At the suggestion of one of our writers, I’ve decided to create this page dedicated to monthly electric car sales reports (US electric car sales, China electric car sales, and Europe electric car sales for now). For 2016 electric car sales, head over to this page. Enjoy, and share with friends!
Once upon a time, there was an epic monthly sales battle in the US between the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt. They were neck and neck for ages, sometimes changing places several months in a row. Nowadays, the market is growing, and more relevant is probably looking at the Chevy Bolt, Chevy Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Ford C-Max Energi, Nissan LEAF, Toyota Prius Prime, and maybe BMW i3. The cars are in a similar price range and class, but each offers a unique mix of features and style. Importantly, they are also the models that are available “nationwide.”
For models like the Fiat 500e, Kia Soul EV, and Mercedes plug-in hybrids that are just available in a few states, we are going to step away from including them in monthly sales reports. We are also separating out Tesla sales since Tesla doesn’t report monthly numbers and there are so many factors that now make its monthly US sales figures too hard to estimate.
With all of that in mind, below are the big US electric car sales figures of the month, and I think the core finding is that leading plug-in hybrid models are still beating pure electric models.
Another interesting note, and I think the biggest surprise, is that Nissan LEAF sales are still holding up well despite the looming arrival of the Tesla Model 3 (and the ongoing rollout of the Chevy Bolt). In fact, LEAF sales were up 35% in April 2017 compared to April 2016!
It’s unclear how much production capacity GM has for the Chevy Bolt. The car has several months to go before it’s available nationwide, and we’ve gotten word that there is far more demand in some countries (like South Korea, where this wonderful commercial aired) than GM is able to supply.
So, core plug-in hybrid models may be beating core non-Tesla fully electric models at this point more because of production capacity issues than demand issues.
Either way, sales of these 10 plug-in models increased 42% in April 2017 vs April 2016. More dramatically, sales of these models were up 69% in January–April 2017 vs January–April 2016.
To repeat something I’ve noted in previous months, I think it’s interesting that Chevy Bolt sales and Toyota Prius Prime sales basically seem to have grown the pure EV and PHEV markets rather than eaten into other models’ sales. I think that gives more evidence to the claim that getting more EVs on the market in more classes (especially the SUV/CUV and pickup truck classes) and from more brands (there’s a lot of brand loyalty in the auto world) is one of the most important things needed to grow EV sales and clean up our deadly, cancer-causing air. If only more states were like California!
Check out the charts above (note that the embedded visualization at the top is interactive and you can change between the months) and the tables below. Then let us know your thoughts!
The European EV market had 29,000 registrations in March, up 30% over the same month last year, making it the third best month ever, only behind the incentive-inflated Decembers of 2015 (34,000) and 2016 (30,000). At this pace, the European EV market is set to reach the 300,000 units milestone by year end. Furthermore the EV market share now coasts at a record 1.5%.
The Renault Zoe remains Master in Command, but the Nissan Leaf is proving to be quite resilient (just as in the US EV market) and Tesla saw its usual last-month-of-the-quarter peak.
Looking at the monthly model ranking:
#1 Renault Zoe — “There’s no replacement for range” is the mantra for EVs, and the Zoe performance proves it. Thanks to the new ZE 40 version, the French hatchback reached 3,762 registrations in March, a new record for the stylish model. That means it won Europe’s “best seller” status in the first 3 months of 2017. Along with best-ever performances across Europe — like in its home market of France (1,980 registrations), Germany (587), and Sweden (93) — it also landed in markets outside its comfort zone, like Finland and Iceland.
#2 Nissan Leaf — Thanks to some deep discounts, the 6-year-old hatch has held back insurgencies from newer EV offerings, with registrations down only 3% YoY to 3,188 in March. With steady sales in its stronghold markets — like Norway, the United Kingdom, and France — and surprising performances elsewhere — like the 152 units moved in the Netherlands, 185 in Sweden, and a record 124 in Belgium — the veteran model is keeping momentum by appealing to a new demographic that is largely untapped by EVs: Bargain Hunters.
#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — After a tight race with the Nissan Leaf, the Japanese SUV ended March in 3rd place, with 3,129 sales across the continent. That is its best performance in over two years, though. Although growing in important markets — like Germany (358 sales, a new record) — Mitsubishi will have a hard time finding a replacement for all the United Kingdom sales it’s been enjoying (note that, from now on, incentives for PHEVs will become much less appealing there). Was March the Outlander swan song? It seems like it.
#4 Tesla Model S — Tesla had its best month ever in Europe last March, with over 4,000 vehicles being delivered. Despite dropping 18% YoY, the Model S managed to remain the best-selling Tesla, with 2,060 registrations, its best performance since the arrival of its Model X sibling. The Model S had good numbers especially in Germany, with 457 registrations, a new record and making it the #1 market in Europe(!), but the model also moved well in Norway (297), Switzerland (236), and the Netherlands (228). Looking ahead, expect deliveries to drop in April and another possible top 5 appearance next June.
#5 Tesla Model X — The (not so) surprising news of the month: Tesla’s SUV is finally finding its place in the market, reaching #5 in March thanks to 2,016 deliveries, a new European record for the fancy SUV. The result was inflated by Norway (446 registrations), but the model had good results across the Old Continent. Deliveries of the Model X in several markets were on par with or better than deliveries of its older brother, the Model S — that was barely the case in Belgium, for example (112 Model X vs 111 Model S). The X also saw a record performance (213 deliveries) in the all-important German market. With PHEV incentives becoming less generous as time passes by, expect many barge-SUV-tax-dodging buyers to drop their BMW X5s and XC90s in favor of Tesla’s SUV, maybe even in the near future.
