April 2017 EV Sales



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Sunday May 7, 2017 April 2017 EV Sales Another month, another sales record.  April 2017 was the best April on record for EV sales.  The last time that EV sales have not set a record month was in May 2016 which fell just 173 cars short of May 2015.  Overall an estimated 13,152 plug-in cars were sold in April, well ahead of the previous record set in April 2016 which saw estimated sales of 10,531 cars.  Set this against a backdrop of general auto sales which were down about 4.7% in April and thing begin to look bright for plug-in sales, although it is the increasing number of plug-in models that is helping keep sales growing. 


After selling 2,132 cars in March, April saw Volt sales decline to 1,807 cars.  Sales were down about 9% over April 2016 verses a general decline in GM light vehicle sales of 5.8%.


Sales of the Chevy Bolt on the other hand increased in April up from 952 cars sold in February to a new record his of 1,292 cars in April.  Even the record high sales were a bit of a disappointment as some dealerships had been heavily discounting the car and appear to have plenty of inventory.  I think a good part of the problem is the issue with seats.  While many drivers have said they are OK with the seating in the Bolt some owners are not happy while others have given uncomfortable seating as a reason for not buying one.  It appears that Chevy might have some issues with the seat which seems to have a lot of variability in the padding causing some seats to be uncomfortable for some drivers. 
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.  January and February were tied at 4 cars, while sales in March dropped to just 3 cars and in April only 1 car was sold.

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, 5 in November, and just 3 in both December and January., Cadillac registered no sales in February.  Somehow in March they managed to find 2 more cars to sell and even managed to sell 7 in April.


April saw the first sales of the new Cadillac CT6 here in the US with a total of 6 cars being delivered.  The CT6 is a plug-in hybrid with an all electric range of around 30 miles.  The car is built in China and imported into the US. 


In April GM sold a total of 3,113 plug-n cars, just 2 less than it sold in March.


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.  March was no exception with Tesla selling an estimated 6,200 cars for the month.  The first month of the quarter on the other hand is always very low as Tesla switches to sending cars to fulfilling international orders.  In April Tesla sales were 1,840 cars. 


After selling an estimated 3,450 Model S sedans in March, sales fell in April to an estimated 1,125 cars.  This was still better than the estimated 900 cars sold in January, the first month of the previous quarter.


The Model X also saw the expected large drop in Sales in April falling from March sales of an estimated 2,750 cars to just 715 cars being sold in April.  This was also less than the 750 Model X that were estimated to have been sold in January 2015.


Toyota started delivering the new Prius Prime in the second week of November and it has become the sales success of the year so far.  In January they sold a very surprising 1,366 Prius Prime making it the second highest sales for a plug-in in January.  Toyota kept up the pace selling just 4 less in February with 1,362 cars being sold.  In March, with the sales area slowly expanding but still very limited, they managed to sell and additional 1,618 cars.  In April they set a new record month of sales with 1,819 cars being sold, outselling the Chevy Volt to make the Prius Prime the best selling plug-in for the month.


Sales could have been a whole lot higher for this PHEV but sales are still limited to a very small area of the country and dealers just can't get enough of them with a car staying on the dealer lot for an average of just 2 weeks.


Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in March they sold 118 Mirai FCEVs.  In April sales dropped to 106 cars.  By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 1,451 Mirai.


Once again Ford was a strong performer in April selling 1,774 plug-in cars split across its three models. 


Ford's best selling plug-in is typically the Fusion Energi and April was no exception with sales of 905 cars, down from the 1,002 cars sold in March. 

After posting record sales for the C-Max Energi in December with 1,289 cars sold, sales dropped to just 473 cars in January, but climbed again in February where they sold 639 cars.  March saw another slight bump in sales with 662 cars sold, and the trend continued in April with an additional 749 cars delivered.
So what happened with sales of the Ford Focus Electric?  It seems like there was a lot of incentives to move the older car to make room for the new model with and EPA estimated range of 115 miles.  In March Ford sold an astonishing 407 Focus EVs.  It couldn't last though and sales dropped back to the usual 100 to 200 range in April with sales of 120 cars.


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 as priority is given to sales in Europe.  In April they sold a total of 1,213 cars spread across their five plug-in models.

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 2016. In April the sold 516 cars, quite a bit less than March were they sold 703 cars.


BMW i8 Has normally traded in the  150 - 200 range but so far this year they have only managed to trade in the 20 - 60 range.  In February they sold 58 cars but the total dropped to just 49 cars in March and they only managed sales of 23 cars in April.


Sales  of the X5 xDrive40e used to trade in the range of 400 - 600 but this year they have only been trading in the 200 - 400 range.  In March they were close to the top of this new range with 397 cars being sold, but in April they fell back to what has become the new norm selling 291 cars.


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.  January saw sales drop back to 129 cars but sales did rebound a little to 144 cars in February and March saw another all time record set at 365 cars.  In April sales fell back again to a still respectable 260 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 and February saw sales climb to 35 cars.  March saw another increase in sales going up to 42 cars sold.  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 so April sales of 123 cars came as a complete surprise.


After sales of the Nissan Leaf dropped below the 1,000 cars level to 772 cars in January they did rebound in February when they sold a surprising 1,037 cars.  March got even better as sales hit 1,478 units, and they managed to stay above the 1,000 mark in April delivering 1,063 cars.  Nissan is expected to announce the next generation Leaf, probably with a 200 mile range, soon with sales expected to begin towards the end of this year.


