The surprise winner of December 2016 sales? The Chevrolet Volt selling a record 3,691 copies

Where to start?  December was a month for the record books when it came to plug-in vehicle sales in the United States.

In total, an estimated ~24,785 plug-in vehicles were sold in America – up 81%, and far besting the previous high of 17,224 set earlier this year in September.

For the full year, ~159,139 sales were achieved, good for a 40,000+ gain, or 37%.

Looking at December’s plug-in scales in the larger picture, EVs took home 1.47% of all auto sales in the US for the month.  Put another way, that means 1 out of every 87 vehicles sold in America in December…came with a plug!

Tesla’s Fremont facility had some difficulty getting AP2 enabled cars out to consumers in both October and November…which lead to a very inflated December result in the US

Even more significantly, almost all the major plug-in offerings set new 2016 highs (see full list below), many all-time highs – with the newcomers putting up strong contributions despite just arriving to the US, still with limited availability.

Leading the push was Tesla.  Desperate to produce and deliver as many Model S and Model X as possible in the US to hit Q4 global sales estimate (after seeing production pile-up in both October and November thanks to some difficulties transitioning to AutoPilot 2 hardware), the company moved nearly 10,000 EVs domestically in total in December.

Also strongly contributing was General Motors, as the Chevrolet Volt set a new all-time high, closing in on the 4,000 sold mark, while the new Chevrolet Bolt EV sold close to 600 copies despite only being available the week after Christmas.

And just as a further word on EV sales in the US this year and momentum…it was very strong in the second half, and means big things are ahead for 2017..  For the first six months of 2016, sales were up 19% (64,702 vs 54,347), but the second half is when things really got going – up 53% (94.437 vs 61,752).

First Chevrolet Bolt EV deliveries (seen here with the “Woz”) managed to secure the 2nd best all-time debut mark!

How does the Bolt EV’s debut month stack up all-time?

  1. Toyota Prius Prime – 781
  2. Chevrolet Bolt EV – 589
  3. BMW i3 – 336
  4. Chevrolet Volt – 326
  5. Fiat 500e – 200*
  6. Mercedes Benz C350e – 171

There was also some other happenings of significance during the last month of the year:

The 2017 C-Max Energi is slightly refreshed, has a couple more miles range, and a better price-point…which naturally leads to more sales!

*- Ford C-Max Energi set a new all-time record, selling a surprising 1,289 copies (previous high this year was just 755 cars sold),

*- Audi A3 e-tron also put old sales results into the wood-chipper by posting near 600 sales in December,

*- Toyota Prius Prime followed up the strongest debut ever for a new plug-in offering (see chart above), but improving to 1,641 sales in December despite a very limited allocation for the US during the month

*- the ‘prodigal son’, the Mercedes Benz C350e, originally promised to arrive in the US some 15 months ago (and oft-delayed) made its appearance in December, and sold a solid 171 copies – the sixth best debut month ever for a new plug-in.

*- the not-quite-so-slow arriving (but not winning any awards for punctuality either) BMW 740e also managed to post a few initial sales this month – making BMW the first OEM with 5 different plug-in offers in the US

A couple of luxury brands brought new offerings to the US in December: the Mercedes Benx C350e (shown above) and the BMW 740e

And what year end would be complete with a list of major plug-in offerings that were promised, or expected to show in 2016, but did not?

Here is a final look at the 2016 plug-in vehicle sales chart for the United States:

2016 Monthly Sales Chart For The Major Plug-In Automakers – *Estimated Tesla Sales Numbers, NA for X – Reconciled on Quarterly Totals, ** Fiat/Hyundai Does Not Report Sales Directly, Estimate Based on State/Rebate Data


Top Manufacturers Of Plug-In Vehicles:

  1. Tesla* 9,725
  2. General Motors – 4,290
  3. Ford – 2,489
  4. Nissan – 1,899
  5. BMW – 1,756
  6. Toyota – 1,641
  7. VW Group – 1,187

Pure Electric Car Market Share vs PHEV In December*

  1. BEV – 14,144 – 57.1%
  2. PHEV – 10,641 -42.9%

New Year Highs Set In December By Model (previous 2016 high in brackets)