A strong July for the Nissan LEAF and the Chevrolet Volt while the Fusion Energi, Model S, and the EV Market Sag
Written by Daniel S. Cohen, Contributor
July was, in general, a disappointing month for electric vehicles as sales declined for the second straight month. According to Insideevs.com, 10,414* EVs were sold during July (this number does not include sales for the Fiat 500e which will, most likely, be around 160). These sales numbers are 12% lower than June (11,893) which was 1% lower than May (12,053). The bright side is that July was the third best-selling month in 2014 and was the fourth best month for EV sales ever. However, it may signal a negative trend in EV sales. August will shed more light on a potential downward trend but, trend or no, the decrease in EV sales from June is disappointing.
After seventh months, just under 65,000 EVs have been sold. Despite declining growth sales these past two months, 16,000 more EVs have been sold YTD 2014 than in the first seven months of 2013 (48,739). If the EV market maintains its general pace in the second half of the year (hopefully recent positive macroeconomic signals indicate that this will be true), then approximately 125,000 units will be sold by year end. The majority of these sales have been generated by five manufacturers: Nissan (15,758), Ford (13,314), General Motors (11,977), Toyota (11,285), and Tesla (7,900). It is doubtful, at best, that any company will surpass or even keep pace with Nissan. However, a strong July for GM and a weak one for Ford suggests that the battle for second place may tighten in the coming months. The Nissan LEAF was the only EV to sell over 3,000 units this month and the Chevrolet Volt was the only other EV to break 2,000 sales.
Here is the breakdown of July’s sales by the leading brands:
The LEAF was the best selling EV for the sixth straight month this year with 3,019 units sold. Sales grew by 28% over June. This is the second month this year (and its second best selling month in 2014) in which the LEAF sold 3,000 units; it was the only EV to do so. As expected, the LEAF remains to be the most popular EV on the market.
Given that the LEAF”s success is expected each month, the Volt was the big winner in July. With 2,020 units sold, the Volt topped 2,000 units in a month for the first time this year and completed its fifth straight month of positive month-to-month sales growth. Volt sales increased by 14% over June sales numbers, the first month to break 10% growth since March. The Volt is, perhaps surprisingly, the only EV to experience positive growth in month-to-month sales every month this year. As the second best-selling EV and the best-selling PHEV, Chevrolet has a right to be excited about the Volt.
The Prius PHV continued to stumble in July. With only 1,371 units sold, sales fell by 13% from June and declined for the second straight month. July saw the 3rd fewest Prius PHVs sold and was the model’s worst month since February. The Prius PHV was, however, still the third best-selling EV and second best-selling PHEV this month. Despite back-to-back weak months, it is the second most popular EV 2014 YTD. Its edge over the Volt has all but deteriorated, however. The Prius PHV has only sold 36 more units than the VOLT YTD. If the Volt continues to grow its sales from month-to-month, this near statistical tie may change into a sizable gap.
Tesla Model S
Of the market leading brands, the Tesla Model S had the worst month. Since Tesla does not release monthly sales data, the numbers used are estimates made by Insideevs.com. According to them, Tesla only sold 500 units of the Model S this month making it the brand’s worst month in 2014. Sales fell by 72%. An abysmal July snapped the Model S’s five straight months of 1,000+ units sold.
Ford (Fusion Energi, C-Max Energi)
July was unkind to Ford, the second biggest loser this month, as both of its top selling brands, the Fusion Energi and the C-Max Energi, sold fewer units than they did in June. The Fusion Energi was the second best selling EV in June; it was the 4th this month. Its 1,226 units sold in July were 37% fewer than were sold in June. The Fusion Energi has displayed an odd sales pattern in 2014, a cyclical pattern. Since January, month-to-month sales growth has been positive for two consecutive months followed by a drop in the third month. February sales were greater than January’s and March’s were greater than February’s but April’s number declined relative to March. This trend repeated itself: May sales grew over April sales and June sales were larger than May’s but July’s sales shrank relative to June’s. This pattern does not reflect the sales pattern of the overall EV market nor is it similar to any other model, except for the C-Max Energi. Ford’s sales seem to be collinear with each other but not with any other brand nor the market itself. As for the C-Max Energi, it sold 16% fewer units in July (831) than it did in June (988).
On the bright side for Ford, the Fusion Energi sold over 1,000 units for the third straight month and July was model’s third best month this year. The Fusion Energi and the C-Max Energi are the fourth and fifth most popular EVs on the market, respectively.
The i3 received significant attention prior to its release in May of this year. In its first three months, the i3 has performed well compared to most EV models (Smart ED, Fiat 500e, Panamera S-E, the Ford Focus Electric, etc). However, with sales stabilizing around 350-360 units per month, BMW is not posing a serious challenge to the five major EV manufacturers. July’s sales grew by 1%l over June’s which only grew by 6% over its inaugural sales in May. If the i3 maintain’s its current pace, it will outsell the 500e, the Ford Focus Electric, and even the Smart ED by year’s end. It will not, most likely, come close to match the C-Max Energi’s monthly sales let alone the more popular EV models.