There hasn’t been a ton of progress in the electric vehicle segment of late, but there have been a great deal of promises. Future vehicles have hinted at, teased, and suggested at a dizzying pace since summer 2015 began. Meanwhile, sales continued to fall off the humble pace set a year ago.
Optimists said the tide would turn once the new Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf hit the market. Likewise, the numerous plug-in hybrids expected to hit the U.S. market had to land sometime.
The day has finally come for America’s plug-in consumers (at least some of them). As new models hit the scene and the second-gen Volt made its grand re-entrance, here were five signs of life from EV sales in October. Thanks to InsideEVs for its ever-accurate monthly plug-in scorecard.
1. Sales gains are back
Since May 2015, every month through September showed sales declines compared to the same month in 2014. October marked a turnaround. With plug-in sales of 9,944 on the month, the segment showed narrow (2%) gains, but gains nonetheless. Even with the Toyota Prius Plug-in (91 units) and Mercedes B-Class (81 units) basically falling off the sales charts, the rest of the segment held strong (relatively speaking) from one new entry to Ford Energi models and BMW i3.
2. The 2016 Volt looks like a powerhouse
The biggest reason sales showed gains in October was the introduction of the 2016 Chevy Volt. Though the redesigned plug-in hybrid only had a few weeks on the market, old and new Volts combined to rack up 2,035 sales, the nameplate’s best month since August 2014 and a 41% increase over last year. It also beat every plug-in vehicle on the market, topping the estimated sales of the Tesla Model S.
3. BMW’s plug-in crossover is on the board
While the i3 showed consistency with 989 sales, an entirely new BMW plug-in hit the market in October. The model in question is the X5 xDrive40e PHEV crossover that comes in priced at $62,100. That sounded like a good buy to 135 U.S. customers in its first month on the market, giving it the edge over the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, its only ostensible competition at the moment. This vehicle is one to watch as the plug-in utility segment takes flight.
4. E-Golf sales picked up slack for Volkswagen.
While the Dieselgate fallout continues, Volkswagen actually posted a slight (0.25%) sales increase in October, year over year. On top of a huge surge in Tiguan crossover sales, the e-Golf had its best month to U.S. sales to date with 596 units. That shattered its previous high-water mark of 410 sales (May 2015) and put a brighter spin on what could have been rough month for the reeling automaker.
5. The second wave has begun.
On top of the BMW X5 plug-in tally, 25 Mercedes S-Class plug-in hybrids, four editions of the Tesla Model X, and one Volvo XC90 sold in October. By the time December rolls around, we will have numbers for the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron and 2016 Nissan Leaf, both of which are entering the market in the first weeks of November. With the new plug-in hybrids joining longer-range EVs, we are officially seeing the second wave of plug-in vehicles hit America. It didn’t happen a moment too soon.