Tesla Takes 30% Of US Electric Car Market In March, Brings In 30x More Model 3 Reservations Than Entire US Electric Car Market

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Apologies for the late US EV sales report — the trip from Poland to Los Angeles and then our big CLEANTECH REVOLUTION TOUR event have demanded a tremendous amount of time. In any case, enjoy!

Originally published on EV Obsession:

Electric car sales in the US were a mixed bag again in March. Several plug-in hybrid models, led by the Chevy Volt, had a strong month and first quarter, but several fully electric models saw lower sales than in the previous year. I think these sales are still depressed by people waiting for longer-range electric vehicles that are around the corner (Tesla Model 3, Chevy Bolt, 2nd-generation Nissan LEAF, etc.). Low gas prices may also be contributing to that, but my guess is that gas price is a smaller factor.

The big changes in sales comparing March 2016 to March 2015 were as follows:

  • BMW i3 down 64%
    (332 vs 922)
  • Fiat 500e down 77%
    (270 vs 1195)
  • Nissan LEAF down 31%
    (1246 vs 1817)
  • Ford Fusion Energi up 48%
    (1238 vs 837)
  • Chevy Volt up 192%
    (1865 vs 639)
  • Tesla Model X up from 0 to 1200 (11% of the EV market)

Overall, I think we have 3 clear categories in the current EV market:

  1. medium-range (or short-range if you’re pessimistic) fully electric cars
  2. plug-in hybrids (including extended-range electric vehicles)
  3. Teslas… long-range fully electric cars with Supercharging (which together make road trips convenient/practical)

I think category #1 is getting hit hard by the coming Tesla Model 3, Chevy Bolt, and other long-range electric cars. While these cars still make sense for millions of people as second or third cars, it’s very tempting to wait for an electric car that can conveniently drive across the country for the same price… and that also comes with better performance, better handling, autopilot, and cool features like a glass roof.

Category #2 is holding up as a transitionary option between short-range EVs and long-range, affordable EVs — especially with the much-improved 2nd-generation Chevy Volt.

Tesla is, of course, growing fast and is clearly production constrained, with thousands or tens of thousands of people in line for the Tesla Model X, and hundreds of thousands for the Tesla Model 3. It is in the lead in many respects, and it seems like no one is eager to really bring competitive products to give Tesla a run for its money.

With these trends (and probably others) at play, fully electric car sales in the US were down 15% in March and 8% in the 1st quarter, while PHEV sales were up 64% and 48%, respectively. Combined, that put all plug-in car sales up 9% in March and 10% in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, 325,000 reservations were put down for the Tesla Model 3 in one week, 30x more “sales” than the entire US electric car market saw in March….

Here are the charts and table for more number fun:

US EV Sales March 2016 US EV Sales March 2015 US EV Sales March YTD 2016 US EV Sales March YTD 2015

US EV Sales 2016 - Mar 2016

Images by Zach Shahan | EV Obsession | CleanTechnica

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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25 thoughts on “Tesla Takes 30% Of US Electric Car Market In March, Brings In 30x More Model 3 Reservations Than Entire US Electric Car Market

  • The second quarter will be very interesting. Tesla shut down its production lines for chunks of February to retool and to deal with supply problems. Starting this month (April) we should start to see the sustainable run rate for Model X….

  • Something wrong Zachary, this should be best ever selling month. 13 725 units. You amiss something.

    • Looks like you got your numbers from InsideEVs. They estimate Tesla sales, just like everyone else, and had really low estimates for Tesla in Jan & Feb. I had higher estimates, and thus had a similar estimate in March as in Jan & Feb — actually, almost exactly what I was expecting before Tesla put its numbers out there. (Tesla put out quarterly sales figures in early April, so I think we all did what we do each quarter and subtracted our Jan & Feb estimates from our quarterly estimate based on Tesla’s actual numbers, in order to come up with Mar numbers.)

      My estimates for the 1st three months were:

      Tesla Model S (est.) 2300 1700 2000
      Tesla Model X (est.) 500 700 1200

      • Oh, good.

  • Mr Shahan, you need to put the Model X line in boldface type, please.

  • I see that the model 3 reservation tell us clearly that the shy decline in full EV sales latest months was just because peoples are waiting better EV, longer range car and not because of low gas price or any other factor.

    • The beyond forecast number of reservations also shows the combination of price & capability that unlocks mass market sales has been found.

      • “Good products” must also be seen to include Good Looks.
        Gorgeous design sells, especially when it’s affordable.

        • Can you imagine the lines for ordering a Tesla that comes in at 200+ miles range, but lists for $25,000 for the basic model – in 2022?

          • I actually don’t think they’ll have that ready by 2022. They have to build a pickup truck first. 🙂

  • We shouldn’t put Model X in the same chart comparison with other cars as market is not same and one model X is 3.4x Volt in value so 1200 Model X is 4114 Volts sold,
    Like that Model X is far above Chevy if we do a fear comparison. same for Model S also.

  • These other car companies better start copying Tesla faster.

    Maybe they need to go talk to RIM and Nokia about things.

    I fully expect major car manufacturers to go bankrupt by the early 2020s. Buckle up boys and girls because they won’t be getting a too big to fail pass this time.

    • Seems likely that there will be a clear out. Their ICE legacy will hold most of them back from successfully copying Tesla. Merely surviving the next decade is what they’ve got to look forward to.

      • Irony: That’s just what many of the ICE cognocenti currently think of Tesla.

      • The Large ICE – Legacy Auto Makers, could (Should?) create a new company owned by a Consortium of current automakers, which is able to independently operate from their mother companies, to take on the Hard Core EV challenges that Tesla is bringing, kind of like Toyota Created Lexus, Honda created Acura, and GM created Saturn – but as a multi-national, multi-OEM, EV Maker, with goals to build even better cars/values, than Tesla Does, which then sells it’s CARB credits to the involved OEM’s which expense the cost, but receive the benefits in Returns on Investment in the independent player, like dividends!

    • Oil companies will also be going bankrupt, though I haven’t worked out exactly when. It’s going to be a really interesting decade or two for the financial markets as the technologies change.

    • “These other car companies better start copying Tesla faster”
      For anyone not in Tesla’s queue already, the only long range electrics available before 2019 or possibly later will be from the three main stream automakers (GM, Nissan, or Hyundai).

      I do expect today’s shorter range EVs to be poor sellers partly for the stated reason, and also by the expectation that good used short range EVs will be for sale cheap once the longer range models can be had. So if you can use a shorter range EV, maybe its worth waiting a year or so, until they can be had for a song.

    • EV sales are still less than 1% so the 2020’s comment is beyond optimistic.

      • I think we’ve probably got to get to 2024 before we begin to see a Turning Point. Then it will be a long downhill slide for fossil fuels, not just in transportation.
        Think of it, we’re now witnessing the beginning throes of The Great Energy Transition. Human Civilization is approaching an epic Tipping Point. Gonna be fun to watch.

        • I hope so. We need to start reducing Co2 output and I don’t see any commitment to do so.

        • I think we’re seeing the Turning Point. We’re in it.

          If Tesla keeps reservations open they are likely to exceed a half million in less than one month. One of the two big US manufacturers is bringing out a serious EV this year. It looks like Ford and Chrysler will introduce PHEV pickups within a year. China is going big with EVs.

          Coal is dying. We’re watching coal companies going out of business. Even the low cost producers in the West are laying off workers due to sagging demand. Coal plants are being closed and no new coal plants are being built. Railroads are talking about the end of coal.

          Wind and solar capacity factors continue to rise as costs drop. Installation rates are accelerating.

          The US seems to have hit peak fossil fuel use. Renewables are taking market share from fossil fuels.


    • This is already happening in Australia. Over the next 18 months, GM, Ford and Toyota are all closing down their factories here – an ideal opportunity for Tesla to step in and buy up another dead factory (or two or three!)

  • I pay no attention to the BS that many EV proponents spout about electrics – they cannot possibly affect emissions to any significant extent no matter how many they sell , not until the power plant is low emission. ANd that can only happen with the depolyment of Gen 4 molten salt nuclear reactors. Everything else is just ignorant mumbo jumbo. Only the supremely ignorant and lying California govt calls EVs
    “zero emission vehicles.” So why hasn’t Gov Brown been sued for fraud (for his e cig stupidities as well, I might add) Has there ever been a Governor as stupid as Brown? Really,, anyone?

    • We’re not going to spend time and space on ideas about how nuclear might be made affordable. If anyone ever figures out how to make nuclear affordable then we’ll discuss that. For now leave that stuff off this site.

      EVs are zero emission vehicles. EVs do not emit emissions. Words have meaning.

      Few grids are carbon free. No grids of which I’m aware are 100% coal. There is a crossover point where the grid cleans up enough so that switching to EVs means less CO2 production than driving on petroleum.

      Let me show you a graph which points out some places where EVs run on grid power results in less CO2 than driving ICEVs.

      And let me show you another graph that shows (a few years back) the amount of coal in the electricity supply.

      As for Gov Jerry, best damned governor in the US. California is doing great since we put Democrats in charge of our legislature and Jerry in the big chair.


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