YTD Ranking — Zoe Steady in #1, Nissan Leaf Climbs to #2
Looking at the YTD ranking, this month there were several significant changes, with the BMW i3 dropping two positions to #4, to the benefit of the Nissan Leaf (now in 2nd place), followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (#3). However, the #1 position remained stable, with the Zoe still on top.
Off the podium, both Teslas had a positive month, with the Model S climbing one position to #5 and the Model X jumping six places to #7. Other climbers were the Audi A3 e-Tron, up two positions to #13 (Audi can thank its domestic market for that) and several models that climbed one position — the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Audi Q7 e-Tron, and Nissan e-NV200. Someone had to fall for them to rise, of course, and that was the VW Golf GTE, which dropped three positions on the back of 245 registrations, its worst result in 29 months. VW accountants are desperately waiting for the restyled e-Golf to arrive (theoretically).
Underlining the positive momentum that pure electric cars are enjoying, BEVs represent once again the majority of sales in Europe, growing 10% in share from the 44% they reached last year to a current 54%. And that’s still without the Opel Ampera-e (Chevy Bolt in European clothing) and the new VW e-Golf, which are certainly two major players for the remainder of the year.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BMW (17%, down 2%) is seated in the top spot, followed by Renault (14%, down 2%) in second place. Meanwhile, February’s 3rd placed Volkswagen (8%, down 4%) was surpassed not by one automaker, not by two, but by three(!), as Nissan, Mercedes, and Tesla (all with 10% share) surpassed the almighty VW. Time to produce those restyled Golf plug-ins at full speed…
|Europe||March||YTD||EV Market Share|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||3,129||5,375||8%|
|Tesla Model S||2,060||3,715||6%|
|Volkswagen Passat GTE||1,127||3,562||5%|
|Tesla Model X||2,016||2,902||4%|
|Volvo XC90 T8||857||2,416||4%|
|BMW 225xe Act. Tourer||761||2,117||3%|
|Audi A3 e-Tron||698||1,498||2%|
|Audi Q7 e-Tron||427||1,027||2%|
|BMW X5 40e||573||1,394||2%|
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric||492||1,125||2%|
|Kia Soul EV||273||1,167||2%|
|Volvo V60 Plug-In||292||849||1%|
|Volkswagen Golf GTE||245||932||1%|
Gold & Bronze Win for BAIC
The Chinese market had more than 32,000 new electric cars zooming the streets last month, an 89% increase over the same month last year, with the annual growth rate now at 31%. The EV market share is firmly above the 1% barrier, at around 1.4%. As the year proceeds and sales expand, expect market share to rise above last year’s result (1.45%), maybe reaching north of 2% share, something the US is yet to do.
All this while 95% of the market continues to belong to domestic brands, and of the 5% left for foreign brands, 4% belong to Tesla, with the remaining 1% divided by all other automakers.
BAIC once again won the model and manufacturer titles in March. With lofty goals for this year (170,000 units!) it seems Beijing Auto will be a tough cookie for BYD to beat. …
Here are March’s top 5 best-selling models’ individual performance:
#1 — BAIC EC180: Winning the “Best Seller” status for the second month in a row, this little model is making a (small) earthquake on Chinese EV sales, and it should too, as this is probably the first (only?) little city EV that private buyers must be proud to have, with crossover-ish looks, decent specs, and an attractive interior/equipment. The 3,605 units sold last month are proving this model is here to stay and is leading the ranking with full merit …
#2 — Zhidou D2 EV: … The same can’t be said about this little bugger, a bare-basics city vehicle that probably doesn’t inspire anyone to want one. Nevertheless, they continue to be sold in large quantities (3,593 units in March), possibly due to a combination of bargain-basement prices and some big fleet deals.
#3 — BAIC EU260: A major player last year, when it reached #5, BAIC’s middle-of-the-road electric sedan had its best performance of the year last month, with 2,608 units sold. It’s now looking to recover lost sales.
#4 — SAIC Roewe eRX5: This PHEV SUV could be to SAIC a bit like what the Tang was for BYD a while back. By delivering 2,478 units in only its third month on the market, it set a new monthly record for any SAIC model, so it seems this rather handsome and trendy compact SUV is set to become Shanghai Auto’s best-selling plug-in car, and possibly one of the best sellers of the year.
#5 — Geely Emgrand EV: Another electric compact sedan to succeed, Volvo’s owner Geely Emgrand EV returned to the market with a bang, jumping to #5 in March with 1,804 units sold, a 218% increase YoY.
In the top positions, there weren’t many changes in March, with the most important involving SAIC models — the Roewe eRX5 jumped seven positions to #4, becoming not only the best-selling plug-in hybrid, but also the highest ranked SUV; while its sedan relative, the Roewe e550, was down four places to #7. Is this sudden fall due to production constraints (floor priority to the eRX5), or is demand just not there anymore?
Crossovers and SUVs are the hottest automotive trend in China, and the plug-in market follows suit, as it wasn’t only the eRX5 to climb in the ranking — the BYD Tang is slowly stepping up production, climbing one position to #6 in March.
