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!
Some 44,700 new electric cars started zooming the Chinese streets last month, which made July the second best month ever for the segment. The electric car market grew 37% compared to the same month last year. The sales also pulled the YTD count to over 227,000 units, up 40% year over year (YoY). Additionally, regarding overall stock, a notable milestone has been reached — over one million plug-in cars are now registered in China (from 2009 until now), making it the first market to reach a 7-digit figure. Chinese electric cars now represent 40% of all plug-car stock in the world (which is up to around 2.6 millions).
As consequence of all this, the plug-in car market share grew once again, this time to 1.6%, beating last year’s record (1.45%). As the year progresses and sales expand, expect the Chinese plug-in car market to surpass the 2% share.
This is still a highly protected market, where 93% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 7% left for foreign brands, 4% belong to Tesla, 2% to BMW, and the remaining 1% is divided by all other automakers. Interestingly, the Buick Velite 5 (a thinly disguised Chinese Chevrolet Volt) was for the first time the best-selling foreign nameplate in China in July, with 382 units delivered.
In July, the much awaited BYD Song PHEV won its first best-selling award, with over 5,000 deliveries, beating both the Zhidou D2 EV and the BAIC EC-Series. With that boost, BYD itself has beaten for the second time in a row the all-time manufacturer sales record, registering 11,207 units in the month. Stepping up the pace, it is increasing the distance between it and runner-up Beijing Auto.
Here’s more on July’s top 5 best-selling models and their individual performance:
#1 — BYD Song PHEV: This is BYD’s “Model Y,” a VW Tiguan-sized SUV, here in plug-in hybrid version (the BEV had 1,500 deliveries in July, its first full sales month). In only its third full sales month, it registered 5,069 units, the second-best score ever for a BYD model — the Tang still holds the record of 5,503 units (set back in December 2015), but that will probably being beaten this summer.
This is a disruptive model. Why? It’s a plug-in SUV that goes 0–100 km/h in 4.9 seconds, and has a price tag of only $41,300 USD. … I believe the full potential of this version should be around 5,000–6,000 units/month. Adding some 3,000–4,000 units from the BEV version, it should be enough to have the Song reach the tune of 10,000 units/month, both versions counted. And these are 2017 targets — by 2018, BYD should have even more ambitious goals for it and new models to add to its lineup, but more on that below.
#2 — BAIC EC-Series: A consistent best-seller this year, the BAIC EC-Series, formerly known as EC180, sold 4,068 units in July. The little city EV seems to have found its natural sales level around 4,000 units per month, which is a bit disappointing, as this is a decent design with competitive specs (20 kWh battery) and price (€19,000). Will it be enough to win the 2017 Best Seller award? Doubt it, but if so, it would be a first for BAIC and the first time since 2013 that a BYD wouldn’t win the trophy.
#3 — Zhidou D2 EV: This is a bare-basics city vehicle that doesn’t inspire anyone, but continues to be delivered in large quantities (3,796 units in July), probably thanks to big fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a quadricycle (think Renault Twizy class) in some European countries. It has the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 kilometers of range, 90 km/h max speed, and all for some €16,000.
#4 — Chery eQ EV: The funky Chery eQ sold 3,264 units in July, allowing it to stay in the top 5. This is one of my favorite Chinese urban EVs. For €22,000 before incentives, you get a decently equipped city car with a 22kWh battery, with the only drawback being the weak motor (56 hp, 100 km/h top speed). Add a bit more power and you could have a valuable competitor to the current crop of worldwide city EVs — as the VW e-Up! is pricey, the Mitsubishi triplets are showing their age, and the Smart Forfour ED … well, looks too goofy for my taste.
#5 — BYD e5: The Plain Jane BYD e5 sedan continues delivering decent performances, with 2,946 units being registered last month. A favorite among taxi companies, along with its e6 older brother, the low-key e5 actually has a lot going for it: 305 kilometers of range from a 48 kWh battery and a healthy 218 hp, all for 230,000 Yuan ($33,400). A wolf in sheep’s clothing, isn’t it?
