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!
Also published on our Electric Car Sales page.