5 Electric Car Models = ⅔ Of US Electric Car Sales

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Originally published on EV Obsession, and added to our larger “Electric Car Sales” page.

US electric car sales rose slightly (2.1%) in June 2016 compared to June 2015, but were up 8.5% for the year through June. That said, fully electric cars were down 35% in June, and 11% for the year through June (while plug-in hybrids were up 68% and 45.7%, respectively).

There are a variety of factors that may be the cause of the dip in fully electric car sales, including potential errors with simple estimates regarding Tesla sales (which account for a significant portion of US electric car sales). Market factors that could have influenced sales in a negative manner include:

As a portion of overall US car sales, electric cars were at 0.7% in June.

In terms of how the cars ranked, you can see that well enough via the chart at the top, but the general highlights from the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015 are that:

  • the Nissan LEAF fell from #2 in 2015 to #4 in 2016
  • the Chevy Volt rose from #3 in 2015 to #2 in 2016
  • the Ford Fusion Energi rose from #5 in 2015 to #3 in 2016
  • the BMW i3 fell from #4 in 2015 to #7 in 2016
  • the Tesla Model S was #1 both years
  • the Tesla Model X has already climbed to #5 in 2015

I also think it’s interesting that just 5 cars accounted for  of the US electric car market in June, and for the year through June.

US EV Sales 2016 - June US EV Sales 2016 - June 22

Any other thoughts on the numbers?

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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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36 thoughts on “5 Electric Car Models = ⅔ Of US Electric Car Sales

  • Big emphasis on range – top 4 all have long range. I can’t explain why the CMax and i3 don’t do better. Imagine what a 200 mile range LEAF could sell, but at limited range it can’t even do better than a $120,000 car that few can afford (albeit an awesome 120k car).

    Note also that many other models are likely compliance cars and manufacturers actually limit sales deliberately.

    • “Big emphasis on range – top 4 all have long range.”
      — Yeah, but the LEAF used to do very well. Think that a lot of people just aren’t settling for ~100 miles of range now with cars coming soon with ~200 for the same price.

      “Note also that many other models are likely compliance cars and manufacturers actually limit sales deliberately.”
      — Yeah, good point.

      • Good article and thanks for sharing the numbers.

        I am on the market for a fully electric car. While I am ok with the 100 mile range, I think the leaf should be priced lower given its ageing looks and mediocre cabin.

        I have settled down on the Fiat 500e. I agree the stalemate on the CA rebate is making a lot of people hold off on buying / leasing an electric vehicle. I personally is one of them. Also watching the situation to see what the 2017 models will introduce.

      • Nissan Leaf. 200 mile range. Price $35,000.

        I wouldn’t buy a Leaf. (Perhaps a used one while I waited for my 3.

        • Yeah, I was working on the site below yesterday (not yet public, but will be soon), and I noticed that the LEAF and Focus Electric and others are hardly any cheaper (and check a few boxes, and they’re even the same price). Knew that, of course, but was somehow a shocker.


          • Or get a Chevy volt for $32k today, essentially infinite range and 90% electric. And sure enough, Volt is the 2nd best seller.

          • Yes – there are two up to date options; Tesla/Chevy. And the category takes .7% of the market. Even the Fusion energi, which is not even purpose built, is clobbering everyone else’ dated and limited options. Wonder what would happen if manufacturers were even trying? The Outlander PHEV is not even US available?

            If they ran their ICE business like this the industry would collapse in upon itself and implode from overcapacity and lack of development finance.

          • It’s all about battery pricing. An ICE / 9 speed automatic / catalytic converter is not an inexpensive thing to manufacture. Numerous suppliers to manage, quality control is a nightmare. After a century they’ve mastered it, but theoretically that should be An easy cost model to outcompete.

          • Theoretically. Though without the scale, infrastructure, possession of in-house talented experienced production capabilities, and an external ecosystem, it won’t happen. And after 100 years the ICE part of the OEM’s have this in place. The OEMs that did not, are now extinct. Many initiatives are started that claim to be able to change the world, with most instead centered about the mean.

          • Nice comparison site you have put up. A few suggestions:
            1. A reset all filters option
            2. More information would be great, example upgrade options available, battery capacity, charge options available (L1, L2, L3), Charger network compatibility etc.
            3. Folks in the USA are on the miles system, no km.

          • http://cars.cleantechnica.com/ — Zachary Shahan

            You list the Model 3 that isn’t getting released until late 2017 assuming Tesla is able to make their schedule something they haven’t been able to do ever. However doesn’t list the Bolt that is getting released in a few months.

        • Yep. Used LEAFs can be had for $10k-$12k. Hard to justify buying new. Hey Nissan: how about 200 mile range for $29k – that would sell big time I think.

  • Why won’t Renault sell the Zoe in the U.S.? I bet there would be a big market for it here.

    • What’s it’s range? Since Nissan and Renault are part of the same family (I believe) perhaps they are going with the LEAF because of dealer network and brand recognition. Renault exited American market maybe 40 years ago.

      • Not great range, but very cheap as I recall.

        • IIRC the Zoe price does not include the batteries which must be rented.

          • That lessens it’s desirability quite a bit. Thanks!

          • That was the deal. I think Renault recently dropped that and went the normal route, or at least started offering the normal route, for what is still a lower price than the LEAF.

    • It would be an affordable alternative to those who just can’t stomach the looks of the Leaf.

      • Used to be, in a small way. Shows how old I am.

        You think the Zoe would sell here?

        • Yeah, definitely. If the brand had enough of a network and consumer recognition. I’m guessing most Americans couldn’t say what industry Renault is in.

          Though, with such a partnership with Nissan, seems Nissan could sell it as a sister to the LEAF … theoretically.

          • Dealers would be a problem. Dealers want a full line of vehicles to sell, and Renault just doesn’t have it.

          • Yep, the leaflet. 🙂

          • In the same way that some Chrysler are sold as Fiat in Europe, Nissan could be the brand under which the Zoe could be sold in the US.

        • The Zoe’s main selling point is the integrated 43 kW (!) three phase AC charger. But three phase AC is not as widespread in the US as it is in Europe, so it would be less useful.

  • Regrettably there is too much guesswork in these figures to conclude a 1.1% shift in sales.
    Insideevs guesswork is about 4,000 sales higher. There should be a national database (or 50 statewide databases) to produce the numbers for the new cars registered.

    • Yes, I agree. Though, I don’t see Tesla revealing numbers, and pulling together numbers from 50 states is perhaps a huge challenge or perhaps completely impractical for monthly sales reports.

      The big challenge is Tesla, since it only releases sales figures quarterly, and those are global. We don’t have strong insight until quarterly reports how many were in the US vs elsewhere, and even then, the info isn’t very specific on that front.

      And then you have Fiat & Hyundai not releasing sales figures. I was estimating those based on California’s EV rebate figures, but now the rebate is gone. 😛

  • Here’s how EVs and PHEVs have done over the last 2.5 years. PHEV sales have closed the gap recently. (Hopefully first graph)

    And here’s how short range and long range EVs have done over the same time period. (Second (?) graph.)

    My guess is that we are reaching the end of the low range, semi-expensive EV. People are willing to pay some extra for extra range. Later on we may see short range EVs selling in the $15k to $18k range for those who want a new car for limited driving.


  • The botom sellers are still waiting these models to go down more and more as the depreciaton continue

  • Leaf’s were selling in GA like hotcakes till GA revoked the tax credit and added a $200 birthday tax for good measure

  • Toyota Plug In Prius really dropped off, didn’t they?

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