This is not a comprehensive electric vehicle sales report for the United States. There is no such report. Too many automakers do not publish EV sales data to create such a report, and there is no national vehicle registration data to comb through and use. However, it is still interesting to look at EV sales charts and sales trends for models whose sales we do have.
The one disclaimer here is that the Tesla sales figures are not precise since Tesla does not split out US sales from global sales. However, we have robust data from EV Volumes regarding sales in other countries as well as strong data from Troy Teslike on some other matters. Combined, we still don’t have 100% accuracy on Tesla’s US sales, or even its global model-by-model sales, but we have good enough estimates that we feel confident publishing the figures along with this disclaimer. The biggest question mark with the Tesla sales data is probably the Model S versus Model X split.
Comparing US Sales by EV Model
Looking at the 2020 numbers, it is (unsurprisingly) clear that Tesla still dominates the US electric vehicle market, with the Tesla Model 3 having nearly 5 times as many sales as the Chevy Bolt, nearly 13 times as many sales as the Nissan LEAF, more than 13 times as many as the Audi e-tron, and more than 152 times as many as the BMW i3, which is really suffering this year.
There’s one problem with broad conclusions about the sales of many of these models — we don’t know how closely supply matches demand for any of them. The Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X sales probably represent demand fairly closely, but we don’t even know that due to the Fremont factory shutdown earlier this year. Tesla Model Y production is still ramping up, and the model isn’t even being shipped overseas yet. The Model 3 shares production lines and supplies with the Model Y, so its production capacity is also limited from the Model Y’s production ramp.
Dealership availability of other electric models — the Audi e-tron, Volkswagen e-Golf, Porsche Taycan, and even BMW i3 and Chevy Bolt — is also uncertain. Some dealers in some locations have them for show and tell, some don’t, and even those that have them often have just 1 or 2 tucked away into a corner and the dealer shuffling people away from them. The problem is, that’s unlikely to change anytime soon for many if not all of these brands.
2020 vs. 2019
Looking at sales in the first half of 2020 versus the first half of 2019, a bit more comes out.
You can see how Tesla Model 3 sales essentially got split out into Model 3 and Model Y sales, and also took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown.
Chevy Bolt sales are very consistent, but the Nissan LEAF has seen its sales drop in half — actually just 2 units off from a precise 50% drop.
The Audi e-tron added a thousand sales in the first half of 2020 versus the first half of 2019, and the Porsche Taycan joined the market for another 1,000 or so, but the Volkswagen e-golf lost approximately 1,400 sales year over year and the BMW i3 basically collapsed.
Second Half of 2020
What’s going to happen in the second half of 2020? Will Tesla production ramp up enough that H2 US deliveries make H1 US deliveries look like another era? Will any of the electric models that saw steep drops in the first half of the year rebound in the second half of the year? Will the Audi e-tron or Chevy Bolt see a surge in sales?
Admittedly, compared to the European EV market, the US market is exceedingly boring. If not for Tesla, it would be a disaster. Even the few competitive models that are on the market face the challenge of limited availability and traditional dealers that don’t want to sell them, or at least don’t try hard. Furthermore, even in Tesla’s case, outside of California, much more awareness of their top qualities and cost competitiveness is needed, and sales may still be heavily supply limited anyway. How much will that improve in the second half of the year? That is the question.