March plug-in sales take off as Tesla factory cranks into high gear

Model S Leaf Volt

US plug-in sales have resumed their steep upward climb. March sales shattered last year’s figure, setting a new all-time record. Around 13,725 plug-ins were sold in March, a 33% increase over March 2015 and a few units more than the previous monthly record set in December.

American car buyers now have around two dozen EV and PHEV models to choose from, and almost all saw sales grow in March.

The Tesla Model S reigns supreme, delivering an estimated 3,900 units in March. Tesla has cranked production into high gear, slashing its backlog of orders. InsideEVs reports that one customer received his S just 14 days after ordering, although a more typical wait time seems to be around 3 weeks.

The Model X SUV is also flying out of the Fremont factory – Tesla delivered an estimated 1,950 in March. If these figures are accurate, this is the first time any automaker has taken both the #1 and #2 spots in monthly plug-in sales. Many electropundits believe Tesla’s greatest challenge right now is ramping up production, so the sharply quickening pace of deliveries is very good news.

Of course, the real news in Tesla town is the new Model 3, which made its debut on March 31. Would-be electric drivers were delighted to learn that every Model 3 will come with the features that make a Tesla a Tesla, including an over-200-mile range, Supercharging and a top safety score. Advance reservations soared to over 200,000 in the days following the unveiling.

The new and improved 2017 Volt has arrived on dealer lots nationwide, contributing to a big sales boost in March. 1,865 Volts changed hands, a huge increase over March 2015 (639), but still far short of the Volt’s all-time record (3,351 in August 2013). This month, the Volt snatched the title of best-selling US plug-in from the Nissan LEAF.

LEAF sales improved in March to 1,246, but are still far short of historical highs. The upgraded 2016 LEAF, with 107 miles of range, is now at dealerships, so sales are likely to remain respectable, but Nissan will have to raise its game soon to compete with the upcoming Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. We expect to start hearing about a second-generation LEAF before long.

Ford’s two PHEVs, the Fusion Energi (1,238) and C-MAX Energi (610) continue to sell pretty well, taking the #5 and #6 spots this month. The slightly improved 2017 Fusion is scheduled to arrive at dealerships this summer.

A trio of new PHEVs – the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, Hyundai Sonata PHV and BMW X5 xDrive40e (on the cover of the current issue of Charged) delivered moderate sales. Two models that we had high hopes for – the VW e-Golf and Kia Soul EV – seem to have flopped in the US market, failing to crack the 100 mark in March (however, both models are big sellers in Germany).

 

Source: InsideEVs