Sales in the Alternative Power segment fell by 4% in 2015 to 116,065, as cheap fossil fuel caused car buyers away from small cars, hybrids and EVs and into crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks. Sales of EVs and PHEVs in Europe, where gas is less cheap, totaled 189,461 units, up 94%. Short sighted Americans? Well, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles is betting on gasoline to stay cheap for at least a decade as it doubles down on trucks and will forgo sedans and electric cars. Still, EVs and PHEVs are here to stay and Tesla is determined to prove all the others wrong. Its has won its first battle, as a 51% increase in sales has helped the Model S become the best selling electrified vehicle in the United States with over 25,000 sales. The Nissan Leaf drops to second place and loses 43% of its volume, as competition in its price range intensified and an updated version is on its way, promising more range.
The Chevrolet Volt is down 18% and into third place, and its will be joined in 2016 by the Bolt EV, which should give GM the edge over Tesla’s upcoming Model 3, which was promising a similar price ($35,000) and range (>200 miles) as the Bolt. The BMW i3 shows impressive growth with sales up 81% into fourth place of the segment, selling almost as many units in the US as it does in Europe. It moves ahead of two Ford plug-in hybrids, the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi, both down in the low double digits. The Fiat 500e improves 21% to 6,194 sales (almost a quarter of all Fiat 500 sales in the US!), despite FCA claiming to lose $10,000 on each unit sold and their disinterest in electric mobility. Volkswagen’s e-Golf may be closing in on the Leaf in Europe, but in the US it’s still far behind. Still, over 4,000 sales in its first full year is not at all bad, especially considering this is 18% of all non-GTI, non-R sales of the Golf hatchback.
The Toyota Prius Plug-in crashes from fourth place in 2014 to ninth place in 2015 as the new fourth generation Prius is on its way. That car may look terrible, but it promises even better fuel economy than the previous generation, and that’s the only reason why so many people buy these cars. The Chevrolet Spark EV more than doubles its sales, and the BMW i8 even quadruples its volume, moving both past the Ford Focus Electric. So does the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which also outsells its stablemate Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, which was primarily “sold” under Daimler’s own Car2Go car-sharing program. We don’t have exact “sales” figures confirmed of the Bolloré Blue Car, which started a car-sharing program in Indianapolis under the name Blue-Indy, but according to our information 50 cars have been put in service last year.
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
Electrified SUVs are starting to make their way up the charts, with the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid leading the way before the BMW X5 xDrive40e, although the latter was introduced only in Q4 and was by far the best seller of the two by December. They were joined by the Volvo XC90 in Q4 as well, and then there’s the all-electric Tesla Model S with its first 214 sales, which is limited by supply rather than demand. Tesla is planning to build and sell almost 40,000 of them in 2016 (not all in the US), and isn’t likely to have trouble finding buyers for them.
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk was unimpressed earlier today when the Huffington Post published an article that the Koch brothers, big players in the fossil fuel economy, are planning to spend as much as $10 million this year to promote fossil fuels to the public and the government. His reaction on twitter: “Sigh.”
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