After a summer-long slump, electric vehicle sales finally showed some life in October. Strong performances by the redesigned Chevy Volt and supporting players gave the segment its first gains in months. As we noted on our roundup of that period, new models on the plug-in market bode well for a class of cars about to enter its second generation in America.
In November, the segment posted gains of 9.5% (year over year) as we saw the 2016 Nissan Leaf and all-new Hyundai Sonata PHEV join the party. It was the highest sales total since May. If a lack of choices has hurt the electrified market in a sluggish year, a correction could take place once we wrap 2015.
As we look forward to the possibilities, established electric car makers continue to dominate the scene. Here are five takeaways from U.S. electric vehicle sales in November. Thanks to InsideEVs.com for the sales figures.
1. Tesla is finishing strong
For whatever reason, Tesla’s monthly sales (as reported by InsideEVs) fluctuate a great deal every month, which explains why the automaker does not release monthly figures. In any event, Tesla had its best month of 2015 with an estimated 3,200 Model S EVs sold in November. Not since December 2014 has Model S seen such numbers, and it represented about 30% of the entire market in November. Will it be enough to help the manufacturer meet its 2015 sales goals? Without a huge December, we don’t see it happening. For the curious, five units of the Model X SUV sold as well.
2. The 2016 Volt is the hottest ticket
The newly-minted Green Car of the Year looks like the hottest ticket on dealer lots for EV buyers despite being available in only 11 states. Chevy sold 1,980 units of the 2016 Volt in November, which crushed its performance last year by about 50% and outsold the Nissan Leaf by over 900 cars. Some of those were still the outgoing models getting rushed out the door to make way for the new edition featuring 53 miles of range. By 2016, we’re expecting a head-to-head showdown between the Volt and Model S for segment supremacy. (Yes, we’re comfortable calling the new Volt an EV.)
3. Volkswagen is trending electric
October was a record month for the Volkswagen e-Golf in America as the Dieselgate scandal took hold of the narrative. In November, the automaker saw a 25% drop across its brand lineup stateside, but the one EV on the lot sold quite well with 472 models delivered. That figure was the e-Golf’s second-best showing to date after the big October surge (596 sales). Even with a low number of available models at U.S. dealerships, it appears the company’s electric efforts are paying off as it transitions away from diesel.
4. BMW’s crossover PHEV has an audience
While the BMW i3 continues to hold fourth place on the U.S. plug-in market, the X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid is acquitting itself well after two months on dealer’s lots. BMW moved 167 units of this $62,100 PHEV in November, which allowed it to crack the top 10 in American EV sales. While 167 is not a huge number by any stretch, it was more than Porsche managed with its Cayenne S E-Hybrid (121) and Panamera S E-Hybrid (33) combined.
5. Ford plug-in hybrids remain relevant
With their extended runs on the U.S. market, the Ford plug-in hybrids don’t get a great deal of press but continue to be workhorses on the sales charts. In November, the Fusion Energi posted 944 sales, fourth best on the plug-in market and a 25% improvement over its 2014 performance. Meanwhile, C-MAX Energi sold 639 units, good enough for sixth place. These two models continue to put up respectable numbers every month for Ford and will end up in fifth (Fusion) and sixth place (C-MAX) among plug-ins by year’s end.