Year-to-Date Ranking – Hear That? It’s the Song Coming.
The big news in July was of course the rise and rise of the BYD Song PHEV, jumping four positions to #4, becoming at the same time the best-selling SUV and best-selling PHEV in the YTD ranking.
Expect in August that the Song will surpass its e5 sibling and reach the podium. As for the pole position, the difference could be too big to cut short, but with BYD, you never know, right?
The Chery eQ deserves a reference too, climbing two positions to #7. The Changan Benni EV also did well, joining the top 10 last month.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (21%, up 2%) is cementing its position at the Iron Throne, distancing itself from previous leader BAIC (17%). With Warp Speed now engaged, expect BYD to distance itself from the competition even further.
In 3rd place, we have Zhidou, with 10% share, but with SAIC now on its tail (9%, up 2%), it will be only a matter of time until the Shanghai-based manufacturer surpasses Zhidou in its bid to become the 3rd biggest of China’s “Big 3 PEV” club.
As a side note, if there were bets surrounding the global best-selling manufacturer in 2017, I would go with BYD. Yes, most are betting on Tesla. Yes, Tesla is ahead by 7,000 units. But I would still bet on BYD. Not only because of the Song twins, but in a couple of months, BYD will also launch the Yuan crossover (think Opel Mokka/Buick Encore) in both BEV and PHEV versions, adding some precious thousands of units to the current ones.
In 2018, again, the only company able to steal the show from Tesla will be … BYD. A new Tang and the Song MPV are scheduled for launch, adding even more volume to the company sales. I’m not saying BYD will, but it is the only company with enough pace to prevent Tesla from finally winning the Best Selling PEV Manufacturer trophy, something it has been pursuing without success since 2008.
Incidentally, this is the same number of years that the Boston Celtics have been without trophies.
Will both Tesla and the Celtics break the spell in 2018?
|China||July||YTD||EV Market Share YTD|
|1||Zhidou D2 EV||3,796||22,489||10%|
|4||BYD Song PHEV||5,069||11,907||5%|
|5||SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV||1,606||10,811||5%|
|8||Geely Emgrand EV||1,715||9,697||4%|
|10||Changan Benni EV||1,645||7,709||3%|
|14||Tesla Model S*||160||5,295||2%|
|15||Zotye Cloud EV||1,079||4,766||2%|
|16||Tesla Model X*||150||4,664||2%|
|17||BYD Qin EV300||145||4,262||2%|
In this section, we look at some of the cars landing in the previous month that have potential to reach the top 20:
GAC Trumpchi GE3 — Also known as just GAC GE3 at its 2017 NAIAS debut (apparently, they thought the “Trumpchi” name would damage the brand in US soil …), GAC has big ambitions for its GE3 model, its first dedicated BEV. Namely, it’s aiming at a 2019 arrival in the USA and other western markets, so its landing is a big deal, not only for the brand, but for the Chinese PEV market as a whole. Its price is set to start at around $30,000 USD. For that price, it offers a 50 kWh battery, enough for 310 kilometers of range, with 0–100 km/h being done in a reasonable 9.3 secs. With these specs, the compact crossover won’t have a problem with demand, but without major experience with plug-ins — in 2016 it only sold 3,000, all plug-in hybrids — GAC will have a hard time scaling up production. That makes a 200,000 target set for 2020 a bit hard to reach.
Geely Emgrand PHEV — Following on the success of the BEV version, the parent company of Volvo now has a PHEV version of its sedan (with 61 kilometers of range). It landed last month with 30 deliveries, no doubt demonstration units. With the BEV version being a regular among the best sellers, it won’t be a surprise if the new PHEV Emgrand reaches some 2,000 units/month. The thing is, sedans are losing ground to SUVs. Geely needs to follow the money, and right now, the money is in compact SUVs/crossovers (three of the top 6 models fall into this category). So, the automaker needs to launch a competitive model in that category if it wants to stay among the best.
