There was a brief moment when the race for plug-in vehicle sales narrowed between the Chevy Volt and Tesla Model S. With the early results in from June, the contest ceased being a nail-biter. Tesla blew out the pack with a total of nearly 6,000 cars sold, according to InsideEVs. In what looks to be a record number of U.S. deliveries, the leading electric car maker separated itself from the competition last month.
The numbers are impressive from any standpoint. InsideEVs estimates 3,700 Model S deliveries, up over 30% from June 2015 (2,800) and close to the sedan’s best-ever showing (3,990) in March. For its part, Model X hit a record with an estimated 2,180 deliveries in June. While the industry waited on Ford plug-in vehicle sales, it was clear Tesla would take first and second place on the month.
Plug-in vehicles as a segment thrashed the June 2015 sales total (10,364) and was likely to break the all-time record for the month when Ford, BMW, and other automakers’ models were added to the total. In fact, with several thousand sales likely to be added to the 11,000 already in, June 2016 had a chance to top the best month ever (December 2015) for electric car deliveries in the U.S.
What was behind the surge in deliveries out of Tesla’s Fremont plant? If you notice the automaker’s biggest months coinciding with the end of each quarter, there is enough data to support the theory — suggested by several outlets — that the EV company’s timing is built around financial reporting cycles. Of course, Tesla wasn’t the only plug-in showing gains in a potentially record month.
Chevy Volt continues its charge
Chevrolet Volt has another strong month on the sales charts with 1,937 deliveries, its second best month of 2016 and a 58% improvement over June 2015 sales. The 2017 model, which has made its way to every U.S. market, is finding a solid (if not spectacular) following with 53 miles of electric range available on a full charge and 420 miles total range.
According to InsideEVs, low inventories have haunted the 2017 Volt in its early run on the U.S. market, but the situation is likely to improve by the dog days of summer. On the bright side, the long-range plug-in hybrid has cemented its all-time sales lead over the Nissan Leaf and currently stands at over 98,000 cumulative sales in the U.S
For those counting EV tax credits, that leaves GM with fewer than 100,000 for the Bolt EV once you count Chevy Spark EV sales (over 5,500 units). By the time Bolt appears at the end of 2016, GM will be left with 85,000 credits out of the available 200,000, assuming about 2,000 sales per month through the end of this year.
Other June electric vehicle sales highlights
Though Nissan Leaf has fallen into fifth place in plug-in sales behind Ford Fusion Energi and Tesla Model X, the EV sales record holder put up a respectable June with 1,096 deliveries, its second highest total of 2016. BMW i3 (608 sales) and Fiat 500e (480 sales) also boosted the overall plug-in sales totals.
Along with the hot-selling Fusion Energi and steady C-MAX Energi, the popular BMW xDrive40e plug-in SUV and Spark EV could conceivably push the monthly total over 14,000, which would make it the finest hour for plug-ins yet in America. Nonetheless, sales continue to hover below 1% of the auto market.
Until the arrival of the Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3, chances are these numbers will continue to fluctuate wildly. If the performance of the 107-mile Leaf is any indication, the longer-range editions of the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf may do little to power the segment into 2017.
That’s more evidence Tesla did not pull the 200-mile number out of a hat. Until the affordable generation of long-range EVs arrives, Model S still looks like the car to beat.