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

And so it begins … another year of EV sales reporting, hopefully teeming with amazing news.

January will mark the 40th 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. The last five consecutive months are now the top five best-selling months of all time. We have no doubt January will show tremendous year-over-year growth, but where will it fit in? Is there a chance it could make the top five list?

More Info: Updated deep dive into our estimates and methodology

If history repeats itself (and we believe it will), January sales will be way down as compared to the last several months. It has never been a hot month for EV sales. However, there are many variables involved. We will admit that as any year goes on, we get a much better grasp of the situation. However, early in the year, we don’t have a solid idea how things may play out. This year the variables are even greater since the Tesla Model 3 is now making its way overseas. Additionally, yet another automaker (Ford) is moving to quarterly reporting. What a mess!

For these reasons, we are going to further streamline our sales reporting. Over the next several months, as we get a better hold on the situation, we’ll adapt as needed. Please bear with us as we consider some level of transition into the future.

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 sold in the U.S. in 2018. We anticipate that number rising substantially in 2019. However, these first few months of 2019 (like that of 2018) may leave us a bit skeptical. Being that the Model 3 pulled so much weight in 2018 — and is leaving us for other markets — overall monthly figures may appear bleak. This should prove especially true in the first and second months of each quarter, though we’re confident year-over-year sales will continue to be up significantly, at least early on.

Hopefully, as Tesla streamlines its processes, everything will level out accordingly. We can only assume that — like the Model S and X — Model 3 deliveries will remain decent in the U.S. early in the quarter and then ramp up in the final month. This may not be so true in Q1, but should gain momentum as the year continues.

In January 2018, a mere 12,009 plug-in electric vehicles were sold based on our estimates. The month struggled to pass the previous year’s January sales, which were an estimated 11,004. How will this January stack up? As you can clearly see, January 2019 has already far surpassed prior years. Let’s look at why …

Because of low in-transit vehicles at the end of Q4 and because Tesla has stated that current production is focused entirely on Europe and China, we have made the choice to be very conservatively in estimating U.S. Model 3 deliveries this quarter. In addition, we’re being realistic with our Model S and X estimates.

The good news is that we’ve seen reports of many U.S. buyers receiving deliveries in about a week or as quickly as a few days in some cases. We also know that Tesla had about 1,000 Model 3s in transit at the end of the last quarter. It makes sense to deduce that most Model 3 production beyond that (at least until the last week or so of December) was delivered to U.S. customers prior to Tesla switching to production efforts for Europe and China. This means that — in addition to those 1,000 or so cars — another 5,000+ were delivered in the U.S. before Tesla redirected its production efforts. Our research supports this premise.

Additionally, we know that 1,897 Model S and Model X vehicles were in transit at the end of December. As usual, most Model S and X vehicles will also be heading overseas this month, since it’s the first month of the quarter. However, Tesla has made it abundantly clear that its primary goal is to get Model 3 sedans on ships. Moreover, there was a brief period during which Tesla wasn’t producing lower-priced S and X vehicles, since it discontinued 75D models. Next month, we’ll begin to see the impact of the new base, Extended Range, and Performance Model S and X offerings.

With all of that being said, our estimates show that Tesla delivered 6,500 Model 3 vehicles in the U.S. this January 2019. The automaker also delivered an estimated 950 Model X crossovers and 875 Model S sedans.

Since GM has decided to discontinue monthly sales reporting, 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 925 Bolt EVs and 675 Volts in the U.S. in January 2019.

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

The automaker reported deliveries of 717 LEAFs in the U.S. for last month.

The Toyota Prius Prime continues to impress in the PHEV department and in terms of overall U.S. EV sales. However, numbers are down from last year.

According to Toyota, it delivered 1,123 Prime’s in the U.S. in January 2019.

The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid kicked some major butt in 2018. In fact, it was the best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle on our shores in October and December, thus giving the Toyota Prius Prime some much-needed competition.