Tesla Model 3 is here, and that has pushed me to again incorporate Tesla sales estimates into our monthly US electric car sales reports. Well, that and a repeated request from readers to bring back Tesla’s US sales estimates*.
Surprisingly — despite the ecstatic headlines about the car — the Model 3 isn’t yet #1! However, big sister Model S is, by a sizable margin.
The Chevy Bolt, with a record sales month, took the #2 spot, inching out my estimate for the Model X. After that, the plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius Prime and Chevy Volt round out the top 5.
Despite the addition of some extremely quick competitors on its track, the Nissan LEAF landed a healthy monthly sales total — still well above 1,000 cars a month — to take the #6 spot. After Ms. LEAF, the widely available yet less competitive (at least in consumers’ eyes) Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi, and BMW i3 took #7, #8, and #9, respectively. That said, the Energi models would theoretically surpass the Chevy Volt for the #5 spot if combined as one car.
In theory the Volkswagen e-Golf is #10 here, but there are actually over a dozen other plug-in cars on the market than reported here. They are basically compliance cars and are mostly plug-in hybrids with small batteries, but the core reason I don’t report them here is that the parent automakers don’t report them. Yes, I could put my blindfold on and try to estimate them (like I’m doing with Tesla sales), but I actually have a lot less info to go on for those models than for the Tesla models and, well, like I wrote, they are compliance cars with low sales — nothing like Model S and Model X sales.
Looking at July 2017 sales versus July 2016 sales, the sales of this group of fully electric cars were up 46%. Plug-in hybrid sales, meanwhile, were up 10%. Overall, that means the sales of these 14 plug-in cars were up 19%.
January–July 2017 vs January–July 2016, fully electric car sales were up 86%, plug-in hybrid sales were up 34%, and sales of all 14 plug-in cars were up 45%.
The year-to-date leaders are similar, but there are some notable differences. Yes, the Tesla Model 3 is again last. I wonder if that position will last through the end of the year. 😉 Similarly, the Tesla Model S is again far ahead at #1. Considered the best sedan ever mass produced, it’s not too surprising the Model S is doing so well — it’s deservedly crushing the broader large luxury car competition.
The Chevy Volt, another hyper-competitive car in its class, is sitting at #2, approximately 1,000 sales above the Tesla Model X. The Model X is much more slimly ahead of the Toyota Prius Prime, but with Tesla expecting a big boost in production and sales in the second half of 2017, I’m presuming it will pull away from the Prius Prime and maybe even pass up the Volt. We’ll see.
The Chevy Bolt is a significant step below the Prius Prime, but expect it to gain ground and maybe take the #4 spot — or even the #3 spot — before year’s end. Production keeps growing as availability across the United States expands.
As noted above, the LEAF keeps on truckin’ (or LEAFin’?) despite the much longer range but similarly priced Bolt and Model 3 arriving on the scene. Large discounts are presumably a key reason for that, but so is the LEAF’s early mover advantages, high customer satisfaction, word of mouth, and widespread availability.
Similar to the month of July, if you combine the Ford Energi models, they actually outsold the Chevy Volt. Not too shabby for some quite dated models, which are competing (to some degree) with the Volt (much longer electric range) and Prius Prime (a much bigger reputation for efficient, electrified driving).
BMW i8, BMW i3, and Ford Fusion Energi sales were down most notably in July and January–July. i8 sales could well be getting gobbled by the Model S (it’s just so much quicker and has such higher tech). The i3 is arguably the electric car most threatened by the Model 3 (even if it does have its own unique advantages and selling points). And the Fusion Energi is likely being harmed at the cash register by the new-ish Prius Prime and Volt. It’s hard to see any of these models picking up steam (er, electrons) without massive model year updates and/or price reductions.
Those are my key takeaways from July. Have more? Have predictions for what happens in August? Drop the comments down below.
*Tesla doesn’t publish monthly sales numbers and doesn’t break out sales by region/country. Nonetheless, Tesla sales elsewhere — particularly, in China and Europe — and occasional statements from Tesla CEO Elon Musk help us to estimate US monthly sales.
