January has always been a slow month for EV sales, and this month didn’t fail to disappoint. Monthly sales of 5,924 barely bested last January’s figure. A new generation of vastly-improved plug-ins is in sight, so a lot of buyers may be opting to wait a bit, and those rock-bottom gas prices probably aren’t helping.
The Tesla Model S theoretically held onto its lead with 1,100 sales in January – we say “theoretically,” because Tesla doesn’t release monthly sales figures, forcing us to rely on estimates, like those prepared by our colleagues at InsideEVs. In fact, Tesla tends to be secretive about its finances in general, as our colleagues at Green Car Reports recently noted.
After 23 consecutive months of new records, the LEAF settled back to a moderate speed – sales of 1,070 fell short of last January’s 1,252. Nissan’s EV chief Brendan Jones put a brave face on things, saying, “We saw a significant increase in demand in December from customers looking to take advantage of federal and state incentives at the end of the tax year, which pulled some sales ahead.” With the next-gen LEAF promising a doubling in range, the future of the leading EV looks bright.
The BMW i3 snatched third position away from the Volt. January sales of 670 were down from December, but still look strong on a seasonally-adjusted basis. A few details of the 2015 model have come out – upgrades include standard DC fast charging and heated seats. An industry consultant who recently took apart an i3 to see what makes it tick estimates that the vehicle could be profitable at an annual volume of about 20,000 – a level that BMW should handily reach this year.
The immediate outlook for Volt sales isn’t great. The next-generation 2016 Volt, with a larger gas engine, longer electric range and several other improvements, is expected to go on sale this fall, so demand for the current model seems to have evaporated. A measly 542 Volts found garages in January.
Sales of Ford’s Fusion Energi (426) and C-Max Energi (395) were down a little compared to last January, and far short of the four-digit figures they were hitting last summer. Ford’s pure electric afterthought, the Focus Electric, sold a mediocre 85 units.
The Prius Plug-In has fallen way back in the pack – January monthly sales were 401, exactly half of 2014’s figure.
Two recent entrants to the market continue to post decent early sales. The Mercedes B-Class ED moved 240, and the VW e-Golf shifted 181. The Smart ED hung in there with 147 sales. Moving on down the list, there was no big sales news for the compliance cars and low-volume models, which continue to slowly creep off the lots. In dead last, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV clings to life, selling 3 units.