US car sales analysis 2017 Q4 – EV green cars

Segment growth tops 25% thanks in large part to Chevy Bolt, despite Tesla Model 3 struggles

Having analyzed 2017 sales of hybrid green cars and PHEV green cars, let’s look at the final green segment: electric vehicles, or EV for short. Sales of EV vehicles rose by 19.2% to 29,486 in the fourth quarter of 2017, while overall sales in 2017 rose by 25.9% to 104,195. This makes this the second-fastest of all types of vehicles, second only to the PHEV cars, but ahead of compact premium SUVs, the fastest-growing traditional segment (growth of 18%). That said, this remains the smallest of the three types of green vehicles, far behind the 370,083 sales managed by hybrids, but also below the 104,195 sales managed by EVs. Moreover, with the new Nissan Leaf arriving on the market, and the production of Tesla Model 3 bound to wrap up eventually, the segment is destined to continue growing at a healthy pace in 2018.


  • Tesla Model S retains the leadership of the segment despite losing an estimated 8% of its sales volume since 2016
  • Chevrolet Bolt had a great year – it started off strongly and built on that throughout the year, eventually outselling the Model S handily in the fourth quarter to grab second in the 2017 standings
  • Sales of Tesla Model X rose by 17%, a really good performance, though it should be noted that the absolute increase in the number of Model X’s sold only just makes up for the fall in Model S’s sales, underlying how these two models are in many ways direct competitors, no matter what the Model X’s more crossover-like appearance may suggest
  • Nissan pretty much stopped selling the outgoing first-generation Leaf in the fourth quarter, driving the overall 2017 sales figure down 20% relative to 2016, though much more indicative of the ongoing demand for the model is the fact that sales were actually up 16% in the first three quarters of the year
  • After a good start to the year, wherein both models were up around 100% in the first quarter, the sales momentum for both BMW i3 and Fiat 500e petered out throughout the year, resulting in an 18% loss for the BMW and only a marginal increase for the Fiat
  • Among the remaining electric models, Ford Focus EV did best, more than doubling its sales, putting it behind the VW e-Golf (sales down 13%) and Kia Soul EV (sales up 25%), but up on the Mercedes-Benz B-class EV (sales up 18%) and the new Honda Clarity BEV, whose sales are clearly hampered by its uncompetitive 89-mile range
  • In between the Focus and the B-class is where the new Tesla Model 3 eventually fit – while this is doubtless a huge disappointment for the company and its supporters, it also is clear there is huge demand for the model in the market, which should result in huge sales when finally Tesla resolves its production issues
  • In the battle of the fuel-cell cars Toyota Mirai easily beat out the Honda Clarity FCEV, though it’s total of under 2,000 does not bode well for the US fuel-cell car market

Note: Clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model. clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off