Plug-in sales shatter records in May, Prius Prime takes the lead

As more and more automakers are accelerating their plans for an electric future, sales of existing EV models are also gathering momentum. Monthly US plug-in vehicle sales have now beaten previous-year figures for 20 consecutive months. The trend continued in May, as an estimated 16,568 plug-ins were sold, a gain of 44% over last May.

Toyota’s Prius Prime is going from strength to strength – it made the biggest debut in plug-in history last November, and has logged strong sales ever since. It led the pack in May with 1,908 units sold. It’s no surprise that the new PHEV is selling well – with incentives, it’s actually cheaper than the plain old non-plug-in Prius! According to InsideEVs, supplies have been tight, and low inventory levels are holding it back from even more impressive sales.

The Chevy Volt took a close second with 1,817 units, though it failed to beat last May’s figure of 1,901.

Most of the Tesla headlines are about Model 3 these days (unless you count stories about Elon Musk dropping out of our president’s advisory council over his rejection of the Paris climate agreement). Anticipation is building, spy photos are popping up, and TSLA stock is soaring. Meanwhile, the good old Model S and X are still selling – the SUV (1,730 sales) overtook the sedan (1,620 sales) in May, a rare occurrence.

The Chevy Bolt seems to be gathering speed – sales reached an all-time high of 1,566 in May. GM’s state-by-state roll-out has proceeded from the West Coast to the Northeast, and the Bolt is now pretty much available in all 14 CARB states. The full nationwide roll-out will coincide with the arrival of the 2018 Bolt in September.

The next-generation LEAF is also due to make its debut in September. Nissan has taken pains to prevent the upcoming upgrade from stifling sales of the current model, making existing leaseholders an offer they couldn’t refuse, and offering blowout discounts on remaining 2016 and 2017 vehicles. It seems to be working – the LEAF scored a very respectable 1,392 sales in May.

Ford’s two popular PHEVs keep plugging along – the Fusion Energi sold 1,000, and the C-Max Energi sold 950. The unloved and outdated Focus Electric is still finding a few buyers (132 in May). The big news from Dearborn concerns Ford’s new CEO, who is expected to put more emphasis on electrified and autonomous vehicles.

The Fiat 500e, popular with everyone except its creators, sold 665 in May.

BMW’s i3, another model that’s due for a facelift, moved a meh 506 units. The BMW 330e, which started making substantial deliveries in late 2016, may have something about it – it set a new monthly record in May, selling 475 units. The 530e joined the lineup last month and sold 147 in May.

An interesting new entrant is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (in fact, it’s a PHEV), which started volume deliveries in April and sold a promising 485 in May.


Source: InsideEVs

  • Dean Rogers

    Despite Trumps attitude , I hope the trend keeps growing !

  • 2ndchildhood

    I’m at 800 miles and have used four gallons with the prime! Much of the posts I have seen are not accurate! It now charging to 34 miles per charge in warmer weather! We often come home from town with a couple of miles left,or engine starts for a block or two from home!! I filled up at B.J.’s two weeks ago in Portsmouth New Hampshire. We are paying about .14 cents per k.w. so there is really no pay back but—screw you Trump! I should make it to 1600 miles on this tank easy!! If it was my silverodo crew cab it would be 80 gallons of gas please!!!! Love the prime even if it has an ugly ass!!!

    • nordlyst

      Bring some real numbers, not your incredible anecdotes, and I’ll look at them with great interest. 🙂

      The Volt, which unlike your Toyota is at least capable of being used in electric mode most of the time, is only driven in electric mode half the time (well, distance actually). At least according to the data GM released a year ago, which pertained to the first generation of the car.

      Numbers from Norway are even more depressing (and PHEV share of new car sales is 30%!), with less than a quarter of distance covered in electric mode. Partly this is because so many of them (about half) are company cars which tend not to be plugged in at all (employers pay fuel for company cars, but not your electricity bills), but it seems clear PHEVs with as little electric range as the Prius won’t deliver anywhere near the emissions cuts we need.

      Even your anecdotal numbers aren’t enough. If we assume your electricity is carbon-free you are getting 200 miles per gallon worth of emissions, which is a 75% reduction from a decent ICE vehicle. But we need at least 90%. Doesn’t sound like a big difference? Well, you would have to reduce your current emissions by 60% to get to a 90% reduction versus an ICE. And to be as good as a BEV, on the same green electricity, you could never use the engine at all, making it kinda pointless to have in the first place.

  • nordlyst

    This is actually bad news.

    Perhaps the most malevolent thing about PHEVs is that people think they are environmentally friendly. Since they are true energy hybrids (as opposed to the plugless power hybrids that don’t hybridise the energy source, only the powertrain) the label means almost nothing, and a PHEV can be far worse than many ICEVs (e.g. X5 iPerformance, XC90 T8) or much better (e.g. i3 rEX, Chevy Volt).

    Unfortunately the average PHEVs aren’t very green, just a slight improvement over the so-called conventional hybrids. And even the best of them, even though they’re much better than ICE, aren’t nearly as good as BEVs.

    In Norway PHEVs are a huge chunk of new car sales (~30% – BEVs are ~20%) and there’s been some academic interest in how they compare to other vehicles. The findings are depressing – only a quarter of covered distance is in electric mode. Half the cars are never plugged in. GM has published data for the first generation Volt, and even that was only at 50% electric.

    (To those who now ache to tell me about their 99% on electric stories: anecdotal evidence is worthless; only a fool thinks otherwise! Give me numbers or save your energy.)

    So even the best PHEVs are as much dirtier than BEVs as ICE are dirtier than them. It makes as little and as much sense to lump them with ICE as it does lumping then with EVs. And that’s the best PHEVs, not the average. For this reason I never classify them as EVs (nor as ICE obviously) but take care to keep the two distinct.

    If we need to cut emissions by 10% or 30% the plugin hybrids might have been good news. But what we actually need to do is cut radically, almost eliminate emissions from transportation – we need at least a 90% reduction. In this context, everyone celebrating PHEVs and speaking of them as green does nothing but harm. It prepares the ground for corporations like Toyota lobbying for favorable rules for PHEVs. It has environmentally caring (if incompetently) buyers choose them over BEVs. It delays the change we need to happen.

    Lastly, if you look at cars in energy terms things are even worse than they are in emissions terms. The ICE drivetrain uses three times as much energy as the electric one. Hence, you have the following relative energy use (with the best PHEVs):

    BEV – 1 unit energy
    PHEV – 2.5 units energy
    ICE – 3 units energy

    So if you consider both energy and emissions, the depressing truth is that PHEVs are more like ICE, in terms of their consequences, than they are like electric cars.

    • walter rowntree

      To be clear, posting ‘actual numbers’ produces a testimonial. Testimonials are barely better than anecdotes.

    • jstack6

      I got over 6 miles per kWh the last few days in my 100% Electric 2015 KIA SOUL EV EVen with over $30K miles on it. I get 120 mile range most of the time. Today I drove 22 miles and still had 98 mile left on my range indicator.
      I also did about 8 miles on my bicycle running to the store and back before my drive. I even stopped to water our community garden. It was 108F today in our area. But the morning was cooler…about 75F