Honda reported 1,271 total Clarity deliveries in the U.S. this January. Our estimates suggest that 1,240 of those were of the PHEV variety. Before the end of sales reporting, we’ll have actual sales figures since Honda — unlike most other automakers — has decided to be transparent with us and provide us with delivery splits. Thank you, Honda!

On a side note, Bradley Berman is working once again to reach out to other automakers and get exact numbers and/or splits going forward. It seems he’s making impressive progress, so our numbers may change in the coming days. Additionally, delivery figures may be more precise going forward. As we noted, our reporting and process is up for some changes moving into 2019. We’ll keep you posted on those details as the year moves on.

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

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

  1. How will overseas deliveries impact Tesla Model 3 U.S. deliveries? (As expected, it appears Tesla has been successful in producing and shipping most Model 3 vehicles to Europe and Asia. Still, based on our estimates, the automaker was able to more than triple any other automaker in terms of U.S. EV deliveries, at some 6,500 on the month.)
  2. How is the U.S. federal EV tax credit and Tesla’s Model 3 focus affecting Model S and Model X sales? (Model S and X sales were just above flat as compared to January 2017 and 2018. The automaker delivered 950 Model X crossovers and 875 Model S sedans in the U.S. last month according to our data collection.)
  3. Will the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid continue to be the PHEV champ, pushing past the Toyota Prius Prime once again? (As expected, Clarity sales are way down for the first month of the year. Still, Honda sold an impressive 1,271 in total, to beat the Model S, Model X, Chevy Bolt EV, and Chevy Volt overall. Additionally, PHEV (1,240) sales were seemingly enough to top the Toyota Prius Prime last month, with its 1,123 deliveries.)
  4. What’s the story with Chevrolet Volt sales in its final months? (As far as our estimates show, GM delivered 675 Volts in January.)
  5. How has increased production helped dwindling Chevrolet Bolt EV inventories and pushed deliveries up? (Despite reported increased production efforts, January totals for U.S. Bolt sales are down, at 925.)
  6. How will the announcement of the upcoming 2019 Nissan LEAF Plus (e+) impact Nissan LEAF U.S. deliveries? (LEAF sales are bleak at 717 for January, but this still parallels January 2016 and 2017 figures. It’s not really fair to compare LEAF sales from January 2018.)
  7. Has Jaguar found success with another notable increase in U.S.-based I-Pace sales?

Also of note this January:

  • Honda delivered an estimated 6 Clarity FCEVs
  • Toyota sold 77 Mirai fuel-cell vehicles

Last update: February 1, 2019 @ 12:25 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.

***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.

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

2019 U.S. EV SALES JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC TOTAL
Tesla Model 3 6500 6,500
Honda Clarity PHEV* 1240 1,240
Toyota Prius Prime 1123 1,123
Tesla Model X 950 950
Chevrolet Bolt EV 925 925
Tesla Model S 875 875
Ford Fusion Energi* 725 725
Nissan LEAF  717 717
Chevrolet Volt* 675 675
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid** 436 436
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* 175 175
Volvo XC60 PHEV* 150 150
Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid* 150 150
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 133 133
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV* 125 125
Fiat 500e**  72 72
Porsche Cayenne S-E* 65 65
Volvo S90 T8 PHEV* 35 35
Honda Clarity BEV 25 25
Cadillac CT6 PHEV* 8 8
Ford Focus Electric 1 1
BMWX5 xDrive 40e* 0
BMW i3 (BEV + REx)  0
Volkswagen e-Golf  0
BMW 530e* 0
Kia Niro PHEV* 0
BMW 330e* 0
Mercedes C350e* 0
Kia Soul EV 0
Mercedes S550e* 0
Jaguar I-Pace 0
Hyundai IONIQ EV 0
Mercedes GLC 350e* 0
Hyundai IONIQ PHEV* 0
BMW 740e* 0
BMW i8 0
Mercedes B250e  0
smart ED  0
Mercedes GLE 550e* 0
Mini Countryman SE PHEV* 0
Kia Optima PHEV* 0
Ford C-Max Energi* 0 0
Hyundai Sonata PHEV* 0
2019 U.S. Sales Totals 15,105 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 15,105
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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