US Electric Car Sales Soar, Bolt Disappoints

US electric car sales are soaring. If you look at the numbers, plug-in hybrids are the most popular choice for mainstream drivers who want to drive on electrons rather than molecules, at least most of the time. Tesla continues to put up impressive numbers but their cars are really in a class by themselves since their average costs is well beyond the means of most drivers.

US electric car sales feb 2017
2017 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai-Kia Do Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data

Topping the sales chart in sales of US electric cars is the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid followed closely by the all new Toyota Prius Prime which is also a plug-in hybrid. The bad news for Chevrolet is that sales of its groundbreaking electric car, the  Chevy Bolt, were actually less in February than they were in January. Yes, February had three fewer days than the prior month, but the Volt, Prius Prime, Tesla Model S, Ford Fusion Energi, and Ford C-Max Energi all had strong gains in February.

EV sales were up 55% in February compared to the same month a year ago. Looking at the year so far, the sale of electric or electrified cars is up an impressive 62% on average. Many of the cars on the sales chart are compliance cars that are offered solely for customers in California and a few other states. But the remainder of 2017 will see the introduction of some very appealing new models that will be priced where mainstream shoppers will find them appealing.

You can put the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, the Hyundai Ioniq plug-in, the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid crossover and maybe the Tesla Model 3 on that list. Once there are more high quality offerings that promise nearly emissions free driving at prices that ordinary people can afford, the EV market could really begin to take off. Inside EVs projects that at the current pace, US EV sales could hit close to 300,000 vehicles this year.

The BMW i3 has longer range this year but like the Chevy Bolt, its sales continue to disappoint in the US even thought it has enjoyed strong sales in the European market. It’s a BMW and all that, but even with the larger battery its range is only so-so compared to the competition.

The question raised by the latest data is, in the market for affordable EVs, is there now a clear preference for plug-ins rather than electrics among mainstream shoppers?

Source and graphics credit: Inside EVs

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.