March 2019 U.S. Plug-In EV Sales Report Card

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Will March U.S. EV sales pull us out of the slump and set new records?

March will mark the 42nd month of consecutive year-over-year monthly sales gains for plug-in vehicles.

Each month InsideEVs tracks all plug-in EV sales/deliveries for the United States by automaker. While January showed notable year-over-year growth, deliveries were down as expected. February U.S. electric car sales barely topped last year’s deliveries, as well as that of January 2019. We’re extremely eager to see what March will bring.

More Info: Updated deep dive into our estimates and methodology

If history repeats itself (and we believe it will), March sales will give us peace of mind that the year is off to a solid start. While January and February deliveries have been historically low, that’s not the case with the final month of the first quarter.

It’s been an interesting year for sure, since the top-selling electric car in the U.S. (Tesla Model 3) has made its way overseas. In addition, Tesla just launched the $35,000 base Model 3 on our shores. So, as the year moves on, we’ll continue researching and evaluating the situation to further improve and streamline our sales reporting processes. Hopefully, as this first quarter comes to a close, we’ll have a more solid grasp moving forward. Please continue to bear with us as we work hard to sort it all out.

Top Months for U.S. EV Sales to Date (estimated):

  1. December 2018 – 49,900
  2. September 2018 – 44,544
  3. November 2018 – 42,588
  4. August 2018 – 36,347
  5. October 2018 – 34,074

An estimated 361,307 plug-in electric vehicles were delivered in the U.S. in 2018. Of course, we expect that number to rise in 2019. However, as stated above, the first several months of 2019 (like that of 2018) have left us a bit uneasy. Here’s hoping March changes that.

In January, almost all newly-produced Model 3 sedans were in transit to Europe and China. That continued to be the case in February, but we’ve been able to report that those cars are arriving regularly overseas and deliveries are accelerating nicely. Based on the information we’ve received regarding overseas Model 3 deliveries, Tesla looks to be in pretty outstanding shape. The big question is, how many cars was the automaker able to deliver in the United States? Not to mention information about deliveries in China has proven difficult to come by.

Tesla is supposed to publish its report in the coming days. Once that happens, we’ll provide an update here and by way of various other articles.

GM has discontinued monthly sales reporting, so we offer you estimates each month and then reconcile (as necessary) at the end of each quarter. The numbers are now in, and we learn that GM delivered 4,316 Bolt EVs and 2,520 Volts in the U.S. for Q1 2019.

Our estimates put March sales at 2,166 for the Bolt EV and 1,230 for the discontinued Volt.

Nissan LEAF sales for the month of January were down from prior months, but way up year-over-year. However, moving into February, sales were down even more. We hoped that March deliveries would rise, however, with LEAF Plus deliveries ramping up soon, we assumed we might have to wait another month or so.

For the month of March, Nissan reports a grand total of 1,314 LEAFs delivered in the U.S. This is way up from last month, but down about 12 percent year-over-year.

The Toyota Prius Prime has made impressive waves in the PHEV segment in terms of overall U.S. EV sales. Still, numbers appear to be down in comparison to last year. Sadly, Toyota has stopped reporting its Prime sales separately. So, it joins the growing list of automakers that don’t report splits. All we know for sure is Toyota delivered 5,410 Prius vehicles in March, which is down over 30 percent from last year.

Based on our estimates, Toyota sold 1,820 Prime plug-ins in the U.S. in March 2019.

The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid kicked things up in 2018. It was the best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle on our shores in October and December, thus giving the Toyota Prius Prime some real competition. In January 2019, the Clarity continued to prevail. Moving forward to February, results proved even more promising. This March, Honda reports a total of 1,416 Clarity vehicles delivered in the U.S.

Breaking down Clarity sales by powertrain puts our estimate at 1,311 Clarity Plug-In Hybrids delivered on our shores this March.

Keep yourself locked in and regularly refreshing the pages during the today and tomorrow as we put the numbers to the dialogue.

Questions entering March (with answers in italics as they come in):

  1. Will overseas deliveries affect Tesla Model 3 U.S. deliveries even though it’s the last month of the quarter?
  2. How is the U.S. federal EV tax credit sunset situation impacting Model S and Model X sales?
  3. Will the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid continue to top the Toyota Prius Prime as the U.S. PHEV sales leader? (Not likely. While we don’t know for sure due to Toyota not providing Prius splits, its pretty safe to say that the automaker sold more Prius Prime’s in March than Honda sold Clarity PHEVs. Based on our estimates, this gives the Prime a healthy ~400-unit edge for the quarter as a whole.)
  4. With the Chevrolet Volt officially discontinued, and the tax credit diminishing now, how many was GM able to sell in Q1? (Sales are down as expected.)
  5. GM increased Chevrolet Bolt EV production to increase inventory. Has it helped overall sales this quarter? (Quarterly sales are down, though March sales are up.)
  6. What’s the status of the 2019 Nissan LEAF Plus (e-plus) and how will it impact Nissan LEAF U.S. deliveries? (We still don’t have any official information about LEAF Plus deliveries, but they’re definitely in stock at dealers in small numbers. LEAF sales overall are up nicely for March, though not quite where they were a year ago.)
  7. Has Jaguar been able to successfully dial up U.S. I-Pace sales?