The European passenger plug-in market had a near-record month in June, with 28,000 registrations, up 54% over the same month last year. For the year through June, the market is up 30% this year, with the EV share now standing at a record 1.5%.
The Renault Zoe is a bit like cyclist Chris Froome — it seems no one can get the car out of the yellow jersey, with the French hatchback being once again the continent’s best seller. Tesla models profited from their usual last-month-of-quarter peak to climb a couple of positions in the ranking.
Monthly Model Ranking
#1 Renault Zoe — With quality glitches now a thing of the past, it was all hands on deck at Renault in June, with the French Zoe scoring a record 4,189 registrations, up 73% YoY, enough to win (for the sixth time in a row) the Monthly Best Seller trophy in Europe. Or all 2017 trophies … as Zoe nailed a number of individual performance records across Europe. The Zoe set records in Germany (680 sales), Norway (428 sales), Austria (237 sales), and Portugal (112 sales), all while managing to post a positive result in the all-important domestic market (France), with 1,882 sales.
#2 BMW i3 — This German hot hatch was up 161%, to 1,634 registrations, with 3 out 4 units sold being the fully electric variety — a great contrast with what happened 12 months ago, when the REx variety used to outsell the all-electric version. What extended range does, huh? Anyway, these were solid results for the BMW model, especially in Norway, which saw 420 sales, all of them being fully electric. The i3 also had a good final score in its home country of Germany (315 sales). Looking ahead, expect deliveries to slowly drop as people anticipate the revised version coming later in the year.
#3 Nissan LEAF — Thanks to deep discounting, the ageing hatch is resisting the newer offerings quite well, reaching 3rd place and even managing to grow(!) 4% YoY to 1,590 registrations. With steady sales in its stronghold markets (France, UK, and Norway) and increasingly significant sales in Sweden (123 units, up 112% YoY), the veteran model is keeping momentum by appealing to a new demographic — bargain hunters looking for the current best value for the money out there.
#4 Tesla Model X — Back in the top 5, the EV scene’s favorite SUV recorded 1,552 deliveries last month, managing to outsell for the first time in Europe its Model S brethren. Is the Model 3’s long shadow starting to dent Model S sales?
But I digress — back to the Model X. The largest market for the SUV/minivan-that-thinks-it’s-a-sports-car was Norway, with a record 609 deliveries (sarcasm mode on — “What a surprise!”). It also did well in Switzerland (156 deliveries), Germany (136 deliveries), and the Netherlands (121 deliveries). With this model not being directly affected by the Model 3 cannibalization effect or by close competition, expect the Model X to continue to be a regular here, being only limited by its (very) high price.
#5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — After a rare positive month in May, the Japanese SUV is back into a depressing sales trend, ending June with 1,435 registrations, down 8% YoY. Mitsubishi found a golden nugget in Scandinavia, more specifically Norway (349 deliveries) and Sweden (271 deliveries), but in the long run, it remains to be seen if that will be enough to keep this Japanese SUV among Europe’s top sellers.
YTD Ranking – Zoe Reinforces #1, Nissan LEAF Climbs to #2
Looking at the YTD ranking, the top positions remained stable, with the Zoe increasing its lead. The most notable changes were the Tesla Model S returning to the #5 spot and its Model X sibling climbing two positions to #8.
Other models on the rise are as follows:
The Audi A3 e-Tron, up one position to #11 thanks to 943 deliveries, its best this year.
The VW e-Golf, which was #6 in June thanks to a record 1,409 deliveries, allowing it to jump to #13 YTD. Comparing with the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, the new 36 kWh super-sized e-Golf outsold it in June on a 2-to-1 ratio, whereas last year it was the GTE outselling the 24 kWh e-Golf on a 2-to-1 ratio.
So, as with the BMW i3, the longer the range of the fully electric version, the higher the sales of the all-electric version (consequently dropping the sales of the plug-in hybrid or REx version).
