Also published on EV Obsession’s “Electric Car Sales” page.
I love doing the US electric car sales report at the end of each quarter. Well, I love doing it every month, but the last month of the quarter holds a special place in my heart. With Tesla’s quarterly figures (published just in time for this report), Tesla registration data from Europe and China mostly logged, my estimates for the first two months of the quarter, and a little more estimating (Australia, UAE, etc.), I’m able to check out the remainder I have left for US Tesla sales in the last month of the quarter. As has happened nearly every time before — something that shocks me each time — the figure that resulted for the third month of the quarter actually looked logical.
Estimating Tesla sales always makes me a bit nervous — in part because the monthly figures often put the Model S and Model X at #1 and #2 on the sales chart, and I get concerned about hidden bias or an impression of bias. Also, the US vs non-US sales split has long been guided by a couple of statements from Elon Musk and I haven’t heard more guidance from him on that topic in years. However, those early notes from Elon combined with registration data Jose Pontes digs up from Europe and China leave little play space for me to get into trouble. Once the quarterly sales are out, I get the last bit of the equation that I need to check my numbers and complete my estimates. That is, I find out how closely Tesla’s global deliveries matched up with my expectations.
Okay, with that long intro out of the way, let’s get to the numbers.
Tesla #1, Tesla #2, Chevy Bolt #3
It jumped out to me yet again that Tesla’s abnormally high sales of large, expensive, luxury vehicles really shouldn’t be sitting at the top of an overall EV sales ranking … but they are. The top selling cars on the overall car market are not large, high-end sedans and SUVs, so it seems wrong for such vehicles to top the EV sales list, but the point is: they’re the EVs that are most competitive in their respective vehicle classes. If other electric cars were as competitive in their much more popular vehicle classes, they’d be humiliating the Model S and Model X and would be sitting high on the top of the list. Well, I guess that’s the role the Model 3 is destined to play.
As it stands, there are basically just a handful of other plug-in models that see decent monthly sales. Perhaps there are some that I don’t track (since the parent automaker doesn’t reveal their monthly sales numbers, or any sales numbers), but I doubt it. As far as these other noteworthy plug-in vehicles, here are some quick thoughts on September and overall 2017 sales figures:
Chevy Bolt sales continue to grow month after month, hinting that GM has gotten production ramped up, and maybe also that advertising and word of mouth are working their magic and moving more and more Bolts off the lot. If it weren’t for those rascal Tesla kids, the Bolt would now be the top-selling electric car in the US, so it certainly deserves some love. Of course, if it weren’t for Tesla, the Bolt wouldn’t be on the market. (That’s basically a fact, not an opinion.) See Kyle’s in-depth review and owner Robert Dee’s initial review after 1,200 miles.
Toyota Prius Prime benefits continue to hold up in court, and broad availability must not hurt. Yes, the car will forever be ignored and sneered at by many a Tesla fan, but it does offer a competitive mixture of size, price, creature comforts, new tech, and flexibility. See Kyle’s in-depth review for more details on the car.
Chevy Volt sales are down a bit compared to earlier in the year, perhaps losing traction from the rise of the Chevy Bolt and Toyota Prius Prime, but the Volt still an amazing offer for the price. It’s got to be on my list of the top 5 best buys on the US car market, and it’s almost certainly my favorite hybrid. It may not be a Tesla Model 3, but we can’t all be.
Nissan LEAF sales remained above 1,000 again in September, demonstrating a persistence and resilience I did not expect as Chevy Bolt production ramped up, Tesla Model 3 production started, and a next-gen Nissan LEAF with much more range and ProPilot was unveiled. It’s still a bit of a mystery what is keeping the sales funnel flowing, but the presumption is that it’s some combination of compelling discounts, fleet sales, simple word of mouth from the broad network of happy Nissan LEAF drivers who have been enthusiastically selling their friends and family on the car for years, and repeat buyers/lessees who have decided to stick with the current LEAF for a few more years while they wait for the next generation of electric cars to really get rolling. Or Nissan is just lying…. See our long-term review of the LEAF for much more on why we love this car.
The Ford Energi brother & sister duo (Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi, respectively) continues to see moderately okay monthly sales. A combo of half-decent availability, cost competitiveness, and the ability to drive on electricity but also benefit from the long-distance convenience of a gas tank + ample interior and cargo space is all that it takes to move several hundred cars off the lot each month.
As for the Tesla Model 3, in case you missed it, Elon Musk has admitted yet again that they are deep in production hell right now.
You'll know as soon as we do. We are deep in production hell 🔥
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 6, 2017
Let’s hope they find an air-conditioned exit out of hell soon.
Check out the full sales tables below and let us know your thoughts in the comments if you have any!
For more on EV sales data that helped feed into the Tesla estimates, see:
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