2016 Electric Car Sales Predictions

2016 looks like it will be an interesting year for electric car sales. We have some significantly upgraded versions of the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, as well as several new entrants to the market — such as the Tesla Model X, the Chevy Bolt later this year, the Volvo XC90 T8, the Volvo S90 T8, the Hyundai IONIQ, and heck, maybe even the BMW i5 and electric Aston Martin Rapide (I know, I’m dreaming there).

BMW i8 eDrive Tech Now In The BMW X5 With eDrive
Image: Screenshot of BMW video

At the end of 2015, we saw the BMW X5 xDrive 40e come in with some fairly strong numbers, LEAF sales still down a great deal from their highs earlier in the year, Chevy Volt sales ramping up but still not stellar, BMW i3 sales looking quite solid, and Tesla Model S sales crushing it. Which of those trends will transfer into the new year, and hold throughout the year?

I’m very curious to see the discussions and projections that get dropped in the comments under this article, and I’ll stick my neck out there to kick things off with projections regarding US sales.

BMW i3 Sarasota 1 copy
Photo by Cynthia Shahan

Starting with BMW, I’ll take a guess that…

  • BMW i3 sales will average ~900 a month in 2016
  • BMW i8 sales ~500
  • BMW X5 xDrive 40e sales ~700.
vw e-golf
Photo by Volkswagen

Heading over to Audi & Volkswagen, I’ll project…

  • ~700 a month for the A3 e-tron
  • ~400 for the VW e-Golf.
Nissan LEAFs 3 copy
Photo by Cynthia Shahan

I think Nissan will still suffer to regain strong sales of the LEAF, due to the Chevy Bolt being around the corner…

  • the LEAF will = ~1,000 a month is my wild guess.


Ford Fusion Energi 6
Photo by Cynthia Shahan

I think Ford will continue to see solid but not spectacular sales of its plug-in hybrid models…

  • Ford Fusion Energi ~900
  • Ford C-MAX Energi ~700.
2016 Chevy volt
Photographer unknown

I think GM will have a great year with…

  • ~3300 Chevy Volts sold a month, on average
  • ~2000 Chevy Bolts a month once the car is on the market for a full month (assuming that happens in 2016), with some supply limitations initially, but not too much so.
Tesla Model Ss Florida
Photo by Zachary Shahan

Regarding the big dog, I’ll project Tesla hit…

  • ~1700 Model S sedans per month (just in the US, remember)
  • ~1700 Model X SUVs per month.

I think Tesla will remain a bit supply limited.

I don’t feel comfortable projecting Volvo or Hyundai sales until I have a better sense of how widely these companies look to sell their vehicles (or if they will be very limited compliance cars). I also have little interest in projecting sales for various other compliance cars, like the Kia Soul EV and Fiat 500e. I realize I included Volkswagen and Audi’s seemingly compliance cars, but I’m hoping these will be spread a little more widely in 2016… admittedly, more hoping than expecting.

But that’s it for my intro — what do you think US electric car sales will look like in 2016?!

21 thoughts on “2016 Electric Car Sales Predictions

  1. I think you’re underestimating the power of Bolt. If what Chevy says is true that 0-60 is under 7 seconds, that’s almost as quick as BMW i3 (quicker than Rex) for less money and 2.5 times the range.

    My prediction is that almost every EV above $25K post subsidy other than Tesla P and X will suffer due to Osborne effect, maybe all EV. I’d even go as far as to say many gas cars and hybrid of about $25K will suffer waiting for Bolt. Why buy 10 sec hybrid or gas turtle when Bolt is only bit more? The problem will be that Chevy won’t be able to make them fast enough to meet the demand, making overall EV sales to be lower.

    Compounding the problem will be Tesla model 3 announcement.

    1. Just imagine the resale value of a bmw i3…. I agree that the Osborne effect will be substantial, I would even argue that it is already seen.

      1. i’m seeing 2014 model i3s going for $25K. I bet they hit $15K by Jan 2017. Good bargain if u don’t need the range.

  2. If the bolt is as good as it promises and the supply can be kept up I think it will basically only be two suppliers on the market. Tesla and gm. For pure bevs. Peronally i really don’t se the reason to buy an vw e golf or bmw for the same money and less than half the range. It simply badly spent money.

    In short either bmw. Nissan and vw adjust their prices (substantially ), or they have to update their cars accordingly else they will simple be dead in the water.

    1. I think GM will have supply restrictions on the Bolt. As a result I think Nissan will make a decent showing with the new (longer range) Leaf, since they already have a fanbase — but I think Nissan *will* drop their price to retain market share.

      I think BMW will do OK in the PHEV market — might eat the whole PHEV market due to much nicer driving experience than the parallel hybrids — but they’re not really in the BEV market, are they? The range competes with the old Nissan Leaf, which won’t be attractive at the BMW price.

      1. The main problem with bolt is that they intentionally made it damaged goods by not doing the css standard. Granted it’s not a proper fast charging system, especially for such a lrge battery but it’s way better than nothing…. either they haven’t understood evs or they have done a calculation on what they can get away with. At the end of the day I will wait for the model 3. Currently it seems like teska is the only player that understands on how to do this right.

        1. To address neroden, BMW makes i3 and i8. i3 rex range is only about 150 miles. Bolt will kill i3 (in its current form), but probably not i8 the supercar.

          I absolutely agree Bolt is damaged good due to lack of fast charger, even if CCS comes as standard. 50kW CCS that Bolt will use is completely inadequate for “mass market EV” that needs an hour to drive 160 miles. Combined that with Bolt’s 200 HP that is on par with Ford Fiesta ST that only cost $22K, and Bolt is pretty lousy. However, Bolt is great compared to existing EV, probably enough to kill many.