The slow production ramp up of BYD is making itself known, now with three models in the top 10 after the Qin EV300 shot 11 positions to #9. The Qin EV300’s less fancy relative, the e5, also climbed significantly in the ranking, jumping seven positions to #10.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BAIC stays firmly in the lead, with 23% market share, now followed by a recovering BYD (16%), but also by SAIC (12%), which is starting to look like this year’s dark horse brand among Chinese EV makers.
|2||Zhidou D2 EV||3,593||5,799|
|4||SAIC Roewe eRX5||2,478||3,217|
|7||SAIC Roewe e550||260||2,338|
|9||BYD Qin EV300||1,678||2,046|
|11||Geely Emgrand EV||1,804||1,903|
|15||Zotye Cloud EV||0||1,525|
|16||Tesla Model X||850||1,524|
|17||Changan Benni EV||993||1,408|
Aside from Tesla topping the US electric car sales chart (and my postulations about that), there were some other interesting stats and takeaways from March US electric car sales.
The first big one that stands out to me is that the Nissan LEAF freakin’ beat the Chevy Bolt! I don’t think any of our readers would have predicted that a year ago. Naturally, lack of production capacity or supply must be part of this. I think. GM must have much, much higher demand for the Bolt than ~1000 cars a month. Right? …
On the flip side, it’s quite impressive to me that Nissan logged 1,478 sales of the LEAF. With the Bolt here (even if in limited supply) and the Tesla Model 3 just around the corner, Nissan must be doing something very right to still move 1,500 LEAFs a month. Is it word of mouth? Is it people who are not typically early adopters or very connected to the auto or EV world talking to LEAF drivers like my mom and deciding they want a LEAF? Is it Nissan offering great discounts to targeted markets?
The “Big 3” of plug-in hybrids — Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Prime, and Ford Fusion Energi — continue to do quite well for consumers looking for something that offers electric city driving but also gas backup for longer trips or busy days. The Ford C-Max Energi and BMW i3 hung a bit lower in March, due to relatively wide availability, unique features, and moderate consumer interest.
For the 1st quarter of 2017, the story is more or less the same, but the Bolt is slightly above the Fusion Energi (instead of vice versa) and the C-Max Energi is slightly above the i3 (instead of vice versa).
For the market as a whole, due to much higher sales of Tesla’s two models, the arrival of the Chevy Bolt (which seems to just be adding to the total rather than stealing from the Nissan LEAF and others), the arrival of the Toyota Prius Prime (which, again, seems to basically be growing the market), and slightly better figures from several models, we saw strong EV sales growth in March and the 1st quarter as a whole.
- All plug-in car sales were up 89% in March and 74% in the 1st quarter.
- Fully electric car sales were up 134% in March and 87% in the 1st quarter.
- Plug-in hybrid car sales were up 40% in March and 58% in the 1st quarter.
- US electric car sales = 1.2% of all US car sales, a new record for the US EV market.
Rolling through another month of US electric car sales, I’m struck again by how much a few models dominate sales. Actually, I’m struck by how much Tesla’s two high-end (expensive) cars dominate US electric car sales.
Before I go further, I should note that Tesla’s sales numbers are not official — they are estimated based on Tesla’s quarterly sales statements, previous statements about how sales split out by region, Tesla sales figures from other regions, and varying assumptions regarding month-to-month shipments. This is why you find considerable differences in the sales estimates of different EV sales aggregators/reports. Nonetheless, the overall point is the same — Tesla accounts for a huge portion of US electric car sales. Doesn’t dozens of electric models from other automakers (most of which are much more affordable), nearly half of US electric car buyers are buying a Tesla Model S or Model X.
Looking at March figures, Tesla accounted for 45% of US electric car sales. Looking at the quarterly split is probably more reasonable, though, given shipment patterns. The result there is 38%. Either way, approximately 4 out of every 10 electric car sales are high-end Teslas, and that’s a rather shocking result — even to a Tesla fanboi.
There have been many, many discussions about why Tesla is an EV leader (or the EV leader), and why other automakers seem to be trailing so much, but I don’t recall putting all of the below factors together in one single article that tries to explain why Tesla is absolutely dominating an electric car market with only 2 models out of the 40+ that are on the market … so here we go.
1. At the core, the main issue is probably that automakers don’t want to see a swift transition to electric vehicles. They want to drag the transition out. A swift transition to electric vehicles is a financial threat to big automakers. If that premise is correct (and it seems it must be), that’s part of the explanation for the remaining points.
2. Battery supply is key to production capacity, and one known factor limiting production and thus sales of several electric car models is simply battery supply. Fully electric cars require a lot of batteries. While automakers may be working to some limited extent with battery suppliers to ramp up production for greater EV demand, Tesla is the only one that has clearly taken the reins and guided Panasonic into a gigantic joint project to ramp up battery production/supply. It’s partly Tesla’s continuous aggressive focus on ramping up battery supply that has allowed it to sell so many Model S and Model X premium electric vehicles.
3. Other production constraints? Some automakers (most automakers?) also have other production constraints for their electric models — whether it be supply constraints for other components or simply lack of capacity for these models on their production lines. I recall Ford emphasizing that it has the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi worked into the production lines of their non-plug siblings in a way that allows them to ramp up production of these plug-in models if demand asks for it. That was something Ford emphasized as a benefit of its approach compared to the approaches of some other automakers. Indeed, Ford’s Energi models are routinely near the top of the EV sales charts. That said, however, I’ve heard of non-California dealers saying that they couldn’t get these models on their lots because California was getting them all. (Obviously, California doesn’t get all of them, and the dealer could just be making things up, but the excuse was clear — there wasn’t enough supply to share the models en masse beyond California.)
4. Range, range, range: People who buy plug-in cars want to be able to drive on electricity as much as possible, but they also want to be able to drive long distances — sometimes spontaneously — without concern about having a place to recharge. Plug-in hybrids have been an attractive transition vehicle for many, but their appeal is limited simply by the fact that they have quite limited electric range. (Note that the plug-in hybrid with the most electric range by far — the Chevy Volt — has been the best seller in this category by far.) The Chevy Bolt has arrived as the first “affordable” long-range fully electric car on the market, but it is apparently still hampered by limited production capacity, as well as the next point.
5. Superfast charging. Automakers typically hype the “fast charging” capability of their EVs (if they have the capability), but the reality is that this “fast charging” is still quite slow and is typically impractical for a genuinely long-distance trip. Furthermore, non-Tesla fast charging networks don’t adequately cover many routes drivers need to travel along (especially combined with relatively limited battery capacity/range). The Chevy Bolt is the first non-Tesla fully electric car in the US that could conceivably be a convenient road trip car, but it isn’t without superfast charging. With current fast charging, someone would basically spend about 1/3 of their trip charging (for example, a 10 hour drive would take ~15 hours). And that’s presuming there’s adequate charging capability along the route in the first place. Superfast charging is critical to many EV buyers, and only Tesla has offered it so far. Dive into this EV charging 101 for a better understanding of the different capabilities.
6. Mission is an important matter to many people buying electric cars because of climate, oil supply & national security, and health concerns. Tesla’s 100% electric, cleantech, revolutionary mission and spirit is a draw to many EV buyers. Other automakers can’t really compete here. Their business for decades has been selling gasmobiles, and many of them haven’t even been keen to sell more efficient models. They are more than happy to produce, market, and sell high-profit gass guzzlers. Consumers who despise that have been happy to shift their money over to a 100% cleantech company.
7. Brand is a related matter, but one in this case that provides a great complementary audience to the audience pulled in by the cleantech mission. Tesla has worked hard to makes its brand something that appeals to the masses — not just the people deeply concerned about climate change, oil dependency, and air pollution. Its brand is now connected to superfast cars, cool tech, the future, prestige, and strong business ethics.
Insane Ludicrous acceleration records, industry-leading Autopilot, the best infotainment screen in a car by far, over-the-air software updates, special features like falcon-wing doors and self-opening doors, Apple-like stores, and record safety scores have all contributed to this strong branding.
8. Maximized vehicles that play to the strengths of electric vehicles and minimize their downsides is another key matter. In the end, Tesla’s models don’t just compete with gas cars in their price range — they outcompete them on several key metrics. They are generally more compelling vehicles than gas cars that cost the same amount. This is why the Tesla Model S has become the top-selling car (of any kind) in its class, and I think the Model X will get there in its class as well. Part of this might be due to Tesla just doing a better job than its conventional auto counterparts, but part of it was probably also Tesla trying to do better — trying to create a fully electric car that strongly outcompete gas cars in its class. Naturally, that’s been very difficult at lower price points due to battery prices, but that’s precisely why Tesla started in the premium classes.
9. Auto dealers are clearly another bottleneck in the EV sales funnel. Much has been written about this, so I won’t say too much, but the summary points are that most auto dealers have little or no interest in selling EVs, there are actually financial reasons auto dealers would sensibly deter consumers from buying electric cars, and dealership salespeople are almost guaranteed to be ill informed about the EV models they sell and EV life. Tesla salespeople — that’s a whole different story.
Typically, expensive vehicles don’t account for a large portion of any car market (maybe they do in Liechtenstein), so it’s a bit odd on the surface to see the premium-class Model S and Model X dominating the electric car market.
Hopefully the above helps explain the EV market a bit better. Several questions remain. What will the Tesla Model 3 (and Model Y) do to this market? When will conventional automakers have EVs that don’t suffer from the issues noted or implied in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and maybe 8th points above? When will they create fully electric cars in the country’s most popular classes?
More thoughts on March electric car sales numbers are coming in a second article on these figures.
The European electric car market had over 16,000 registrations last month, up 20% over February 2016, with YTD numbers up 38% year over year (YoY). The market is set to surpass 300,000 units (on track for 310,00) by year end. While the electric car share is firmly north of the 1% mark in the broader car market, this growth is in no small part due to a refreshed fully electric model, one that’s just gotten a 40 kWh battery.
Looking at the Monthly Models Ranking …
#1 Renault Zoe — After a few months delay on the delivery of the new battery, the French hatch’s deliveries have skyrocketed since December, and February was no exception, with registrations up 74% YoY to 2,828 for the month as a whole. With sales in its domestic market and Norway in full swing, it was the performance in Germany (431 units) that surprised this time, delivering the Zoe’s best result in over a year.
#2 BMW i3 — Proving that there’s no replacement for range when it comes to fully electric cars, the BMW hot hatch is up 85% YoY in Europe, all thanks to the 33 kWh battery kick. Sales in February reached 1,455 units, with an interesting twist: While in the past the extended-range version outsold the pure electric one, the new battery significantly changed the mix. Last month, the fully electric version represented 78% of all i3 deliveries.
#3 Nissan Leaf — If recently upgraded EVs are stealing the headlines, the fact is that the daddy of them all is still around and had another good sales month in February, this time reaching 1,327 registrations in order to take home the silver medal. With sales up 5% this year, the Nissan model is here to stay, with good numbers in many markets, namely Norway (408 units), France (277), and Germany (117).
#4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — After a tight race with the VW Passat GTE, this Japanese SUV won 4th place, with 1,130 registrations, becoming also the best-selling plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in February. Once ruler of the European market, the Outlander PHEV’s sales have been slipping for a long time (down another 12% last month). Although registering positive results in a couple of markets, like 164 units in Germany, Mitsubishi hasn’t found a way to stop the bleeding, no doubt derived from an increasingly larger number of competitors and cuts in PHEV benefits in some countries.
#5 VW Passat GTE — This Volkswagen midsize offering continues to have a frequent presence on this list, this time reaching the 5th place, thanks to 1,070 registrations. With the all-important Estate version profiting from almost nonexistent competition, the Passat GTE has a big following in Norway and Sweden, landing 48% of its sales in those two Scandinavian countries. Now, imagine how many sales Volvo is losing by not offering a PHEV version of its V90 estate.
YTD Ranking — Renault Zoe Leads, Mercedes GLC350e Shines
Looking at the YTD ranking, the top 5 positions remained the same, with the Outlander PHEV recovering a little (60 units) and creating a little distance over the #4 Passat GTE.
Below the first positions, several changes occurred, with the Tesla Model S (829 units, up 48% YoY) climbing one position to 6th and the Mercedes GLC350e jumping two positions to #8, all while again breaking again its personal best, with 725 deliveries. (Will we see the GLC350e reach four digits in March?). In the meantime, the GLC350e’s sibling, the C350e, was down to #10, due to a slow month of just 432 registrations, its worst result in 16 months. I wonder where these sales have gone…
Elsewhere, the BMW 330e rose one position to #11, while the Kia Soul EV jumped three places to #12.
On the losers side, we have two recently arrived models. For one, there’s the Hyundai Ioniq Electric (145 units, worst result in four months), which is down three positions to #17. Additionally, the Tesla Model X dropped two positions to #13, with half of the numbers of its Model S sibling.
With reservation deliveries now out of the way, it seems the new Tesla isn’t in so much demand as its older brother, with the SUV only solidly outselling its older brother in three countries (Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg).
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, trophy bearer BMW (19%, down 2%) is leading the way, but hot on the heels of the Zoe success, #2 Renault (16%, up 1%) is approaching. Volkswagen (12%) is keeping #3 at a safe margin ahead of Mercedes and Nissan, both with 10% share.
|Audi A3 e-Tron||420||800|
|Audi Q7 e-Tron||201||600|
|BMW 225xe Act. Tourer||664||1,356|
|BMW X5 40e||300||821|
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric||145||633|
|Kia Soul EV||472||894|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||1,130||2,245|
|Nissan e-NV200 / Evalia||255||587|
|Tesla Model S||829||1,654|
|Tesla Model X||305||886|
|Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV||489||1,558|
|VW e-Golf (VII)||299||572|
|VW Golf GTE||295||687|
|VW Passat GTE||1,070||2,432|
The Chinese market had more than 16,000 new EVs zooming the streets last month, a 55% increase over the same month last year, so it looks like the January standstill is a thing of the past and we are back at business as usual in China’s EV market.
With year-to-date sales still 3,000 units behind last year’s result, this market needs to make up for the lost time and resume the 30% growth path won last year.
All this while 95% of the market still belongs to domestic brands. For the record, of the 5% left for foreign brands, 4% belongs to Tesla and 1% is for the remaining automakers.
Interestingly, despite the EV market becoming alive last month, China’s sales champion, BYD, had another disappointing performance, to the benefit of an ever stronger BAIC.
Here are the February top 5 best-selling models’ individual performances:
#1 – BAIC EC180: The little hatchback saw 2,800 registrations in February, confirming itself as a strong contender for the “2017 Best Seller” status and winning for the first time the “Monthly Best Seller” trophy (in only its third month on the market). Beijing Auto must be happy with its electric baby, the first of a slew of new models coming from a dedicated EV platform. Yes, BAIC is not kidding around anymore.
#2 – Zhidou D2 EV: The tiny “car” continues its success story in the EV market into 2017, with 2,206 registrations in February. It looks like small EVs won’t actually go away anytime soon…
#3 – Zotye Cloud EV: A top 10 player last year, Zotye’s small EV logged 1,525 sales in February, and is now looking to recover lost sales in order to beat last year’s numbers, when this tiny five-seater saw 16,417 deliveries.
#4 – Zotye E200: This electric model is essentially an electric China-made Smart beater, and for 70,000 Yuan ($10,100), you get quite a lot: 80 hp engine, 120 km/hour top speed, 24.5 kWh battery, 220 km range …Not bad, eh? Anyhow, the Zotye E200 got 1,142 registrations last month, making it one of the strongest candidates for the “Best Selling City Car” trophy.
#5 – SAIC Roewe e550: The plug-in hybrid electric sedan reached the top 5 ranking once again in February. After securing the best-seller status in a strange January, the e550 was 5th in February, with 1,122 registrations, a 172% increase YoY and promising to be a tougher cookie to beat this year than in the past.
Year-to-Date Ranking – BAIC EC180 New #1
In the top positions, BAIC EC180 jumped to the leadership, while the Zhidou D2 EV came out of nowhere (literally nowhere, 0 registrations) to 2nd place, dropping last month’s winner, SAIC’s E550, to 3rd.
Other models climbing in the ranking were two Zotyes — the #5 Cloud EV and #6 E200 — with the best-selling BYD, the Tang SUV, climbing one position to 7th.
Worthy mentions go to the SAIC Roewe eRX5, #11 with 739 units, and another local-made crossover, the BAIC EX200, now #13. A new trend for 2017?
