April 2015: Electric Vehicles Sales

BMW i, News | May 4th, 2015 by 5
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Coming off a hot March when more than 10,000 EVs where sold, besting last year’s result by about 7%, the big question now is, “can …

Coming off a hot March when more than 10,000 EVs where sold, besting last year’s result by about 7%, the big question now is, “can April continue the trend?” Fortunately the bar was set a bit lower, as March of 2014 logged just around 8,900 EV sales.

For April, an estimated 9,777 plug-ins were sold – good for a solid 10% gain. Help sales grow this month was America’s 2nd best seller – the Chevrolet Volt, with some help from the Tesla Model S, VW e-Golf, the resurgent Fiat 500e…and wait for it, the Ford C-Max Energi. Yes, the C-Max Energi came out of no where and set a personal best record of 1,237 cars sold, a 74% gain over any previous sales mark this year.

This month’s other dark horse was the Chevrolet Spark EV. Help by an extraordinary deep inventory to start the month, a lower MSRP and a great new lease offer, which translated to over 900 sales! An all-time best by more than 500%.

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First published by InsideEVs.com

The “big dog of the month” award goes to the BMW, which sold just 406 copies after eight months right around 1,000 units sold.

Chevrolet Volt:

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“Incentives pay off” is what GM’s entire lineup learned this month.

The Volt was no exception as sales increased by more than 40% from last month with 905 sold.

During April, General Motors began to once again heavily discount the current generation Volt to take focus away from the high anticipated Fall release of version 2.0.

Chevrolet dropped the Volt’s lease price to $249/month (with nothing down) and also offered buying rebates up to $2,500.

Production will cease on the current generation of Volt mid-month (as planned) despite some pretty abysmal stories that it was done as a response to poor demand factors.

But before than happens GM is pushed 2015 MY inventories to near record highs (~4,500 2015 MY units) to make up the shortfall on stock before the 2016s arrive in volume around September…and of course to maximize profits off an aging – but paid-for, assembly line.

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:


Not participating in the strong sales category for April was the LEAF, as Nissan managed just 1,553 cars sold, which is off about 15% from last month, and more than 25% off last year’s mark of 2,088.

Somewhat slower sales in the first 4 months of the year has meant that LEAF inventory is currently overbuilt somewhat for the first time in…pretty much forever, as more than 6,000 cars are now available nationwide.

Previously during March, Nissan came close to returning to the 2,000 unit sold mark, but fell just short with 1,817 sold – a 50%+ improvement over February however.

Overall Nissan has failed to hit year ago levels each month this year. In total, 5,639 cars have been sold in 2015 versus 7,172, now off an adjusted 22%.

Previously in March, the LEAF overtook the Chevrolet Volt for the all-time lead for plug-in sales in America. That tally at the end of this month now stands at 77,960 to 76,136, although we expect GM to have something to say about those standings when the 2016 Volt arrives this fall.

In 2014, Nissan sold 30,200 LEAFs, which is a big 34% improvement over 2013, when 22,610 were sold. For some perspective on how high that 30,200 sales number is, the previous best was by the Chevrolet in 2013 with 23,094 Volts sold.

Cadillac ELR:


For April, 104 ELRs were moved, good for a 70% improvement from 2014, when 61 were sold.

During April we got word from GM that “officially” the Cadillac ELR would continue on, with new production as a 2016 model this summer (there was no 2015 production).

Additionally, GM released the new spec sheet on the car, which clearly demonstrated it would not be migrating to the next generation platform.

The 2016 ELR does gain some performance over the 2014 model (0-60mph comes up in 6.4 seconds – 1.5 seconds than the older model), despite still using the 17.1 kWh battery found in the current Chevrolet Volt. The Cadillac also gets a $9,000 MSRP haircut (now starting at $65,995), which should help it move a little more product.

Previously in March, 92 were sold, besting last years result by about 14%. February is still the mark to beat for 2015 however, as 127 were sold – up 119% from February 2014 when just 58 were moved.

BMW i3:


“Dog of the Month” award for April clearly goes to the BMW i3, as just 406 copies were sold; especially after selling 1,000ish for the last 8 months in a row.

Previously in March, BMW sold a 922 copies of the i3 – an impressive result considering the limited availability of cars in the US to buy at dealer lots.

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.

Looking at the inventory situation, strong selling results in the first three months of the year has meant that national inventory has fallen under the 2,000 unit mark – which had been considered low in relation to the brands history of selling around 1,000 i3s per month.

Tesla Model S:


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.

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.