          I’m also anticipating Tesla 3. There’s more than one way to get 200 miles range, and I’m hoping Tesla does it right (ie. smaller battery, better aerodynamics). They already addressed the fast charge issue with superchargers (though I hate it being “free”), it’s just a matter of getting the price/performance right. Even with performance of SparkEV, getting 160 miles range (80%) in 15 minutes would be HUGE, if they could do it.


          1. Tesla is doing it right, including the free recharge which is just an absolute gem. I would expect about 60kw battery, it doesn’t make sense to go any smaller, especially as it will be a larger and heavier vehicle than the bolt, Its also beneficial for a lot of other reasons (battery life is one of them). A car is the dream of freedom for the large majority. You dont want to be inhibited by your car, and that where the current crop of evs fails other than teslas. Its nots important for the majority that a leaf covers their need for 90% of the time. It wont help them when they see that idea of going on that long cross country vacation they dreamt about. Their current gasmobiles offers them that ability regardless of if they use it or not. Such things are important and tesla seems to know that and acts accordingly. And their sales figures support them in their view.

          2. Bigger car doesn’t have to have bigger battery with better aerodynamics. Tesla doesn’t have to follow anybody, especially not existing gas cars. My blog post has more details of my wish.

            Bigger battery is not the way to go. That will require longer time to charge. What I’m hoping for is 15 minutes for 160 miles (80%) range, roughly 2 hours of driving with AC/heat, pretty much what gas car would do if one’s not wearing diapers. That works out to about 40kWh with 120kW supercharger.

          3. As long a s the size is there. I have three kids for instance…..frankly 7 think about 100 kw will be the standard 7n a few years. Jacking up the charger is comparatively easy if you work with buffer batteries and such. This is also needed for heavy vehicles like pickups u hauls and the like.

          4. Don’t forget: The very high starting torque of an electric motor needs to be distributed to all four wheels. Only that is technically correct. Hence, a good electric car has to have a four-wheel-drive with two or four motors. A two-wheel drivetrain is a wrong solution for electric cars and it seems that only Tesla knows this technical fact.

          5. You cant break the laws of nature. At highway speeds the main resistance will come from wind. and given the size of the car you will have a the frontarea you have. I don’t see it as realistically to shrink beneath 60 kwh even for a sub compact in order to get reliable 200 miles of range. charging is not really a problem, it just to crank up the power sufficiently.

          6. Drag coefficient has just as much impact as area (both linear). Current gas cars hover about 0.3 (or 0.34 for SparkEV). I suspect Bolt is similar. If Tesla can get it lower (say, 0.2), they can have the same frontal area and same range as bolt with 33% smaller battery. As an example, EV1 was 0.19.

            In addition, smaller battery would weigh less, also helping extend the range. And smaller battery would cost less. I point these out in my blog post why more efficient is better than brute force bigger battery.

          7. Sure drag is important. But a car is a compromise of many things. The tesla for instance alreadyhave a low drag. Similarly other types of cars for instance minivans pickups or similar will likely not break any records in that arena even if it can be improved. No I think larger battery sizes are here to stay and I would even go so far that 120-140 kwh will be standard in a few years. It has plenty of gode side effects as well, larger batteries doesn’t need to be cycled a s much and many times a 50% charge is sufficient meaning a low wear and tear while providing real omph for that rare long distance journey when it occurs. It will also allow for electric variant of heavier vehicles like minibans/busses, pickup trucks and so forth.

          8. If price (and weight) is no object, bigger battery isn’t an issue. But at $100/kWh that it’s projected to be for Li batteries, few will spend $12,000 to fix an EV with 120kWh battery for 10+ year old car. That’ll add more waste, both in resources (junked EV) and poor people unable to drive old EV who would have to rely on far more polluting gas guzzlers.

            There was an article about sodium batteries that may cost less. But as of now, I don’t think brute force bigger battery is the way to go. Tesla is a perfect example of this. Even Model S that has lower cd than Prius looks “sexier”. That’s why I say Tesla doesn’t have to follow gas car model, and they have the potential to do far better; I hope they do better.

          9. An EV with a 120kWh battery should last at least 8 years…(the batteries are warrantied for 8 yrs…unlimited miles)…I’m sure in 2024…battery prices will be even lower. I can see Tesla dropping a $5K battery into their 8 yr old car and reselling it.

          10. there’s also a cost issue. is it cheaper to use aluminum and carbon fiber to keep weight down or cheeper to add an additional 10KW/hr of battery? Oddly enough, I think in Tesla’s case, the latter might be cheaper for a variety of reasons.

          11. It is better to add battery in most cases. Lessens wear and tear on battery and gives better safety margins in most cases. Weight is always a factor that is very true, but given sound engineering standards it usually kept in check. That being said I will expect that we within 10 years likely will average around 150kwh in the car and that is likely to be a good optimum. It will be enough for all normal driving conditions including the extremes when you are towing, cross country driving or similar.

        2. I don’t know, I have a Nissan Leaf and never use fast (DC) charging. In fact, I almost never even use lvl2 charging.

          1. Yes I have never used DC charger on my leaf either. I think 200 miles range on Bolt will be super, but if GM gave choice, I would take 120-150 mile range version for lower sticker price. More battery always mean heavier cars (lower efficiency) as well as more expensive car. For EV to be cost competitive with gas cars, it needs to strike a balance between range and sticker price. Nissan may do this better than GM depending on what they bring out for 2nd gen leaf.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *