped to the US from Korea so sales will continue low until existing dealer inventory is gone.

Sales of the Cadillac ELR have been steadily falling as existing dealer inventory is depleted and no more are being built. After selling 6 cars in both August and September, 3 in October, and 5 in November, sales in December dropped back to just 3 with an equal number being sold in January.  Cadillac's plug-in sales will probably continue at a dribble until the CT6 PHEV goes on sale in mid-2017.


In January GM manage to sell 2,780 plug-n cars which is a pretty good total for January.  That was after selling 4,290 cars in December which was their best sales month ever for plug-in cars.


Tesla never gives out how many cars they sell each month but Inside EV does a pretty good job of estimating their overall monthly sales.  In the Third month of the quarter Tesla always does a big push to try and meet their quarter end projections.  January is always a month when Tesla focuses on international sales and it appears that this January was no exception. 


December was Tesla's best sales month ever for the model S, delivering an estimated 5,850 cars.  In January sales dropped to an estimated 900 cars.  While this was a pretty bad month for US deliveries at Tesla they still did better than the estimated 850 cars they sold in January 2016.


Like the Model S, the Model X also had its best sales month ever in December selling an estimated 3,875 units, but sales of the Model X also fell in January to an estimated 750 cars.  Also like the Model, Model S sales were considerably better than the 270 cars that they sold in January 2016.


Total sales at Tesla for December were 9,725 cars which was also Tesla's best sales month ever.  This dropped to just 1,650 cars in January, 2017. 


What a difference a couple of months can make in the Plug-in world.  Toyota started delivering the new Prius Prime in the second week of November.  During the month, with sales in a limited number of areas, mostly California and Oregon, they sold 781 cars.  This set a record for the most plug-in cars sold in the first month of sales.  Not to be outdone, December sales increased to 1,641 cars.  In January they sold a very surprising 1,366 Prius Prime making it the second highest sales for a plug-in in January.  It looks like  the Prius Prime may well become one of the best selling Plug-in cars in 2017.


Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in December they sold 116 Mirai FCEVs.  In January sales dropped to 83 cars.  By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 1,117 Mirai.


Once again Ford was a strong performer in January selling a total of 1,135 plug-in cars split across its three models. 


After being out-sold by the C-Max Energi in December the Ford Fusion regained its position as Ford's best selling plug-in by selling 606 cars In January.  This was the worst sales month for the Fusion Energi since they sold 581 cars in January 2016.   Previously in December they sold1,099 cars.

After posting record sales for the C-Max Energi in December with 1,289 cars sold, sales dropped to just 473 cars in January.  Similar to the Fusion Energi we have to go all the way back to January, 2016 to see lower sales numbers when 350 cars were sold.
Sales of the Ford Focus Electric continue to be slow.  It used to be that they sold in the 100 to 200 range but over the past year they have been selling in the 50 - 150 car range.  In fact in 2016 they only managed to sell more than 100 cars in two months that year, March, when they sold 110 cars., and December when the sold 101 Focus EVs.  In January Focus EV sales dropped to the low end of the range with just 56 cars being sold.  While this was not their lowest sales month the Focus Electric was one of the few models not out of production that sold less than they did in January, 2016.


VW now has 4 plug-in cars being sold across its family of brands and for the first time they managed to break the 1,000 car barrier with Sales of 1,056 cars in August.  December saw them back above 1000 cars with 1,187 cars sold, their best sales month ever.  In January they fell short of selling 1,000 cars by just 2, selling 998 cars in total. 


After selling a record number of cars in December with sales of 589 cars, sales of the Audi A3 e-Tron dropped back to their normal selling range of 300 - 400 by selling 387 cars during the month of January.  This was their 3rd best sales month ever after November and December of 2016.


After three months of trading above their normal 200 - 400 selling range sales of the VW e-Golf dropped back to more normal sales levels in November selling 305 cars.  December saw sales climb back above the 400 again with sales of 443 cars.  In January sales headed back to their normal range once more with sales of 332 cars.


