March 2017 EV Sales



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Sunday Apr 9, 2017 March 2017 EV Sales Another month, another sales record.  March 2017 was the best March on record for EV sales and the second best monthly sales numbers of all time.  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 18,107 plug-in cars were sold in March, destroying the previous record set in March 2016 which saw estimated sales of 13,857 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.  March was no exception with Tesla selling an estimated 6,200 cars for the month.  They also exceeded analysts expectation for the first quarter reporting more than 25,000 vehicles sold worldwide, their best quarter ever. 


After selling an estimated 1,750 Model S sedans in February sales jumped in March to an estimated 3,450 cars.  This was still below their sales for March 2016 when an estimated 3,990 cars were sold.


The fall-off in sales of the Model S was more than made up for by an uptick in the sales of the Model X which saw its best March sales with an estimated 2,750 cars being sold.  In February Tesla had sold only 800 Model X.


After selling 1,820 cars in February, March saw Volt sales climb back above 2,000 with sales of 2,132 cars.  This was the best March for the Volt since they sold 2,289 cars back in March 2012.


As promised GM began delivery of the Chevy Bolt in the middle of December and managed to deliver 579 Bolts.  In January sales of the Chevy Bolt climbed to 1,152 cars but dropped in February falling short of the 1,000 mark with a disappointing 952 cars.  In March sales increased slightly to 978 cars but still fell short of the 1,000 car mark. 
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.

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. 


In March GM sold a total of 3,115 plug-n cars.


Once again Ford was a strong performer in March selling 2,071 plug-in cars split across its three models. 


Ford's best selling plug-in is typically the Fusion Energi and March was no exception with sales of 1002 cars, up from the 837 cars sold in February.  This is the first time that Ford has sold more than 1,000 Fusion Energi this year which may indicate that they have overcome inventory problems that resulted in the lower sales in recent months. 

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.
So what happened with sales of the Ford Focus Electric?  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 - 100 car range.  What a difference a few extra miles of range can make!  The new improved range Ford Focus is now becoming available with an EPA estimated 115 miles of range and the addition of DC fast charging.  Ford did some clearing of inventory of the older version hitting sales of 228 in February.  In March they began clearing a long backlog of orders for the new version which resulted in sales of 407 cars. This was their best sales month ever for the Focus EV well ahead of the previous record of 264 set in August 2014.


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.  During November, 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.  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 just short of December's record sales tally.


Toyota is putting its money into Fuel Cell cars and in February they sold 110 Mirai FCEVs.  In March sales climbed again to 118 cars.  By my reckoning, since they went on sale in January 2016, Toyota has sold a total of 1,345 Mirai.


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 February they sold a total of 830 cars but sales jumped to 1,556 in March.

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 and sales fell a little further in February to 318 cars.  March sales recovered somewhat climbing to 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 50 - 60 range.  In February they sold 58 cars but the total dropped to just 49 cars in March.


Sales  of the X5 xDrive40e moved closer to the normal trading range of 400 - 600 cars in March with sales of 397 cars.  In February they had sold just 275 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 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.


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.  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 march they sold a total of 885 cars.  This was a little better than the 815 cars sold in February.


The Audi A3 e-Tron normally sells in the 300 - 400 range.  In February they hit the top end of their normal trading range by selling exactly 400 cars.  In March they popped up above their normal range selling 414 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.  Previously in February 293 e-Golf were sold.


After selling 177 cars in January sales of the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid fell to 121 cars in February but increased a little to 126 in March.

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.  February saw just 1 car being sold and March this number tripled to 3 cars.  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.  February sales came in at an estimated 240 cars and in March sales increased to an estimated 355 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 begun shipping again and are expected to begin arriving in dealerships around April 17.  As a result, no sales of the Pacifica Hybrid were recorded in March.


December sales of the Hyundai Sonata PHEV were 325 cars which was the second best sales month for this car, being beaten only by the 375 cars they sold back in July, 2016.  In January sales fell back to 190 cars and the fall continued in February with an estimated 175 cars sold.  Sales recovered somewhat in March climbing back up to 295 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.  In February things improved a little and 152 cars were sold and in March a further 171 cars left dealer lots.  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.  In February Kia sold an additional 85 cars.  In March sales fell back to 70 cars.  This is one of the few cars that sold less cars in March than it did in February.  It will be interesting to see how well this car sells in the coming months.


In total Kia managed to sell an estimated 241 plug-in cars in February.


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 after selling 56 cars in February.  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.  Previously in February 51 cars were sold.


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.  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.  I expect that this car will sell well if Mercedes-Benz can supply enough inventory to its dealers.


Overall Mercedes Benz sold a disappointing 174 Plug-in cars in March, the second straight month 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.


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 only 15 copies and February saw a bit of a rebound to 22 cars but then sales in March dropped to just 13.  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 and 3 sales in March.  It looks like the i-MiEV will continue to trade in the 1 to 10 car range going forward.


Plug-in car sales went exceptionally well in March with a 30% increase over March 2016.  This is in a month that has been difficult for carmakers who have almost all seen declining sales especially in the small car segment. 


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 Ioniq Electric, Cadillac CT6 PHEV, BMW 530e and Porsche Panamera 4 e-Hybrid should start to arrive in dealerships during April, and  sales of the Pacifica Hybrid are also likely to resume.  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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