Looking below the top 20, there are some hot sellers bubbling up, like the recently arrived Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid (510 units in June, a new record) and the Opel Ampera-e (Chevrolet Bolt in Euro-speak, registering 392 deliveries last month). Note that the Ampera-e deliveries totalled a drop in the ocean of orders that Opel has across the continent for this model (there are more than 4,000 orders in Norway alone).
One advice to GM: Instead of producing units mainly for California, only to win dust on local dealerships, why not start to allocate production for the orders already made in Europe? I know ZEV credits are nice and all that, but there are more ways to win money … and while you’re at it, in Canada, South Korea, and the rest of the US, there are also buyers waiting for months (years?) for their Chevy Bolt, you know?
Now is the time to see if The General walks the walk, or if it just talks, talks, talks.
|4||Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||1,435||9,294||7|
|5||Tesla Model S||1,373||6,580||5|
|6||VW Passat GTE||939||6,314||5|
|8||Tesla Model X||1,552||5,613||4|
|11||Audi A3 e-Tron||943||4,026||3|
|12||Volvo XC90 T8||638||3,940||3|
|14||BMW X5 xDrive40e||680||3,247||2|
|15||VW Golf GTE||743||3,195||2|
|16||Hyundai Ioniq Electric||529||2,664||2|
|18||Kia Soul EV||422||2,214||2|
|20||Audi Q7 e-Tron||417||2,019||2|
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BMW (20%) is comfortably seated on the top spot, followed by Renault (14%, up 1%) in 2nd place, while 3rd place is being hardly fought by Volkswagen (11%, up 1%), Nissan (10%, down 1%), Tesla (9%), and Mercedes (9%).
With the Wolfsburg brand now in #3 and making the restyled Golf plug-ins at full speed, expect it to race with Renault for the #2 position soon.
Looking at new models, the big news is the thundering arrival of the Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid, while the much awaited Hyundai Ioniq PHEV and Smart ED offerings have also just arrived.
Porsche Panamera PHEV — With 595 deliveries in June, by far the nameplate’s best performance ever (the previous record was 189 units), the second edition Panamera PHEV landed in Europe with a bang. The headlining news of the month for the model was that it hit 198 deliveries in Germany, or 46% of all Panamera deliveries that month. But record performances happened across Europe, so if these numbers are any indication of the future, this could be a disruptive model in its segment, and possibly even a serious sales competitor to the Tesla Model S, something unthinkable a couple of years back. This is also a good sign for the 2020 Porsche Mission E.
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV — This version of the Ioniq has been a long time coming. With Hyundai still flooded with orders of the fully electric version, the Korean carmaker finally decided to launch the PHEV version as well, recording 170 deliveries in its first sales month. With competitive specs and pricing, this will be another model whose success will be dictated by production constraints, something that unfortunately has become the norm among Hyundai-Kia plug-ins.
Smart Fortwo & Forfour ED — With several months of delay, we finally have the second-generation Smart Fortwo ED, this time accompanied by its 4-seater sibling, the Forfour ED. With similar specs as the first generation and still no fast charging, do not expect an EV revolution to come from here, but with a debut month of 424 units for the Fortwo ED (best result since December 2014) and 161 deliveries for the Forfour ED, a combined output of over 1,000 units per month is expected.
The Chinese market had more than 43,000 new EVs zooming the streets last month. With the market growing below expectations, at 16% YoY, this performance from China feels like when LeBron James scores 28 points in an NBA Finals game — it would be a great score for anyone else, but people expect more from the star of the team.
Anyway, the EV market share grew to 1.5% in China, already beating last year’s record (1.45%). Expect that as the year progresses and sales expand, the Chinese PEV market will surpass the 2% share by year end.
This is still a highly protected market, where 93% of sales belong to domestic brands. Of the 7% left for foreign brands, 6% belong to Tesla, with the remaining 1% divided by all other automakers.
In June, the Zhidou D2 EV was once again the best-selling model, surpassing BAIC’s golden boy EC180 for the lead in the YTD ranking, while BYD has beaten the all-time manufacturer sales record by registering 11,198 units last month, stepping up the pace and surpassing previous leader Beijing Auto in the best-selling manufacturer race.