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BAIC is the surprise leader, with 24% market share, followed by Zotye (17%) and SAIC Roewe (15%).
|2||Zhidou D2 EV||2,206||2,206|
|3||SAIC Roewe e550||1,122||2,078|
|5||Zotye Cloud EV||1,525||1,525|
|9||Zotye TT EV||979||979|
|10||BAIC EU260 / D50 EV||101||913|
|11||SAIC Roewe eRX5||608||739|
|12||Tesla Model X||50||674|
|14||SAIC Roewe e950||244||594|
|15||Lifan 330 EV||125||466|
|16||Changan Benni EV||213||415|
|20||BYD Qin EV300||368||368|
US electric car sales jumped approximately 68% in February 2017 vs February 2016. Fully electric car sales were up 74%, while plug-in hybrid sales were up 61%. For the first two months of the year, that puts all plug-in car sales up 64%, fully electric car sales up 57%, and plug-in hybrid sales up 72%.
Naturally, one of the standout points this month is that my estimates for Tesla Model S and Model X sales put the two high-end EV models in first and second place. They were followed by two plug-in hybrids that have fairly broad availability (theoretically) — the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Prime.
Toyota Prius Prime numbers were almost identical in January and February, which backs up our finding that the model is production limited versus demand limited. One has to wonder how much demand there would be for the model if it weren’t production limited and Toyota was really pushing it.
Surprisingly, Chevy Bolt sales fell down a little bit in February versus January. The Bolt is still production limited itself, but one would think GM is ramping up production capacity as quickly as possible. Perhaps carryover deliveries in January from the holidays or regulatory holdups in certain places are why January saw more sales — or perhaps it’s just that February is a shorter month.
In the end, the sub-1000 Bolt delivery total meant that the Nissan LEAF — which is holding on surprisingly well — logged one more month ahead of the Bolt.
Of course, after those top 6 models, Ford’s two Energi models (Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi) held a solid lead over the rest of the pack. We long thought the Energi models were available nationwide, thus accounting for their steady sales in the top 10. However, it turns out they’re hard to get a hold of even in EV-loving Florida. Though, Ford’s electric cars are still available much more broadly than most compliance cars, and quite loved by their owners.
In total, those top 8 models accounted for 82% of the EV market. The top 6 models accounted for 71% of the market.
Overall, electric cars accounted for 0.95% of the US auto market.
Note: US electric car sales reports are getting tougher and tougher. Some companies don’t report their electric car sales, but their numbers are surely jumping (Hyundai, Fiat, Chrysler …). Furthermore, Tesla keeps growing at an astounding pace, but it’s hard to have a great guess on the sales split between the US and the rest of the world. If you come across any useful official resources or statements for these challenges, please drop us a note!
The Nissan LEAF has over the past few years more or less dominated the market. Though, the first-generation Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (PHEV) had respectable sales as well — which makes the release of the Toyota Prius Prime (the second-gen PHEV version of the Prius) an important event there, market wise.
We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what the debut numbers for the Prius Prime are in Japan, though, as the most recent figures that we have for the Japanese electric vehicle market are for January 2017 (and the US apparently started receiving the new plug-in before Japan).
Japan’s January sales figures are interesting in their own right, though. Plug-in sales were apparently down around 48% year on year (as compared to January 2016). Altogether, only around 1,800 units were sold — making for a market share of 0.46% (of the total automotive market in the country).
That makes January 2017 the worst January for electric vehicle sales in Japan since back in 2012.
As noted by the EV Sales blog, the source of the data, this “doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how the two local heavyweights are behaving. The 30 kWh-kick effect has waned and the Nissan LEAF, the main driving force of the market, responsible for 78% of the market, has seen its sales slow down, so unless Nissan throws something new onto the table (40 kWh version, Gen 2 Leaf …), sales will continue to drop and the upcoming 2nd generation Toyota Prius PHEV will have the 2017 Best Seller trophy served on a silver platter. To worsen things, the emissions scandal is continuing to hurt Mitsubishi and its Outlander PHEV, with registrations down 76%(!) to 190 units last month.”
Something else to note here is that, as sales of the series hybrid version of the Nissan Note are quite good in Japan, that’s very likely the model that is siphoning some “green car” buyers from the LEAF.
As you can see in the figures posted here, beyond Nissan and Mitsubishi sales, the market is looking pretty dismal — with the remainder of buyers choosing BMW’s or Tesla’s electric offerings. Presumably, no other automakers feel compelled to offer electric vehicles in Japan.
While I’m curious to see what Toyota Prius Prime sales in the market will be like (probably very good), I’m also rather curious to see how the Tesla Model 3 does in Japan. Good sales seem likely, but who knows? …
|Model||January 2017||January 2016||YoY Change||% of EV Market — January 2017||% of EV Market — January 2016|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||190||801||-76.3%||10.2%||22.3%|
|Tesla Model S||15||25||-40.0%||0.8%||0.7%|
|Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV||11||23||-52.2%||0.6%||0.6%|
|Tesla Model X||5||0||–||0.3%||0.0%|
|Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV Truck||4||6||-33.3%||0.2%||0.2%|
|Toyota Prius Plug-In||0||46||–||0.0%||1.3%|
The Chinese market had 6,260 new EVs registered in January, far from the 15,275 units of January 2016, dragging down the plug-in market share (of new cars sold) to just 0.25% — far below the 1.45% of 2016.
Considering the seasonality of the Chinese PEV market, where the first quarter is always the slowest selling (due to the December sales rush and New Year holidays), a considerable month-over-month drop was already expected — for example, December 2015 electric car sales reached 35,000 before dropping to 15,000 in the following month. What surprised experts was the size of the fall — 6,260 units is setting back the market two years. The reasons for this unexpected drop will be explained below. For now, let’s focus on last month’s registrations by model.
