US sales 2015 first half Alternative Power segment

US Alternative PowerSales in the Alternative Power segment fell by 12% compared to the first half of 2014, one of the larger drops from among all segments. In fact, only three cars sold more in the first half of 2015 than in the same period last year – Tesla Model S and BMW’s i3 and i8. This fall in sales most likely is driven by the continuing low gasoline price, as well as the expectation that this situation may continue for a long time.

You don’t get points for guessing the market leader – the Toyota Prius has dominated this segment ever since the second generation came to the American shores in 2004. However, while the introduction of the V (quasi-MPV, albeit not available in the US with 7 seats for some reason, unlike in Europe) and C (smaller model) helped the Prius to its best showing in 2012, when almost a quarter million Prius cars were sold in the US, 2015 seems like it will be the first time since then that the Prius will sell fewer than 200,000 units. I guess customers are waiting for the new model, but you have to wonder if the awkwardly-styled Mk IV is everything they were hoping for…

The Prius’ main competitors for the mantle of the top mainstream alternative power vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, never caught on with US audiences the way the Toyota did – they linger in 4th and 6th places, respectively, with sales down by more than 20% for both of them. Instead of the Leaf or Volt the second spot is actually occupied by the unassuming Ford C-Max, a European mainstay which is sold in the US only as a Prius-rivalling non-plug-in hybrid. At least in Volt’s case you can hope that the more sleekly-styled, specious and supposedly more optimized new model will bring some of the customers back – the future does not look too bright for the Leaf. It will be interesting whether the new battery tech that Carlos Ghosn keeps alluding to will make its way into the Mk II, and whether the (presumed) longer range will convince more people to buy one.

2015 H1 Alternative Power

In third place is the Tesla Model S, a car which has been a resounding success not just in the Alternative Power segment but also in the Premium Limousine one, where it outsells all bar the S-Class. With the Model X SUV going on sale right now it would take a foolish man to bet against Tesla going from strength to strength, at least until the competition catches on with the likes of Porsche Mission E and Audi e-Tron Quattro.

In fifth place is the Lexus CT, Prius’ posh brother, and in fact Lexus’ second attempt at a standalone hybrid model – the hapless HS was pulled from the market in 2012 after just four years. But while Lexus failed the first time around the same does not seem to be happening for BMW, whose i3 and i8 are doing very well given their price, with the former selling almost as many units as the Volt in 7th place.

From 8th place down is a very clear second league, with the likes of Honda CR-Z and Insight in 8th and 10th, respectively, and the electric-only Mercedes-Benz B-Class in 9th place. In fact, the lowly position of the latter (barely more than 1,000 units in H1 2015) proves that consumers really aren’t that hip on electric-only cars; its sales figures make the Leaf look like a success. But you could always do worse, I guess, as the Cadillac ELR (Volt’s hideously overprices cousin) and Mitsubishi i-Miev prove, the former barely cracking 500 units and the latter not even cracking 100…

About Krzysztof Wozniak

Kriss grew up in Poland reading German car magazines, before moving to England and graduating to the British magazines, which he still considers the best in the world and continues reading them after he’d moved to the US. In college he promised himself he’s buy himself a used Porsche before he turned 30 (not to be accused of having a mid-life crisis), but instead family needs dictated a Subaru Outback. Still waiting for that perfect moment to buy a used 2008-ish Cayman…
You can find all his articles Here.


  1. I like all your articles actually but this one should go to the UK government to prompt them into following the Netherlands in promoting EVs. It was interesting to see that Tesla have centred production local to the market just like BMW have picked the US for CFRP production

    • Krzysztof Wozniak says:

      @Patrick Littlehales – I thought that the British government did encourage EVs thorough government grants of up to 5,000 pounds?

  2. Why 500e sales are not included? Some other sites have that on that so it should be possible.

  3. Krzysztof Wozniak says:

    @Felipe – the short-term answer is that our data source does not break out 500e sales; the long-term answer is that we should incorporate any and all information we can find into our statistics. Do you have any links handy to the sites that break out the 500e sales?

  4. Hello,

    500e is one of the top selling vehicles with over 5000 ytd.

    It does give this info about 500e:

    **Fiat 500e numbers come from the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. They are only registration totals for California, but given that the 500e is hardly sold outside of California, we just use those totals as our cautious estimate of 500e sales.

    Maybe somewhere inside there is the info, either that or simply take the info from evobsession.

  5. Krzysztof Wozniak says:

    @Felipe – thanks for this, I will look into incorporating these number, though I’m not sure we’re fully OK with including them given that they’re only estimates

Let me know what you think of this article. Thanks!