Top 5 Best-Selling Electric Models in June
#1 – Zhidou D2 EV: This bare-basics city vehicle probably doesn’t inspire anyone, but it surely continues to be delivered in record quantities (4,714 units in June), probably thanks to big fleet deals. This vehicle is sold as a Quadricycle (Think Renault Twizy class) in some European countries, with the following specs: 12 kWh battery, 120 km range, 90 km/hr max speed, and all for some €16,000.
#2 – BYD Song PHEV: This is BYD’s “Model Y,” a VW Tiguan-sized SUV, in this case in a plug-in hybrid version (the fully electric version has had its first units registered just this month). In only its second full sales month, 4,552 of these BYD Song PHEVs were registered, the second best score ever for a BYD model — the Tang set the record at 5,503 registrations back in December 2015, but that’ll probably be beaten this summer. Why is this model so disruptive?
A) It’s an SUV, and we know how they are sucking up sales everywhere. (For some reason, its sedan counterpart, the Qin, disappeared from the spotlight. Expect something similar to happen sometime in 2020 to the Tesla Model 3.)
B) It has the same impressive specs that its larger brother Tang has (18.4 kWh battery, 70 km range, 0–100 km/h in 4.9 secs), but with a more affordable price ($41,300 USD), which will make it the strongest candidate for the monthly best seller trophies in the coming months.
#3 – Chery eQ EV: A consistent high seller in China, the funky Chery eQ sold a record 3,466 units in June. This is one of my favorite Chinese urban EVs — for €22,000 before incentives, you get a decently equipped city car with a 22 kWh battery and 200 kilometers of range. The only major drawback is the weak engine (56 hp, 100 km/h top speed). Add a bit more power to the engine and you could have a valuable competitor to the current crop of worldwide city EVs, since the Mitsubishi triplets are showing their age, the VW e-Up! is pricey, and the Smart Forfour ED … well, it looks too goofy for my taste. (What were Smart designers smoking when they created this recent generation?!?).
#4 – BYD e5: The Plain Jane BYD e5 sedan continues to impress, delivering another record performance (the third in a row), with 3,206 units moved last month. A favorite among taxi companies, along with its e6 older brother, the low-key e5 actually has a lot going for it: 305 kilometers of range from a 48 kWh battery, and a healthy 218 hp, all for 230,000 Yuan ($33,400). A wolf in sheep’s clothing, isn’t it?
#5 – JAC iEV6S: Despite being a vehicle in the intersection of the two hottest trends in China — crossovers and EVs — success surprisingly escaped the iEV6S due to battery production constraints. But those days are now a thing of the past, having scored a record 3,001 deliveries last month. Expect this Nissan Juke–sized crossover to be a frequent sight here in the coming months — not only does it have an attractive design, inside and out, but also decent specs: 114 hp and 251 kilometers of range coming from a 33 kWh battery provided by Samsung.
Year-to-Date Ranking – Zhidou D2 & BYD New Kings
The big news when it comes to changes in the year-to-date ranking was of course the rise to #1 of the Tin Lizzie Zhidou D2 EV. The BYD e5 finally reaching the podium was notable as well, and the JAC iEV6S continues to climb the ladder, now jumping to #5.
But the sensation of the month was the BYD Song PHEV, shooting to #8 in only its second full month on the market. Expect it in July to reach the top 5 and maybe even the podium by the end of Summer.
Tesla may not be thrilled with its rankings, but the Tesla Model S and Model X being present on the top 20 ranking make them by far the most successful foreign models. The third-best-selling overseas model was the BMW X1 PHEV, with an estimated 600 units delivered.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BYD (19%, up 2%) is back at the Iron Throne, replacing the previous leader BAIC (17%, down 1%). With warp speed now turned on, expect BYD to distance itself from the competition at lightning speed.
