Electric Vehicle U.S. Market Predictions for 2017 - Tesla Model 3 a No-Show?
Electric vehicles in America are the most talked about non-selling cars of any type. The affordable sales leaders sell at volumes so low that they would be canceled as models were they not mandated by California and the states that follow California in all things environmental. With battery electric vehicles still nowhere close to 1% of new car sales, the Chevy Bolt arrives on the scene in 2017 to prove or disprove what we think we know about why fully-electric EVs don't sell. Unlike Tesla's Model 3, the Bolt is really here and sales have already started.
Tesla's other models, the Model S and Model X, will continue to sell at roughly the same volume they do now. Tesla's "problem", whether by design or by accident, is that it does not (cannot) build vehicles in volume and that won't change for the S and X in 2017. Yes, the X will creep up slightly over the less than 1200 units per month it averaged 2016, but don't expect Tesla to sell 30K of each model in 2017. Thus far, Tesla has either had a good Model S month or a good Model X month of sales in the U.S. with rare exceptions. We (I) will go on the record now and predict that the Model 3 will be late, just like every other Tesla product. The company will roll our a handful of pre-production units in the late part of 2017 so that its fans can be happy it "Made its deadline" and then the wait will continue into 2018 for production models in any real volume. Tesla does not want to sell too many Model S and Model X vehicles before the Model 3 arrives. The secret reason is explained in our prior story about Federal Tax rebates and the Model 3.
Ford will continue to see decent sales of its Fusion Energi PHEV, but that model is growing stale. Add to that list pretty much every other plug-in hybrid except one. The Toyota Prius Prime will rise to third among all electrified vehicles in sales during part of 2017.
As for the Bolt, here is this writer's prediction by quarter:
Q1 - A slow roll out of about 1,500 units per month.
Q2 - Ramps to about 3,000 units per month.
Q3 - Bolt hits its stride and sales top 4,000 per month, then slow.
Q4 - Chevy discounts Bolts heavily and the "Deliveries" to dealers rise to over 4,500 units per month on average. Total 2017 Bolt sales = 38,241 units in 2017.The side effect of the Bolt is that the Leaf, Kia Soul EV, Focus Electric, BMW i3, Fiat 500e, e-Golf and other low-volume EVs will be basically given away by their automakers. The Bolt will have a slight net positive effect on battery electric sales in 2017, but its side effect is that EVs with a range of around 110 miles will no longer make any sense at all for most buyers.