If you want to see real milestones for electric vehicle sales, take a look at the returns from June 2016. First, plug-ins obliterated the record for June sales with 15,040 deliveries, according to InsideEVs. That was an impressive 45% over the prior year numbers and 25% better than the previous high. Second, it was the all-time record for any month in America, passing the previous high (March 2016) by almost 1,200 units.
But the good news did not end on the prior year comps and record pace. Maybe the biggest milestone of all was the rise to significance in the overall auto industry. For the first time ever, plug-in EV sales grabbed 1% of the U.S. market share, InsideEVs reported. No matter what you say about the still-small percentage, the segment officially has a place at the table. Here are the five best-selling electric cars of this record month.
5. Nissan Leaf
Despite all the promises we’ve heard and prototypes we’ve seen, the Nissan Leaf 30 kWh remains the only EV on the market that travels over 100 miles on a charge and costs less than $35,000. (Next closest is the 208-mile Tesla Model S at $66,000.) In June, Leaf continued its less-than-stellar run in 2016 with 1,096 sales, about 35% down from the previous year.
Following a test of the Leaf SL in and around New York City, we found the best-selling EV of all time a worthy companion in Gotham. With incentives that include two free years of public charging, single occupancy carpool-lane access, and special charging rates from Con Edison on top of the $7,500 tax credit, we’d say New Yorkers have a few reasons to consider this car while Model 3 marinates out West.
4. Ford Fusion Energi
If you want a slick midsize sedan with a plug, your options are limited. The model that’s caught fire in 2016 is the Ford Fusion Energi, which is holding down third place for the first half of this year with 7,235 sales. In June, the plug-in Fusion came close to its all-time record with an even 1,700 sales — more than double its total from last June (727).
Summer always seems to be a good time for the Fusion nameplate, plugged in or not, and consumers who want Energi’s superior economy have the outgoing 2016 model available at bargain prices as well as the 2017 model available with a new trim and lower base price ($31,120). Dealers are apparently playing ball with the extra inventory they have, and customers are going for the plug-in package in volume.
3. Chevrolet Volt
The Chevrolet Volt has the most electric range for a plug-in hybrid (53 miles), a total range of 420 miles, and 106 miles per gallon equivalent combined. With those specs, it’s reasonable to wonder why this model is not the top-selling EV on the market. Nonetheless, Volt has averaged over 1,900 sales per month since March and turned in another strong showing in June with 1,937 deliveries.
That total represented better than 50% gains over 2015 and was the second-highest total for Volt in 2016. The 2017 model should be in all dealerships by now, so there is potential for this model to go higher. Volt is best-selling plug-in ever in the history of U.S. sales.
2. Tesla Model X
Tesla always has production issues to grapple with, so you can understand why the EV maker is not inclined to deliver a monthly sales report. Regardless, U.S, deliveries seem to shoot up at the end of every quarter, and InsideEVs estimated Model X had its best month ever with 2,145 sales.
With that performance, the only available electric SUV came close to Fusion Energi for third place among plug-ins in 2016. As it stands, a few more months of strong deliveries will give Model X the edge.
1. Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S lit up the competition in June with an estimated 3,700 sales, nearly 1,600 more than the second-place Model X and over 30% better than its own June performance from 2015. The Fremont-based electric car maker has seemingly found its stride in the production department this summer as it looks to ramp up deliveries later in the year.
Maybe Tesla’s penchant for end-of-quarter surges will yield to a lighter July on the U.S. market, but the arrival of new plug-in vehicles in the coming months should limit the impact of this maneuvering down the road. In the meantime, Tesla has complete control of the EV sales race with over 19,000 units (split between Model S and X) sold through the first half of the year.