One car that actually sold better in January than it did in December was the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid.  After posting sales of  152 in December sales increased to 177 cars in January.

The Panamera S e-Hybrid is being phased out and will be replaced by the Panamera 4 e-hybrid which is expected to show up in US dealerships some time in April.  November sales of 88 cars pretty much blew out existing inventory so December sales dropped to just 3 cars and January fell even further to 2 cars.  It seems unlikely that more will be shipped to the US so sales will be scarce until the arrival of the new model.


BMW sales have been all over the map for the past year or so.  The issue appears to be inventory; it just seems like they can't produce enough cars to provide sufficient inventory on dealer lots.  In December they sold a total of 1,756 cars but sales dropped back to 841 in January.

Sales of the i3 in particular have been all over the place, varying from a low of just 182 cars in January, 2016 to a high of 1,479 in July  In November sales were right in the middle of the range with 629 cars sold and In December things picked up again a little with sales of 791 cars. January saw sales fall to 382 cars.


In contrast, the BMW i8 was the only BMW plug-in model that showed a month over month decrease in November going from 199 cars in October to 173 cars.   This trend continued in December as sales dropped to 133 cars, well below the expect 150 - 200 range they normally sell in.  Things got even worse in January as sales dropped to just 50 cars.  This was still an improvement on January, 2016 where only 32 cars were sold.


Sales  of the X5 xDrive40e also showed a sizable drop in sales in January with sales of just 262 cars.  In December 569 cars were sold. While BMW does now have about 500 cars on dealer lots going into February they still haven't built it back up to levels seen earlier in the year so sales will probably continue to be constrained for the next few months.


The 330e is a good seller in Europe and I expect it to do well here in the US too once dealer inventory builds to sufficient levels.  The good news is that BMW are finally beginning to get cars on dealer lots and this was reflected in October with 92 sales. In November they blew that number away as sales climbed to 215 cars setting a new monthly sales record.  December saw another increase in Sales going up to 240 cars, an all time high.  This couldn't be sustained however so January saw sales drop back to 129 cars.


In August BMW dealers were supposed to begin receiving the new 7 Series plug-in hybrid, the 740e, and finally, in December they made it to dealerships,  By the end of December the keys to 23 cars had been handed over to customers.  January added a further18 cars to BMWs sales total.  The issue is the same as we saw with the 330e, the car is basically sold out for the next year so the US only received a token inventory meaning sales are expected to remain low for this car for a while.


Sales of the Nissan Leaf had shown a steady improvement over the last few months of 2016.  After having their best month of the year selling 1,316 cars in September they managed to improve sales again to 1,412 cars in October, 1,457 cars in November, and 1,899 in December.  In January sales dropped back to 772 cars.  It should be noted that like most plug-in cars that are currently in production sales did beat the 755 cars they sold in January, 2016.


It appears that Mercedes Benz is keeping inventory of the B250e in short supply.  This was reflected in sales that seem to hover in the 40 - 60 range. January was no exception with sales falling to 53 after selling 54 cars in December.  Rumor has it that supply will remain limited until the next generation, expected to offer more than 200 miles of range, becomes available. 


Sales of Mercedes Benz's first plug-in hybrid model the S550e PHEV appeared to have settled into the range of 20 - 50 cars with September sales hitting an all time high of 41 cars.  October blew this out of the water though with sales jumping to 174 cars.  This will have seriously depleted inventory and sales fell again in November to 52 cars but still stayed above their normal trading range.  December saw another month above the normal trading level as sales climbed to 71 cars.  January sales dropped back to 55 cars but still stayed above the historical trading range.


There was so little fanfare that almost nobody knew these cars were going on sale, yet in June Mercedes Benz quietly began selling the GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV.  December set a new sales record with 83 cars being sold but in January sales dropped back to 52 cars.  Given the American's love affair with SUVs this car should sell relatively well but the car is only available as a special order item in most locations so that results in limited sales.