In January, SAIC and BAIC took over the top positions. Tesla also moved up, benefitting from the local sales drought to post a best ever #5 position.
Here are last month’s top 5 best selling EV models:
#1 – SAIC Roewe e550: Shangai-based SAIC won its first monthly best seller trophy last month, thanks to 956 registrations of its e550, the plug-in hybrid version of Roewe’s Audi A4-sized 550 ICE model. This plug-in hybrid packs an 11.8 kWh LiFePO4 battery, delivering an all-electric range of 58 km (36 mi), for a price of CNY 249,000, or ~$36,200. Despite winning the yellow jersey in the first stage of the race, don’t expect this model to stay on top for long. Once the incentives effect wanes and BYD gets its act together, the e550 should be easily displaced from the podium, a bit like Mark Cavendish in last year’s Tour de France.
#2 – BAIC EU260: In the midst of the incentives drop, the BAIC EU260 got off to a good start, with 812 cars being delivered, winning a precious advantage over the BYD champs, something that could prove crucial in the final stages of 2017 (when racing for the yellow jersey). With a generous 41.4 kWh battery, 260 kilometers of range, and 136 horsepower pulling it to a 0–100 km/h acceleration of 9 seconds, it doesn’t have the sports sedan aspirations of the BYD Qin EV300, but it’s no slouch. Undercutting the aforementioned Qin EV300 by some 5,000 Yuan (CNY 255,000), this is one of the most serious candidates for the “2017 Best Seller” title.
#3 – BAIC EC180: After being shown last November, this little city car got off to a great start in December, seeing 4,128 sales. It registered another 724 registrations last month. The EC180 has the advantage of offering a faux-crossover look, okay interiors, and a usable 180 kms range thanks to a 20.3 kWh battery. BAIC has great ambitions for this car and is promising more models from the same platform. Now, about those subsidies…
#4 – JMC E100: If the Chinese government has its way, this is car representative of a dying breed, but the bargain-basement JMC E100 city car still managed to deliver 701 units in January, so these little buggers will probably keep on zooming around for quite some time.
#5 – Tesla Model X: Y’all know this one, right? With a number of logistical issues arising for Tesla in December, a sizeable number of Model Xs weren’t delivered until January. We estimate that the Tesla Model X had some 624 registrations in China last month, which together with the current incentives standoff helped the Californian SUV to reach the #5 spot in the Chinese PEV ranking, a best-ever position for a foreign model. Now, don’t you worry, Tesla shorts, this is most certainly a freak event and doesn’t mean that Tesla has finally broken the Chinese market.
Looking elsewhere, both SAIC and JMC placed a second model in the top 10, with Shanghai Auto pulling its e950 large sedan — a 289,000 Yuan ($42,000) PHEV based on the 2010 Buick Lacrosse(!) — to 7th Place.
But the real news are the low, low numbers of BYD models, with the #8 BYD Tang being the best of them. With only 278 deliveries, one has to go back 4 years to find such low numbers for the manufacturer. Rumors say that the Chinese manufacturer is preparing new batteries with a different chemistry (NMC?). Considering that BAIC and SAIC weren’t so affected by the incentives delay, it seems BYD took this waiting period to make big changes and pause manufacturing. We have to wait and see what the cause for this slump was, but we are contacting BYD about the matter to try to get more insight.
Looking at the January manufacturer ranking, the surprise leader is BAIC — 26% market share — followed by SAIC Roewe (23%) and JMC (18%).
Interestingly, Tesla (4th, 12%) ended the month ahead of BYD (5th, 9%), which says a lot about the strangeness of the current Chinese ranking. Then again, these are strange times…
Looking forward, the Chinese government set a goal of 2 million “New Energy Vehicles” (NEV = BEV + PHEV + FCEV) in 2020. Considering 2016 ended with a 1 million NEV fleet already, one would only need some 300,000 per year to reach the desired objective, an easy task.
But with subsidies set to be cut off by 20% each year and more demanding conditions applied (they must be safer cars, have larger range, and be more highway capable), a large portion of the market (e.g., ultra-cheap city cars) will suffer. They will struggle to have access to subsidies, but they are not completely alone, since regular EVs will also lose part of the price advantage given to NEVs by generous incentives.
The solution to offset the incentives cut will be dropping costs through scale, and that game can only be played by a number of OEMs — like BYD, BAIC, SAIC, and Geely.
Ultimately, the Chinese EV industry will benefit, because it will have fewer but stronger players, more ready to take on foreign manufacturers head on. But they will be sacrificing certain players on the way. What January showed us is that:
A) The market will become more concentrated, with the top manufacturers distancing themselves from the others.
B) Volume numbers will suffer, especially in the first quarter, with the remaining quarters probably recovering the lost time, but don’t expect the ludicrous growth rates of 100% or so of the past 3 years to be repeated in the short term.
|1||SAIC Roewe e550||956||956|
|2||BAIC EU260 / D50 EV||812||812|
|5||Tesla Model X||624||624|
|7||SAIC Roewe e950||350||350|
|10||Changan Benni EV||202||202|
The European EV market had some 19,000 registrations last month, up 31% year over year (YoY), with the Renault Zoe starting the year in the leadership position again.
#1 Renault Zoe – With the ZE40 version finally arriving to selected markets, registrations were up 80% YoY to 2,602 units, jumping straight into the leadership in January. It has already opened up an 800 car lead over the second placed BMW i3. Besides the expected good performance at home (1,646 units), the French hatchback also had good results in Norway (240 units), Germany (180), and Austria (104 units).
