June 2015 Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales

BMW i, News | July 7th, 2015 by 0
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The real start of plug-in vehicle sales in the United States each year have always been a fair-weather thing. Prior to heading into the first …

The real start of plug-in vehicle sales in the United States each year have always been a fair-weather thing. Prior to heading into the first month of summer, sales jumped last month to an estimated 11,540 vehicles in May from about 9,000 the month prior. Which begged the question, “Can June top May?”

As it turns out, even with the strongest showing of Tesla Motors in 2015, it could not. An estimated 10,365 sales meant June fell about 10% short of the mark, and 16% lower than a year ago. Even the result was not so great, the industry was already looking past this month’s results (and the summer in general) due to the fact that the next generation cars – starting with the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, are on the horizon for this fall, as well as many new premium offerings, and an expected longer range Nissan LEAF (using the current generation’s platform).

2015 sales chart june vfinal 750x514

Also of interest this month: GM showed off 55 pre-production Chevrolet Bolt mules, indicating they were already well within achieving the targeted 200+ mile range rating, and heading into production next year.

This article first appeared on InsideEVs

Chevrolet Volt:

chevy volt charging red 750x500

In June, 1,225 Volts were sold, which wasn’t a totally unexpected amount as 2015 inventory dwindles.

Previously in May we learned to never underestimate the power of strong incentives to sales. During the month, GM crested the 4-digit mark for the first time in 2015 – and by quite a large margin, as 1,619 Volts were moved.

We now are in a ‘no-man’s land’ of sorts as the last first generation Volt rolled off the line in May, and the first 2016 Volt won’t be arriving until around September (in limited numbers – full rollout out is expected by December).

Assuming that GM will do what it has to sell off the majority of remaining old-style Volt inventory before the new edition arrives, how many Volts will be sold over the next 4-5 months are so becomes simple math. Heading into July about 6,000 Volts have been produced and remain unsold; meaning we expect a normalized rate of about ~1,200-1,500 going forward.

Last year (2014) 18,805 cars were been sold – which was down 18.6% from 2013 when GM moved 20,702 Volts. This means that the Volt is the first electric vehicle to post two consecutive years of falling sales in America.

Nissan LEAF:

Nissan-Leaf

While sales were still off by about 12% from a year ago, Nissan managed to sell more than 2,000 LEAFs during the month for only the second time in 2015, with 2,074 moved.

Last month, the LEAF become only the 2nd car to pass the 2,000-unit sold/per month mark in the industry this year with 2,104 cars sold. Through the first 6 months of the year, the LEAF is still off by 22.9% with 9,816 cars sold in 2015, versus 12,735 through May in 2014. Somewhat slower sales in the earlier months of the year meant that LEAF inventory had been slightly overbuilt and easily crested the 5,000 unit mark in early May, however stronger sales has reduced that total number by about 500 units entering July.

While many plug-in cars month-to-month outlook is fairly easy to call, the Nissan LEAF forecast waters are fairly muddy. June’s sales result represents the last month that the $5,000 rebate is available on the LEAF in Georgia (the program expired June 30th on all BEVs), which has historically accounted for as much as 25% of sales in any given month. The absence of this program will cause downward sales pressure on the model.

However, bumping short term demand is the fact Nissan has now started to more aggressively discount the EV, which is also expected to get a range bump this fall on the 2016 LEAF SV and SL trim levels, that features 30 kWh of total power, an improvement of 25% – meaning a theoretical range north of 100 miles. The bad news is that the 2016 LEAF isn’t expected to arrive until around October.

So what will sales be like from July to September for the best selling plug-in for America? Really, who knows?

BMW i3:

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After posting a terrible month for sale in April with just 406 copies sold (near an all-time low), the BMW i3 bounced back nicely in May with 818 sold. Unfortunately, June went the other way again, with just 551 sold, bringing the year to date total to 4,456.

In 2014, BMW sold 6,092 i3s, good for the 7th best overall spot for plug-in sales in America…not bad considering it was only available for 7 full months in the US. Given the wild swings of late in BMW i3 sales its hard to tell is the current inventory level of about ~1,700 cars over the past 2 months is appropriate to demand, too much, or too shallow.

BMW i8:

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Almost setting a new high again this month for the year was the i8.  During June 137 were sold.

Truthfully, “consistency” is the now the word for BMW i8 sales, as  117 moved in May, and 138 in April – or perhaps the word should be “allocation-restrained”?

All great results so far in 2015, as it only takes about 20 days for a car landed in the US to find a home.  We don’t expected to see what the normalized demand is in the US for the i8 until the company can better produce the car.

The high mark for the i8 was set at 204 plug-in sports cars sold in October of 2014.

555 i8s were sold in total in 2014…out of the approximate 555 that were shipped from BMW’s Leipzig assembly plant.

Tesla Model S:

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Tesla does not give out exact monthly sales (apparently because the public can’t handle the concept of regional allocations and delivery lead times)… so we never know for sure what the monthly numbers total up to until Tesla’s quarterly updates add clarity, but we do our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is happening.

To come to an estimated monthly, number, we don’t simply take the quarterly estimate given by Tesla and divide it by 3 and hope it all works out…it just doesn’t work like that in the real world.

We simply report from the data we accumulate ourselves, the first hand accounts available from the factory and from the community itself when available – and the number is what it is. So far that has worked out pretty well, with no quarter being off by more than 300 units versus information Tesla has reported publicly, and for the full year results last year we came within 100 units with our net estimate of 17,300.

That being said, we only estimate this number because Tesla does not, and to not put a number on Model S sales would be to paint an even more inaccurate overall picture of EV sales. Despite our fairly accurate track record, we are not analysts, portfolio managers and we do not own any positions in Tesla the company.

If you look ahead to Tesla’s production schedule guidance given to Model S customers for this summer, there seems to be a huge void for production/deliveries in July and August.  Why?  Think Model X.  We expect the Model X online configurator to come online in a couple weeks, and production not too much later…although that is really jejune to this Model S sales report.

What is important is that Tesla delivered a lot of Model S sedans in North America in June before what appears to be an extended lull beginning in the second half of July while the company focuses on getting the Model X production online.

Truth be told we aren’t sure what to make of sales outside of the US.  Either Tesla is ignoring the international market for the United States, or the demand just isn’t there.

That being said, we figure Tesla sold a substantial 2,800 copies of the Model S in North America for June.  Bringing the quarterly total here to about 6,900 units.  Heading into April, Tesla put sales guidance of 10,000 to 11,000 EVs sold overall for the 2nd quarter.

As best we can calculate from registrations, no more than 2,100 plug-in sedans at best were sold in Europe through April and May; but from what we can tell the company did a rare “Euro-push” in the last couple days of June to easily beat previous efforts and topple the low end of its guidance target.  On top of these sales of course is the numbers from Asia, unfortunately those reports have been fairly unreliable; we do however feel they are fairly insignificant in Q2 – perhaps between 500 and 1,000 units.

We aren’t really in the predicting business, but if we were, we think Tesla edged out guidance in Q2 easily by more than a few hundred units.

Update:  Tesla has indeed pre-announced sales for the Model S for Q2, and what do you know?  They beat the guidance by a couple hundred units – 11,507.

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