VW now has 4 plug-in cars being sold across its family of brands. In April they sold a total of 795 cars.  This was a sizable drop from the 885 cars sold in March.


The Audi A3 e-Tron normally sells in the 300 - 400 range.  In March they popped up above their normal range selling 414 cars, but in April they just managed to squeak into the bottom of the range selling just 301 cars.


The normal selling range for the VW e-Golf is 200 - 400 cars and in March sales were  right in this range at 342 cars.  Like Audi in April they also squeaked into the bottom of the range selling just 307 cars.


The bright spot in April for the VW was the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid which sold a solid 185 cars, there best result since selling 197 cars back in August 2016.  This was quite a decent increase over the 126 cars sold in March.

The Panamera S e-Hybrid is being phased out and will be replaced by the Panamera 4 e-hybrid which is now expected to show up in US dealerships some time in May.  February saw just 1 car being sold, in March this number tripled to 3 cars, and April split the difference landing at 2 cars sold.  It seems unlikely that more will be shipped to the US so sales will be scarce until the arrival of the new model.


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.  March sales came in at an estimated 355 cars and in April sales increased to an estimated 441 cars.


Fiat Chrysler America have begun production of the much anticipated Pacifica Hybrid Minivan and actually sold 12 in January.  Chrysler extended the Christmas and New Year break for an extra week because of an general oversupply of vehicles at its dealers and this impacted production on the Pacifica Hybrid.  Compounding the issue, a quality control hold was placed on the vehicles so cars have just began arriving in dealerships around April 17.  Typical of Fiat Chrysler America they refuse to split out sales of the Pacifica Hybrid so once again I turned to Inside EV who estimated that in April 205 Pacifica Hybrids were delivered to Customers.


In total Fiat Chrysler delivered 646 Plug-in Cars in April.


Sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV in was 190 cars falling to 175 cars in February.  Sales recovered somewhat in March climbing back up to 295 cars but pulled back to 280 cars in April.  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.


In April Hyundai also began sales of the all electric version of the Ioniq in California delivering 19 cars to paying customers.  Hyundai say the car will eventually be sold nationwide.  The Ioniq Electric has a range of around 120 miles with a price starting at less than $31,000 before incentives so it should sell reasonably well if Hyundai can get cars to dealerships.  A plug-in hybrid version is also expected later in the year.


In April Hyundai sold a total of 299 plug-in cars. 


I've always said that the Kia Soul EV should be a good seller but Kia has always kept inventory constrained on this car.  They have normally traded in the 100 - 200 range straying above that only once when they sold 217 cars in September 2016. In April the Kia Sould once again stayed within it's normal trading range selling 167 cars.  This was slightly less than the 171 cars that were sold in March.


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.  In February Kia sold an additional 85 cars.  In March sales fell back to 70 cars but jumped up in April to set a new monthly sales record at 86 cars.


In total Kia managed to sell an estimated 253 plug-in cars in April.


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.  March was no exception with sales falling to 50 cars but April saw a little bit of a breakout when sales hit 66 cars.  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 40 - 60 cars with March sales hitting the top of this range at 60 cars but sales of the S550e also jumped out of this normal selling range delivering 86 cars in April.


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.  After setting a new sales record with 83 cars being sold in December, January sales dropped back to 52 cars. Sales bounced back a little in February to 59 cars but in March sales fell again to 47 cars and even further in April to 36 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 had 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 but I suspect that this depleted inventory pretty badly and February saw sales drop back to 51 cars, while sales in March plummeted to just 17 cars while in April just 3 more cars were sold.  I expect that this car will sell well if Mercedes-Benz can supply enough inventory to its dealers.


Overall Mercedes Benz sold 186 Plug-in cars in March, a slight increase after two months of declining sales.


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. Things got even worse in February with only 83 cars being sold.  March saw the SUV return to it's normal trading range of 100 - 200 range selling 103 cars while April saw sales land squarely in the middle of the range with 145 cars sold.


I have to ask, when will the upgraded Smart Electric Drive begin to arrive in the USA.  Sales have been down to almost nothing since the older model went out of production last year.  In March sales were just 13 cars and April saw a further pull-back when Smart sold only 3 cars.  The latest news is that Smart is expected to become an EV only brand here in the US.


Mitsubishi just don't appear to be able to supply plug-in cars to the US.  In January Mitsubishi didn't sell any i-MiEV but they did manage 1 sale in February, 3 sales in March, and 2 sales in April.  It looks like the i-MiEV will continue to trade in the 1 to 10 car range going forward.


Plug-in car sales did OK in April with a 30% increase over April 2016.  This is in a month that has been difficult for carmakers who have almost all seen declining sales.  It should also be remembered that April had one less sales day that March. 


This year is already on track to set another record for electric car sales and we are already seeing new models arrive on a pretty regular basis.  The BMW 530e and Porsche Panamera 4 e-Hybrid should start to arrive in dealerships during May.  By July the Tesla model 3 should be rolling off the assembly line so we should start to see sales of that model in July or August.  The indications are that first sales will be at the very end of July but early sales are likely to go to Tesla Employees who will basically be beta testers. 


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