It will take a few more years and a few more long-range models before the electric vehicle revolution actually begins. However, EVs on the market are already finding their share of customers. September sales totals of 16,974 plug-in cars represented an all-time high for a single month. If you like measuring progress over 12-month periods, sales surged 70%, according to InsideEVs.
Compared to the auto market as a whole, which fell 0.5% in September, electric cars are headed in the opposite direction. The plug-in segment’s 1.2% of the total market represented another all-time high. With the new Chevrolet Bolt and all-new Toyota Prius Prime headed to the U.S. market by the end of 2016, expect more records ahead.
In the meantime, Tesla and a few other automakers can celebrate their success stories now, in 2016. Here are the five best-selling EVs from a record September. Data includes estimated sales for Tesla by InsideEVs.
5. Nissan Leaf
While the Nissan Leaf has been a plug-in sales leader since it debuted in 2010, its momentum slowed in 2015. The trend continued for most of 2016, but Leaf made a comeback in September with 1,316 sales, its best showing of the year. That performance nearly guaranteed Nissan’s pioneering electric car would end the year in the top five. Following the reveal of the new Renault ZOE at the Paris Motor Show, Leaf enthusiasts hope more range comes to America soon.
4. Ford Fusion Energi
Ford Fusion Energi is one of the segment’s biggest success stories in 2016. Its 11,650 sales through the first nine months of 2016 already beat the plug-in hybrid’s total (9,750) for all of 2015. Meanwhile, September’s 1,652 sales beat the previous year’s totals by 105%. The updated 2017 model is appealing for a lower MSRP than the previous model and increased efficiency. We’re guessing the deals on the outgoing model (with $11,000 in incentives) are bolstering totals as well.
3. Chevrolet Volt
Chevrolet Volt obliterated its sales totals from September 2015 (949) with 2,031 deliveries. This 120% gain, year over year, helped power the segment to its record total. The obvious appeal of the redesigned Volt is its ability to drive mostly electric with 53 miles of range. When the battery goes empty and no chargers are in sight, drivers can go over 350 miles using the efficient gas engine. But having the option doesn’t mean drivers actually use it much. About 85% of Volt miles are on EV power.
2. Tesla Model X
Tesla may have struggled with the transition to a two-car factory, but the growing pains ended in September. The automaker set a new record for EV sales in a month with Model X (3,200, estimated) crushing its previous high set in June (2,145) and Model S continuing its own historic pace. In fact, the gains over its limited September release sales (5) accounted for a good chunk of the segment growth. So it’s easy to see how the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 will eventually shake up sales figures.
1. Tesla Model S
No electric vehicle ever topped 4,000 sales before September 2016. According to InsideEVs, Tesla Model S was the first with 4,350 (estimated) deliveries, a new record for a single car in one month. Actually, Model S represented over one quarter of the entire segment’s sales. Meanwhile, its 7,550 total brand sales rewrote the record books. Tesla outsold 13 established auto brands — including Fiat, Mini, and Land Rover — in its historic month. At 21,715 sales through the first nine months of 2016, Model S is poised to set a new record for annual sales.