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

As we head into February, let’s take a look at how EV sales are moving along in the U.S.

February will mark the 41st 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. We anticipate much the same situation this February 2019.

More Info: Updated deep dive into our estimates and methodology

If history repeats itself (and we believe it will), February sales will be way down as compared to the last several months, though potentially up slightly from January. Early months have never been so hot for EV sales. However, there are many variables involved. We are first to admit that as any year wears on, we get a better grasp of the situation. However, early in the year, we don’t have a solid idea how things might pan out. This year the variables are even greater since the Tesla Model 3 has now made its way overseas.

Thus, we continue to streamline our sales reporting processes. Over the course of this first quarter, we’ll work to get a solid grasp of the situation and adapt as expected. Please continue to bear with us as we work hard to sort it all out and transition as needed.

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) may leave us a bit uneasy. The Model 3 pulled an exorbitant amount of weight in 2018. But sadly (although expectedly), it’s leaving us for overseas markets. With that being said, we should be happy for Tesla’s global presence, but we should also realize that overall U.S. monthly sales figures will be down, at least at initially, as well as during the first few months of each quarter.

Of course, we’ve already dealt with a slew of Tesla haters, stock short sellers, and mainstream media saying Model 3 sales took a massive nosedive from some ~25,000 sold in December to a measly 6,500 in January. But, they’re just looking at U.S. sales and not the bigger picture. Clearly, diminishing demand is not the case, but it’s becoming much more clear that U.S. shoppers were waiting for the $35,000 Standard Model 3, which just launched on February 28. Hopefully, that means sale will rise substantially in March (if Tesla can pull off its four-week or less delivery pursuits), as well as at the end of each subsequent quarter, much like the current situation with Tesla’s Model S and X.

In January, almost all newly produced Model 3 sedans were in transit to Europe and China. That continues to be the case in February, even moreso, but at least we’ve reported that those cars are now arriving regularly overseas and being delivered abroad. Still, there were some projected 11,000 inventory cars still awaiting delivery on our shores, 6,500 of which we estimate were delivered in January. Our research suggests Tesla has been delivering the remainder of those models since the first month of the year, in addition to a handful of recently produced product.

It will take some time for Tesla to streamline its efforts and figure out how to handle global markets, along with U.S. demand before this all levels out. So, as we see it, Tesla delivered an estimated:

5,750 Model 3 sedans in the U.S. this February, in addition to some deliveries in Canada and a growing number of cars in Europe and China. So, while Model 3 deliveries in the U.S. are down once again, this was reported and anticipated. As far as we can tell, Model 3 deliveries overall on  a global level are impressive to say the least.

As we’ve repeatedly informed, GM has decided to discontinue monthly sales reporting, so we provide you with estimates each month and then reconcile (if needed) at the end of each quarter.

Based on our data collection, GM delivered 1,223 Bolt EVs and just 612 Volts in the U.S. in February 2019.

Nissan LEAF sales for the month of January were down from prior months, but way up year-over-year. 2018 was an interesting situation since 2018 U.S. LEAF production was delayed as the upcoming car was just coming to market. Looking back historically, Nissan sold 772 LEAFs in January 2017 in the U.S., and 775 in January 2016. So, the month’s numbers were not far off. Moving into February sales are suffering again:

The automaker reported deliveries of a just 654 LEAFs in the U.S. last month.

The Toyota Prius Prime has continued to make waves in the PHEV department in terms of overall U.S. EV sales. However, numbers are still down compared to last year. But, of course, Toyota is clearly saddened by the Clarity PHEV topping its Prius Prime sales. So, it joins other automakers in not reporting splits. All we know for sure is Toyota delivered 3,661 Prius vehicles. Yet another sad say for EV sales.

All we can provide you at this point is a decent estimate with no prior research. We assume about only about 1,075 Primes were sold in the U.S. in February 2019. We can safely assume that launching the Corolla Hybrid had a notable impact. 

The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid kicked it up a notch 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 this February, results are a wee bit more promising, since Honda reported selling 10 more from the Clarity family than it did in January.

Honda Clarity deliveries In the U.S. in February amounted to a reported 1,281, according to the automaker. Based on our estimates (which we will later clarify with Honda), total Clarity PHEV deliveries hit about 1,200 in the U.S. this February.

Keep yourself tuned in and refreshing the pages during the coming days as we put the numbers to the dialogue.

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

  1. How will overseas deliveries continue to impact Tesla Model 3 U.S. deliveries? (As expected, Tesla is delivering most Model 3 vehicles overseas, though some previous inventory, along with a handful of new builds seem to be arriving in U.S. driveways.)
  2. How is the U.S. federal EV tax credit affecting Model S and Model X sales? (Sales are somewhat stagnant as expected, but in the first two months of any quarter, Tesla is shipping its vehicles to global markets. This is no different from past situations.)
  3. Will the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid continue to top the Toyota Prius Prime as the U.S. PHEV sales leader? (It seems so, but we’re in the process of reaching out to Toyota for Prime numbers, as well as waiting on our expected splits from Honda.)
  4. How did Chevrolet Volt sales work out in the car’s final month of production? (Not well.)
  5. GM increased Chevrolet Bolt EV production to increase inventory. Has it helped sales? (Nope.)
  6. How will the  2019 Nissan LEAF Plus (e-plus) impact Nissan LEAF U.S. deliveries? (Very much as shown by dimishing LEAF sales.)
  7. Has Jaguar found success with another notable increase in U.S.-based I-Pace sales?

Also of note this February:

  • Toyota reported delivering just 94 Mirai vehicles in February
  • Our estimates show some 10 Clarity FCEVS sold this February.

Last update: March 1, 2019 @ 12:35 PM 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.

***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, as substantiated above. 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
Honda Clarity PHEV* 1192 1200 2,392
Toyota Prius Prime 1123 1075 2,198
Chevrolet Bolt EV 925 1225 2,150
Tesla Model X 950 1100 2,050
Tesla Model S 875 800 1,675
Nissan LEAF  717 654 1,371
Chevrolet Volt* 675 615 1,290
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid** 436 589 1,025
Kia Niro PHEV* 279 505 784
Ford Fusion Energi 557 557
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* 175 210 385
BMW 530e* 376 376
Jaguar I-Pace 210 129 339
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid* 150 145 295
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 133 157 290
Volkswagen e-Golf  164 118 282
BMW i3 (BEV + REx)  255 255
BMW 330e* 216 216
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV* 95 105 200
Volvo XC60 PHEV* 90 95 185
Fiat 500e**  72 87 159
Porsche Cayenne S-E* 65 90 155
Honda Clarity BEV  78 71 149
Mercedes C350e* 140 140
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV* 73 54 127
Mercedes GLE 550e* 92 92
smart ED  83 83
Volvo S90 T8 PHEV* 35 45 80
Hyundai Sonata PHEV* 4 71 75
Mercedes GLC 350e* 74 74
BMWX5 xDrive 40e* 71 71
Hyundai IONIQ EV 34 32 66
Mini Countryman SE PHEV* 50 50
Kia Optima PHEV* 30 11 41
BMW i8 23 23
Hyundai Kona EV* 0 16 16
Cadillac CT6 PHEV* 8 1 9
Mercedes S550e* 8 8
BMW 740e* 6 6
Mercedes B250e  1 1
Kia Soul EV 0 1 1
Ford C-Max Energi 0 0
Ford Focus Electric  0 0
2019 U.S. Sales Totals 17,040 14,951 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 31,991
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*
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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