#2 BMW i3 – The popular German
Stormtrooper model continues to profit from the 33 kWh sales boost, this time with 1,818 units being delivered. Besides the usual boost from Norway, this time with 622 units, other markets where the Bimmer performed well were Germany (388 deliveries, up 160%!), the United Kingdom (210 units), and Austria (94). Interestingly, the fully electric version is outselling the range-extended version on a 3 to 1 ratio. Twelve months ago, most sales belonged to the REx version.
#3 Nissan Leaf – “Hey, remember me?” The old warrior still has an ace up its sleeve, called “Discounts.” While it may be getting long in the tooth, it is currently the only model offering generous discounts, wooing bargain-seeking buyers. In January, it delivered 1,386 units, seeing its sales increase 29% compared to the same month last year. This proves that, besides range, price is also a decisive trump card to win buyers.
#4 VW Passat GTE – The Volkswagen midsize offering had a better-than-expected result, with 1,340 units moved. Record results in Sweden (549 units) and Norway (411) absorbed most of the registrations, but Germany (157 sales) also saw a positive month. With the right mix of electric range, space, power, and price, the Passat GTE is a continuing success among company fleets across Europe.
#5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – This Japanese SUV started the year on the wrong foot, registering only 1,114 units, down 14% YoY. It failed to deliver in Norway (144 units, worst result in a year) and the United Kingdom (down a harsh 75%). The bright spot was Germany (282 units, best performance in 19 months), but it was unable to balance things. Still, the SUV pulled out a finish in the top five.
Volvo XC90 Up, xxx Down
Below the top five places, the Volvo XC90 PHEV had a surprising 52% jump in sales, to 1,035 units, surging to 6th place, while the #8 BMW 225xe Active Tourer (687 units) continued its positive sales trend and two rising SUVs — the #10 Mercedes GLC350e (629 units, new personal best) and #11 Tesla Model X (586 units, new off-peak record) — confirmed once again what we all have been suspecting — plug-in SUVs are a thing now.
On the losers side, even if the VW Golf GTE performance (406 units, worst performance in 3 years) is excused by the upcoming restyle, its Audi sibling, the A3 e-Tron, does not have any excuse to justify the rather disappointing 385 registrations. Or does it? Is Audi about to increase the battery size of its hatchback plug-in as well? It is based on the same drivetrain. Mmmm…
A relatively hot item is the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. If it weren’t for availability constraints, the Korean would probably already be in the top 10.
In the manufacturer ranking, BMW started where it left off last year — in the leadership position — with 21% share, followed by Renault (15%) in 2nd place and Volkswagen (12%) in 3rd. A surprise follows in 4th place — Mercedes showed up just below the podium with 10% share.
|Audi A3 e-Tron||385|
|Audi Q7 e-Tron||376|
|BMW 225xe Active Tourer||687|
|BMW X5 xDrive40e||495|
|Hyundai Ioniq Electric||474|
|Kia Soul EV||422|
|Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||1,114|
|Tesla Model S||819|
|Tesla Model X||586|
|Volvo V60 PHEV||325|
|Volvo XC90 T8||1,053|
|Volkswagen Golf GTE||406|
|Volkswagen Passat GTE||1,340|
US electric car sales continue to climb to new heights in 2017. Growing 59% year over year (YoY), approximately 12,000 electric cars were sold across the country in January, accounting for approximately 1% of US auto sales.
The top five models accounted for approximately 40% of total US electric car sales, as most models are still compliance cars that are not designed or marketed to really pull in buyers — and aren’t even available in most states.
Essentially, Tesla and GM are pulling the market forward. The Toyota Prius Prime, though, is a top-of-the-line Prius that is fairly widely available, is building off of the popular Prius name and reputation, and is genuinely cost-competitive with (a better deal than) a conventional Prius — especially once you take the US federal tax credit into account.
The Nissan LEAF — introduced all the way back in 2011 — is still hanging in well above the crowd as well, though. Again, its success relative to other models is quite simply due to its wide availability, the fact that it was designed to be a competitive electric car from the ground up, and some decent marketing/promotion.
Most of the remaining models on the market are hard to find outside of California and Oregon, which makes any evaluation of the “US” EV market still a bit odd. Can you imagine how the Ford F-150 would do if it were only offered in one or two states?
The chart above and tables below provide plenty of information to examine and ponder, but here are some bullet-point highlights as well:
- Electric car sales of all types (fully electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric cars) were up 59% YoY.
- Plug-in hybrid sales were up 86% YoY.
- Fully electric car sales were up 41% YoY.
- The Chevy Volt saw a 62% YoY sales increase, and accounted for ~8% of US electric car sales.
- The Tesla Model S and Model X accounted for 10% and 8% of US electric car sales (respectively), according to our estimates.
- The Chevy Bolt is hopefully still very production limited, as ~1200 monthly sales is well below expectations. Given limited geographic availability, though, it seems most logical that the model is still heavily production limited for some reason — such as lack of battery supply.
|Audi A3 e-tron||387|
|BMW X5 xDrive40e||262|
|Chevy Spark EV||4|
|Ford C-Max Energi||473|
|Ford Focus Electric||56|
|Ford Fusion Energi||606|
|Kia Soul EV||117|
|Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid||177|
|Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid||2|
|Tesla Model S (est.)||1900|
|Tesla Model X (est.)||1500|
|Toyota Prius Prime||1366|
|Volvo XC90 T8||96|
|All EVs Total||11256|
|100% Electric Total||6293|
|US Car Sales||1,147,557|
|Electric % of US Sales||0.98%|