Electric Vehicle Sales in the United States: 2016 Half-Year Update

 In EV Industry

*Jan 2017 Update: We just published the 2016 final numbers for EV sales in the USA.

2016 has been a hot year.

Not just the weather outside, but also when it comes to EV sales in the United States.

After an OK start to the year, March broke the record for most sales in a month with 13,449. It didn’t hold long though, as it was quickly succeeded by June’s 15,075 sales; a whopping 49% increase over last year.

When looking at the first half of 2016 as a whole, about 64,296 new electric cars have hit the road thus far, good for a 19% increase over the same period in 2015. This is welcome news given that total US sales were down 5% in 2015. It is also encouraging to see this increase without it being the result of a real spike in gas prices.

The totals by month and model can be seen below:

2016 Electric Car Sales in the United States - Half Year2016 EV Sales in the US - Half Year - By Month

We publish electric car sales updates along with other industry trends and helpful best practices. You can subscribe to our newsletter so that you’re always kept up to date.

We’ve also seen some really interesting storylines. Particularly:

A Tesla Surge

This biggest winner so far this year has been Tesla, who put on a last-minute blitz in an attempt to polish off their Q2 sales numbers. But this time it wasn’t just with the Model S. The Tesla Model X has had impressive inaugural sales numbers, ramping from 270 sales in January all the way up to 2,180 sales in June. With over 7,000 deliveries, the Model X finds itself sitting comfortably in 4th place, even surpassing the Nissan Leaf (which we’ll get to in a second).

The Model S was no slouch either. It saw 3,700 sales in June, the highest monthly total for any EV ever.

Even with some their vehicles selling for over six-figure dollar values, it’s clear Tesla and its brand currently has a stronghold on the EV market. While competitors are finally beginning to play the same game in terms of range and driving experience, the release of the Model 3 next year will likely establish the position further.

The LEAF Seeing the Volt Affect

2016 Nissan Leaf Sales United States

Last year, we saw Volt numbers dip drastically due to the pending release of the new 2016 model. With significant improvements to range & features coming in at a comparable cost, consumers were willing to wait it out for the latest and greatest – also more formally referred to as the Osborne effect.

We’re seeing the same thing happen here with the 2016 Nissan LEAF. Nissan confirmed that the next-gen LEAF will feature a 200+ mile range, and sales have suffered in the interim. Sales in the first half of 2016 are down over 40% from the same time frame last year.

This also puts it as the 5th most popular in 2016, down from holding the 3rd spot in 2015.

As we have seen with the Volt though, sales are expected to rebound once the new model is released. Nissan just needs to do it sooner rather than later.

2016 EV Sales in the US - Half Year - Model Breakdown

BMW i3 on the Rebound?

The BMW i3 is facing a similar predicament. The 2017 model is expected to be released this fall with a 40% increase in range, up to 114 miles.

Sales to start 2016 were exceptionally abysmal. After averaging over 900 sales a month in 2015, the i3 averaged just 250 for the first 3 months of the year.

It looks like sales have rebounded rather significantly though, averaging about 700 for the past 3 months.

With the 50% increase in battery capacity, and a price likely comparable to the first-gen model, you can also expect the i3 to make a full recovery in a few months’ time.

The Chevy Spark Unphased Despite an On-Hold Rebate Program

One of the most interesting stories of the year was almost Chevrolet Spark.

Thanks to a “geared-to-income” EV rebate program introduced in California this spring (Clean Vehicle Rebate Project), you could effectively get the monthly lease cost of a Spark EV down to zero if you made under 3x the federal poverty limit.

This provided an immediate boost to the Spark EV’s sales, hitting an average of more than 400 sales in April and May, up from ~200 the few months prior.

The rebate program has since lost its funding though, at least temporarily. There is currently political wrangling in California around climate change programs, holding up the money allocated for the rebate.

When June’s sales numbers first came out, the Spark EV accounted for a magical… 14 sales. Many were taken aback by the impact the cut in funding had on the vehicle’s sales.

The number has since been corrected to 359, which actually makes for a pretty good month. It also shows that Chevrolet may have found a sweet spot in terms of value for the money, though expect production to slow as GM ramps for the upcoming 200+ mile Bolt EV.

In Summary

Some of the main highlights for 2016 electric vehicle sales in the USA so far have been:

  • Sales are forecasting well for 2016. January – June is up 19% over the same time period last year
  • Tesla has had a solid half, with both impressive Model S and Model X sales
  • LEAF sales are down over 40% as consumers await the new 200+ mile range 2017 model
  • The top 5 most popular EVs in 2016 are: Tesla Model S, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Fusion Energi, Tesla Model X, and Nissan LEAF
  • After a poor start, the BMW i3 is floating along before the release of the 2017 model
  • Chevrolet Spark has held strong despite a California rebate program being put on hold

If you have any questions/comments, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout. And if you want to be notified as soon as new electric car sales updates are published, simply enter your name and email in the subscription box down below.


EV sales data sourced from EV-Volumes.com, rounded out by the InsideEVs’ monthly scorecard.

You may also be interested in:

Recommended Posts