Plug-In Vehicle Sales Reach a High Point, But Things Aren't as Rosy as They Seem

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Sales figures point to a record-breaking month for electrified vehicles in June, but the final tally doesn’t tell the whole story.

After a dismal May that saw sales fall below the previous year’s numbers, sales of plug-in vehicles (battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids) surged in June, hitting a combined total of 13,722 units in the U.S., according to Hybrid Cars.

Overall market share for plug-ins reached 0.91 percent last month, close to the meaty, single-digit figures that EV enthusiasts have dreamed of for years. Sales of regular hybrids (sans cord) stood at 1.84 percent of market share.

Taking apart that data, it’s clear that the plug-in world remains a volatile one. Battery electric vehicle sales in June were up 14.4 percent from May, mainly due to increased production of Tesla models. This puts the tally on par with the previous record from December 2014.

While Tesla sales surge, fewer buyers are turning to cheaper, shorter-ranged models like the Nissan Leaf, which hit its sales peak long ago. Overall, battery electric vehicle sales were down 14.6 percent from June 2015.

Plug-in hybrid sales were down 3.8 percent from last month, but more models on the market meant sales were up by 25.7 percent over the same month in 2015. This category has growth potential as key models (like the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Fusion Energi) are newly improved and more models are poised to join the lineup.

Regular hybrids? Not doing too good. Once revolutionary, the technology is now yesterday’s news. June sales fell 10 percent from May, and 15 percent from June 2015.

A slew of lower-cost, 200-mile-range models is expected to start trickling into the marketplace this fall with the arrival of the Chevy Bolt, but it’s hard to say how much that model (as well as the Tesla Model 3 and others due in 2017 and 2018) will grow the category’s market share. New models could easily poach the sales of existing EVs.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Tsoden Tsoden on Jul 08, 2016

    Ontario has a wonderful incentive plan for EV's.... trouble is, our infrastructure actually sucks. There are charge points in the city, but they are quite sporadic. Car dealerships, and a few small retail chains have started putting them in place, but I have not seen much from the large box stores (except IKEA). It will be a happy day when Walmart, Loblaws, Shoppers Drugmart, and others start putting charge points in place.

  • HiFlite999 HiFlite999 on Jul 08, 2016

    Much of the "sales up 20%" or "sales down 20%" phrases are rather meaningless when dealing with small numbers. Selling 200 more Volts in a given month is a 20% gain. Selling 200 more F-150's is just noise.

  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh Market saturation .. nothing more
  • Lou_BC I've been considering a 2nd set of tires and wheels. I got stuck in some gooie mud that turned my Duratrac's to slicks. I personally would stick to known brands and avoid Chinesium knock-offs.
  • Carson D How do you maximize profits when you lost $60K on every vehicle you produce? I guess not producing any more vehicles would be a start.
  • Carguy949 You point out that Rivian and Tesla lack hybrids to “bring home the bacon”, but I would clarify that Tesla currently makes a profit while Rivian doesn’t.
  • Cprescott I'm sure this won't matter to the millions of deceived Honduh owners who think the company that once prided itself on quality has somehow slipped in the real world. Same for Toyoduhs. Resting on our Laurel's - Oh, what a feeling!
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