Mercedes-Benz have put back the launch of the C350e several times but it finally began appearing in dealerships in December.  First month sales were pretty impressive at 171 cars.  January sales were even better with 210 cars being sold.  I expect that this car will sell well if Mercedes-Benz can supply enough inventory to its dealers.


Overall Mercedes Benz sold 370 Plug-in cars in January just 9 less than the 379 cars they sold in December.


The Fiat 500e is just a compliance car for Fiat Chrysler America, and they don't break out sales figures, so I have been using the numbers calculated by Inside EV from state rebate information.  January sales came in at an estimated 345 cars.  This was quite a bit below the December sales estimate of 650 cars.


Fiat Chrysler America have begun production of the much anticipated Pacifica Hybrid and sales are expected to start towards the end of February.


October sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV was 255 cars and November saw an additional 285 cars being sold.  December sales climbed to 325 cars which was the second best sales month for this car, being beaten only by the 375 cars they sold back in July.  In January sales fell back to 190 cars.  Like sister company Kia they only stock small amounts of cars in dealer inventory in a limited number of states and while it is technically available nationwide in most states it has to be special ordered. 


I've always said that the Kia Soul EV should be a good seller but Kia has always kept inventory constrained on this car.  Things seem to be changing and in September Kia set a monthly sales record, crossing the 200 mark for the first time, with sales of 217 cars. In December the Kia Soul had it second best sales month of the year with 197 cars sold.  Sales fell in January when they notched up just 117 deliveries.  It looks like Kia Soul has set a new trading level this year and will continue to sell in the 100 - 200 car range going forward.


Kia also has the Optima PHEV which was expected to go on Sale here in the US starting in December, but sales didn't actually kick off until January when 40 cars were sold.  It will be interesting to see how well this car sells going forwards.


The Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV was one of the few cars that did not beat their January 2016 sales numbers reporting only 96 cars being sold in January well below the 226 cars they sold in January, 2016 and the 204 cars sold in December.  I suspect that the XC90 T8 PHEV has mostly traded in the 100 - 200 range and I expect this to continue going forward.


Smart Electric Drive sales used to make up a significant portion of total Smart sales but recently sales have been quite low.  The reason for this appears to be that production of the old model has ceased.  The new model is expected to go on sale early in 2017 and is expected to have slightly better range than the current model, increasing to 88 miles.  Since September sales have stayed in the 40 - 50 range and December sales just squeaked in at 40 cars. In January sales dropped to just 15 copies.


Mitsubishi just don't appear to be able to supply plug-in cars to the US.  After a sales surge in April when they sold 6 i-MiEV things cooled of in May when sales dropped back to just 2 cars.  In June sales improved by 100% over May as they sold 4 cars.  In July things got wild as sales surged to 20 cars.  Things improved again in August when sales climbed to 25 cars.  The momentum couldn't be maintained and sales dropped again in September to 17 cars.  October saw a further pull back to 4 cars, while November pushed this back up to 5 cars and December sales dropped back to 3 cars.  In January Mitsubishi didn't sell any i-MiEV.  It looks like the i-MiEV will continue to trade in the 1 to 10 car range going forward.


January is typically a very difficult sales month for electric cars.  People usually rush to get their purchases done in December so that they can claim the tax credit in April, and so sales in January tend to be really slow.  Add to that the typically bad weather in the mid-west and north-east and this usually makes for a bad month for dealers.  Still, sales this January were much better than I expected.  If you exclude models like the Cadillac ELR that are no longer in production then most cars did better in January than they did in January of the previous year.  Add to that the Chevy Bolt and Prius Prime, both of which did very well for their second month of sales, and there is much to be pleased about.  February is a short sales month so it too is typically one of the weakest months of the year so it will be interesting to see how we fair..

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