Also of note this March:

  • Toyota sold 176 Mirai fuel-cell vehicles in the U.S. in March 2019.
  • Honda sold an estimated 13 Clarity FCEVs last month.

Last update: April 2, 2019 @ 11:50 AM ET

*Keep in mind that we use the words sales and deliveries synonymously. In order for a car to count as SOLD, it has to be paid in full (or leased) and be in the possession of the consumer. To further clarify, pre-orders, pre-sales, deposits, reservations, etc. don’t count as sold or delivered.

*On year-over-year of monthly sales improvements: We know someone is going to look at the chart and say, “Hey, only ~11,467 sales were made in May 2016, when 11,540 were logged in 2015! What gives InsideEVs?” What gives is – through an odd scheduling quirk, only 24 selling days were reported in May 2016 (versus 26 in 2015).

***InsideEVs’ journalist Wade Malone provided in-depth, detailed, and heavily researched sales estimations and related analysis.

(Previous year’s monthly results can be found on our Historical Charts page)

UPDATE: Beginning in 2019, we’re archiving our model recaps page and will no longer update it. We’ve found that much of the information no longer applies going forward, and very few people seem to be visiting the page. Additionally, the most pertinent information about top-selling models is always present in our monthly report card. We’ve also moved to publishing several sales reports each month with information pertaining to multiple models in the U.S., as well as abroad.

To view our Archived Individual Plug-In Model Sales Recap For Major Models, click here. It contains an individual run-down of each vehicle’s monthly result and some analysis behind the numbers.

2019 Monthly Sales Chart

Tesla Model 3 6500 5750 12,250
Chevrolet Bolt EV 925 1225 2166 4,316
Toyota Prius Prime* 1123 1205 1820 4,148
Honda Clarity PHEV* 1192 1213 1311 3,716
Nissan LEAF  717 654 1314 2,685
Chevrolet Volt* 675 615 1230 2,520
Tesla Model X 950 1100 2,050
Tesla Model S 875 800 1,675
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid** 436 589 383 1,408
Ford Fusion Energi 557 573 1,130
BMW 530e* 376 414 790
Kia Niro PHEV* 279 505 784
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 133 157 341 631
BMW i3 (BEV + REx)  255 350 605
BMW 330e* 216 185 401
Jaguar I-Pace  210 186 396
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* 175 210 385
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid* 150 160 310
Mercedes C350e* 140 145 285
Volkswagen e-Golf  164 118 282
Honda Clarity BEV*  78 68 92 238
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV* 95 105 200
Fiat 500e**  72 87 33 192
Volvo XC60 PHEV* 90 100 190
Mercedes GLE 550e* 92 95 187
Porsche Cayenne S-E* 65 95 160
Mercedes GLC 350e* 74 72 146
smart ED  83 58 141
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV* 73 54 127
Mini Countryman SE PHEV* 50 63 113
BMWX5 xDrive 40e* 71 38 109
Volvo S90 T8 PHEV* 35 45 80
Hyundai Sonata PHEV* 4 71 75
BMW i8 23 47 70
Hyundai IONIQ EV 34 32 66
Kia Optima PHEV* 30 11 41
BMW 740e* 6 14 20
Mercedes S550e* 8 10 18
Hyundai Kona Electric* 0 16 16
Cadillac CT6 PHEV* 8 1 3 12
Mercedes B250e  1 2 3
Kia Soul EV 0 1 1
Ford C-Max Energi 0 0 0
Ford Focus Electric  0 0 0
2019 U.S. Sales Totals 17,040 17,239 8,693 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 42,972
2018 U.S. Sales Totals 12,009 16,845 26,443 19,623 24,307 25,029 29,598 36,347 44,544 34,074 42,588 49,900 361,307
2019 Worldwide Sales* 159,468 111,541 271,009
2018 Worldwide Sales* 82,000 81,000 141,000 128,450 159,346 160,894 144,975 175,362 206,500 214,800 237,553 286,367 2,018,247

Above – 2019 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Monthly or Quarterly Totals, ** Estimated (Based on State/Rebate Data and other reports). BEV models are designated with the icon.

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Author: Steven Loveday

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