In 3rd place and without immediate pretensions to be the King of the Realm, we have Zhidou, with 10% share, followed by SAIC (7%).
|Zhidou D2 EV||4,714||18,693||10%|
|SAIC Roewe eRX5 PHEV||1,541||9,205||5%|
|Geely Emgrand EV||478||7,982||4%|
|BYD Song PHEV||4,552||6,838||4%|
|Changan Benni EV||1,778||6,064||3%|
|Tesla Model S||1,600||4,785||3%|
|Tesla Model X||500||4,514||3%|
|BYD Qin EV300||593||4,117||2%|
|Zotye Cloud EV||1,568||3,687||2%|
In this section, we look at some of the cars landing in the previous month that have potential to reach the top 20. Although, in this first edition, we’re broadening the timeframe to the last two months:
BYD Song EV300: The fully electric twin brother of the Song PHEV, this is a model destined for success, starting with some BYD DNA strong points: long range (a 48 kWh battery allows it to reach 300 kilometers of rated range) and quick acceleration (0–100 km/h in 8.9 secs). Although not as fast as the PHEV version, it has the right technology to succeed in this BEV-friendly market. How successful will it be? I would put 2,000 units/month as minimum bar. For now, there were 189 units registered in its landing month.
SAIC Roewe eRX5 BEV and i6 PHEV: Following on the success of the eRX5 PHEV version, the Tiguan-like-but-better-looking RX5 SUV now has a BEV version (with a 48 kWh battery, watch out, BYD!). Meanwhile, the i6, one of the most appealing Chinese sedans on the road, grew a plug and now has a PHEV version, using the same drivetrain as the eRX5.
The all-electric SUV landed in June, with 43 units, but in a few months, once the production kinks are sorted, sales should easily reach into four digits per month. As for the Audi A4–sized i6 PHEV sedan, it scored 359 units in its first full sales month. Given the recent sales bleeding that sedans are suffering, it will be hard for it to replicate the success of its e550 predecessor, so reaching four-digit sales will be considered a success.
Big Auto gets a lot of criticism here. The problem for large automakers is that they will crush their own finances and have to write off massive investments if they rapidly shift to electric transport, but they are exposing themselves to great threat if they are too slow electrifying their offerings. Nonetheless, it’s hard to sympathize when gas & diesel cars & trucks are destroying our planet’s climate and countless humans’ health. Sometimes the moral high ground should trump the wrath of shareholders.
The good news is that electric cars are better, better, and better, so consumers should be on hand to happily help automakers make the transition and give up their insane obsession with burning stuff.
June’s US electric car sales are a good example of how one small and hesitant step from automakers leads to 10 enthusiastic leaps from consumers. Looking at the sales of automakers who report the monthly sales of their plug-in models, we can see that fully electric car sales grew 102% in June 2017 versus June 2016, and plug-in hybrid sales grew 11.5%. For the year through June, those fully electric car sales are up 96% and plug-in hybrid sales are up 42%. (Again, these numbers don’t even include Tesla’s rapid growth, since Tesla doesn’t report monthly sales or split out US sales from global sales.)
Aside from Tesla, GM and Nissan are leading on the fully electric car front, while GM and Toyota are top of the market when it comes to plug-in hybrids. Apart from BMW, these are the only major automakers that have put a significant amount of effort into the electric cars they have on the market today. It’s not that surprising that the companies that have put in the most work offering electric vehicles are the ones selling the most electric vehicles, but the big question is when they see this market as their most important growth market and offer several original electric cars across popular car classes.
In the end, 1000–2000 sales a month will encourage automakers to keep electrifying, but it’s 20,000 or so sales a month that make an individual model one of Big Auto’s cornerstone and iconic offerings. That would be something like 3–4 years of 100% growth for GM’s Chevy Bolt.
It’s still hard to imagine a large automaker getting to 20,000 monthly sales of an electric model by 2020, but maybe they will be inspired by demand for the Tesla Model 3 and maybe they have enough magic up their sleeves that we can be positively surprised by the time the next oil-funded US presidential election comes around.