As EV sales stall, Tesla outsells the rest of the field combined
Electric vehicles are becoming much more affordable due to a combination of manufacturer price reductions and growing government tax incentives. That could soon boost sales of the “affordable” EVs, but as of now the trend has not emerged. Since this is a story that will in some ways cast EVs in a poor light we will point to Inside EVs as our primary source for Chevy, Nissan, Ford, Fiat, and Honda EV sales numbers. We take our Tesla sales estimates from a combination of sources including the VINs being issued to new customers as of this month. In any case, the Tesla sales figures are firm through last October 1st based on its SEC filing. The truth is that all EV sales rates are stalled right now and have been for over a year. Meanwhile, over the past 18 months cars in general just had one of their biggest sales jumps in the past quarter century.
Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf Sales
Since Q3 2012 when the Leaf production came fully on-line its sales have not increased on a quarterly or monthly average basis. The Chevy Volt is similar. Its 2013 sales will be pretty much the same as 2012 when the final tally comes out next week. The run rate of both is around 23,000 units per year. Both the Leaf and Volt are eying more capacity. That does not necessarily mean they will sell more cars. However, the price cuts both have made recently should help increase interest. In any case, as of now, after about 2 years in the market the sales numbers show that both of these models are flat and have been since the middle of 2012.
Fiat 500 EV, Ford Focus EV Sales
The Fiat 500 EV, and the Focus EV don’t add up to a hill of beans. In fact, they are not even a mound, pile, or small stack of beans. According to all the sources we can find (these automakers don’t break out the EV sales yet) each of these three models sells or leases about 125 per month of these new very small EVs. At that rate these two models make up the second tier of EVs along with the Smart EV which sells at about the same rate. Sales are not increasing.
Honda Fit EV, Chevy Spark EV and All the Rest
Honda sold or more accurately, leased 23 Fit EVs last month. Can we stop pretending the Honda Fit EV is an actual car now and just include it with all the other kit cars that automakers are compiling from existing car models that already sell but can shoehorn a battery pack into? Chevy made a lot of noise about its Spark EVs acceleration numbers, which are better than all but Tesla to about 30 mph. Big deal, they sold 87 in November.
Tesla Outsells the Entire Market
Leaf is the only full production pure EV in the US market except Tesla. The Volt is an extended range hybrid electric vehicle. Not that that's a bad thing. We are just trying to emphasize that in terms of cars that run only on electricity there are really just two for sale in the US and one is a Leaf. Tesla Motors makes the only other one. That will change in 2014 when Tesla launches the new Model X. As of today, Tesla’s sales are flat since about 15 months ago. Each quarter the company builds and sells about 5,000 cars. The Tesla Model S sells for an average of about $90,000. I could get all tricky with the math here, but since the Leaf and Volt sell at about that same rate and since one of each together cost less than $65,000 it is obvious that in today’s static EV market, Tesla dominates EV sales in terms of dollars.
It is also important to remember that Tesla does not advertise on TV or in print and that Tesla’s sales dollars are Tesla’s since it sells direct. Chevy and Nissan share the make-believe profits on the Volt and Leaf with their dealers. Does anyone really think that Nissan and Chevy make any money on their EVs after the dealer profit and marketing costs are subtracted out? No they don’t.
Tesla has customers who are waiting in line to get cars. The US market and the world just can’t seem to get enough of them. We follow the forums and customers are still reporting just getting cars after long waits. And the Tesla fever is not just an American thing. Europeans are completely crazy about the Tesla Model S and there are no European EVs that compete with it, and none are on the way any time soon. Tesla just opened its store in Estonia. How is the Honda Fit EV doing in Estonia this week? How’s the Audi EV doing?
Tesla is planning to boost production in 2014. From where we stand looking, it seems like the gap between Tesla sales dollars for EVs and the whole rest of the EV market is about to get bigger, not smaller.
Photo courtesy of the Tesla public site.