2015 was a disappointing year for plug-in purchases in the US (although sales soared in Europe). Annual sales fell short of the previous year, mostly thanks to a mid-year slump. However, growth returned in October, and January marks the fourth month in a row that US sales have bested the previous year’s monthly figure. 6,291 plug-in vehicles changed hands in January, slightly surpassing last January’s 6,057.
The Chevy Volt took the top spot with 996 deliveries. The next-gen 2016 model went on sale late in 2015, and has already been superseded by a slightly improved 2017 model, which has just started production and should be at dealerships in all 50 states around April.
The Tesla Model S, which was the top-selling plug-in in the US in 2015, came in second in January, moving an estimated 850 units. The new Model X seems to be doing just what it’s supposed to do, posting a respectable increase to 370 units in its second month of volume deliveries. Despite Elon Musk’s assurances that production is ramping up according to plan, some Wall Street analysts are convinced the electric crossover is choking the company – TSLA stock has lost a quarter of its value in the last couple of weeks.
The Nissan LEAF saw a demoralizing decline – January sales of 755 were the lowest monthly figure since 2012, but were enough to secure third place. The upgraded 2016 LEAF, with a new 30 kWh battery pack that provides 107 miles of range, arrived in late 2015. A next-gen LEAF with over 200 miles of range is in the pipeline – some Nissan-watchers believe that the IDS concept vehicle displayed at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show is a preview.
The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (see our cover story in the next issue of Charged) roared out of the starting gate in its first full month on the market. January sales were 327, the strongest debut since the BMW i3 hit the road in 2014.
Speaking of BMW, sales of its plug-ins puzzlingly plummeted in January. The i3, which earned an impressive fourth-place finish in 2015, sold a paltry 182 units in January. The company’s new X5 xDrive40e, the PHEV with the unwieldy name, did almost as well, at 181. The i8 super-sportscar, which had been reliably scoring triple-digit monthly sales, moved a mere 32 units.