BMW i3 snatches second place in September plug-in sales

Model S Leaf Volt

US plug-in sales are still in the slow lane – once again, the monthly figure of 10,134 fell short of last year’s 10,921.

The Tesla Model S grabbed the lead position, with 2,500 estimated US sales in September. The company reported delivering 11,580 total vehicles worldwide in the third quarter of 2015, a 49% increase over Q3 last year. That figure includes the first few deliveries of the new Model X, which finally hit the road. The SUV got a lot of press last week and has so many bells and whistles that even Elon Musk admitted that Tesla got “a little carried away.” Tesla kept its promise that deliveries would start in September – six units were driven off the virtual lot.

The hero of the month was the BMW i3, which had its best month ever – 1,710 units were sold. In April, Ludwig Willisch, CEO of BMW of North America, told Automotive News that sales of the BMW i3 are approaching “a sustainable rate” of 12,000 i3s annually.

The LEAF slipped into third place with 1,247 units sold in September, as Nissan released details of the upgraded 2016 LEAF, which should reach dealers this month. A new 30 kWh battery pack that provides 107 miles of range will be standard on the SV and SL trim levels, while the entry-level LEAF S will retain the existing 24 kWh (84 miles) battery pack.

The Volt sold 949 units in September, as the next-gen model, a redesigned and much improved vehicle, makes its way to California dealers (read an interview with two of the Volt’s main architects in the current issue of Charged).

EV watchers are hoping that the new Volt’s impressive technology will be supported by a higher level of marketing. We were disappointed to learn that the Volt won’t be launched nationwide until (hopefully) February, as a 2017 model. Then we were excited to hear that GM plans a new TV ad campaign, but disappointed again when we learned that the ads feature attacks on two other electrified vehicles.

Sales of Ford’s Fusion Energi (808) and C-MAX Energi (719) saw little change, as Ford somewhat unexpectedly announced a substantial ad campaign for the Focus EV (145).

Sales of Toyota’s Prius Plug-in, once a front-runner, have steadily dwindled. September’s paltry 216 was its lowest monthly total since February 2012, the month it went on sale. We anticipate great things from the redesigned Prius hybrid that will appear early next year, but so far we’ve heard no details about the new plug-in version that’s expected to follow.


Sources: InsideEVs, Green Car Reports

  • Electric Bill

    The drop in EV sales worry me, but I suspect it is due to lack of proper ad support. I rarely see or hear of any EV ads, and when I do see car ads it is usually for the biggest fuel-burning behemoths they make… ads for EVs are sterile in their approach, showing the vehicles set against a white background, with no human models or actors in or near the car, an approach that is not going to be successful except to convince lawmakers and the EPA that they are “complying”… but in reality, they are only going through the motions. If they make far more money off of big, expensive ego-mobiles, you can be sure that is where most of their ad money will be spent unless forced to do otherwise, and their sales people will steer them to those high-revenue models when in the showroom.

    This lack of genuine ad support was true way back when the EV-1 and other early “compliance” EVs were being sold more than a decade ago, and it may be necessary to insist that car makers start getting serious about promoting EVs… insisting specifically that they not only MAKE EVs, but PROMOTE them as heavily as any of their other models… also, that they advertise them with the same tactics which are most successful with their biggest sellers– young attractive actors/models posed with the vehicles, showing them at beaches and tailgate parties, etc., and wide-angle, sexy shots as they pass by on the street. The “compliance” ads for the EV1, for instance, were shown with older, “dignified” people… senior citizens… ads that to an attentive watcher could be seen to have no appeal for a younger audience, as, say, a Mustang or Camaro might be marketed. In order for EVs to sell well, they have to be marketed as aggressively as their best selling sedans, sports cars and SUVs.