America’s Top 5 Best-Selling Plug-in Cars Through Midyear 2017

With calendar year 2017 half way over, U.S. plug-in electrified sales are at an all time high.

From January through June, sales for most models are up, and a couple new models to the top-five roster have helped with the total.

As of the end of June, the U.S. has purchased 87,307 plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs), consisting of 43,079 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and 44,228 battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Those numbers compare favorably to last January to June 2016 which tallied 63,635 PEVs comprised of 29,290 PHEVs and 34,245 BEVs. For the entirety of calendar year 2016, Americans bought a record 157,181 plug-in cars so this year is on track to set a new record.

As has been the case before, the top-five best sellers out of 33 plug-in cars tracked by the Hybridcars.com Dashboard carry the lion’s share. Their combined total is 48,416 out of 87,307.

While a few others sell in decent volumes, with so many “compliance” and low-volume cars, these nationally available plug-in vehicles are invaluable to the effort to get the market up to greater speed.

No. 5 Chevrolet Bolt EV – 7,592

General Motors’ compact crossover is rolling out this year, and ought to be nationwide by August. Sales began last December in Oregon and California – which by itself carries half the PEV sales for the country.

The 238-mile rated EV is only just edging out the outgoing Nissan Leaf, which has 7,248 sales through June, and a second-generation Leaf due September is expected to pick the pace back up for Nissan.

Bolt sales are not bad though, and compared to regular hybrids, it would rank eighth behind the Toyota Highlander Hybrid which has 8,152 sales (and the Camry Hybrid is at 8,808).

Chevrolet’s EV so far does not outsell its extended-range sibling, the Volt, and ought to soon be eclipsed by Tesla’s Model 3. GM had rushed the Bolt to market ahead of the Model 3 so it could say it was first with a 200-mile EV for under $40,000.

Tesla however is planning big volume, and the sleek sedan is not otherwise considered the same class car. By end of year, Tesla projects it will be producing 20,000 per month, and at its present rate, the Bolt will be fortunate to sell that many this entire year.

No. 4 Tesla Model X – 9,100 estimated

Tesla’s large powerful crossover SUV continues to show how the market rewards it for unique electric vehicles built because it wants to, not because it is forced to by regulations.

Sales are estimated because Tesla does not report monthly numbers.

The Model X also has not performed as well in the market as the Model S upon which it is based, but it’s not very far behind.

And it’s ahead of where it was last year, by 31.9 percent over the 6,8900 estimated sales in June 2016.

No. 3. Toyota Prius Prime – 9,692

Toyota’s second-generation plug-in hybrid Prius now has 25 miles EV range, 54 mpg in hybrid operation, and is priced from the upper 20s within the pricing range of the non-plug-in Prius.

It’s doing quite a bit better than the old Prius PHV did which was ran from 2012-2015, and as it only began rolling out this spring, its momentum has more upside potential ahead.

Notable is it’s only 592 sales ahead of Tesla’s estimated sales for Model X. That means the X may actually have more, and if so, would be third, not fourth.

The Toyota Prius Prime otherwise is not competing against the X, but rather the Chevy Volt, which it trails by a mere 1,240 sales.

It may be a close call which of the top-two plug-in hybrids finishes first in category this year.

No. 2 Chevrolet Volt – 10,932

Chevrolet’s extended-range EV is doing alright as the best-selling plug-in hybrid, and second-best-selling plug-in car of any type.

Its 10,932 sales are up 11.9 percent year over year, and last year’s 24,739 sales were its best since its Dec. 2010 launch as a model, and trailed the best-selling Model S by just around 4,400 sales.

With 53-miles EV range, it trounces all comers in the PHEV category, though Honda’s 40-mile Clarity stands to give it a run, as does the 25-mile Prius Prime which beats its gas mpg by 12 mpg, and is cheaper.

Its electric range lets it run as an EV for most drivers’ daily needs, and the car is also engaging to drive, and reasonably peppy.

As a compact-class car, it has been nicked for limited back-seat space akin to a Cruze, but the vehicle has had a relatively solid reliability record, and has amassed a vocal group of fans who admire it as a tremendous balance of attributes.

No. 1 Tesla Model S – 11,100 estimated

A car that can cost from the 60s to almost 160 if optioned to the hilt, the Model S, like the X, continues to garner more sales than mainstream PEVs for its purity of purpose and effectiveness.

In fastest P100D trim, the S is the quickest sedan sold with 0-60 in 2.5 seconds, and as a large RWD or AWD vehicle that seats five – up to seven with two rear-facing seats for small people – it is very useful.

First released in June 2012, the Model S captured the world’s imagination and propelled Tesla in its mission to get the Model 3 and further models into production.

Updated along the way, the S is the upper-level car, CEO Elon Musk has maintained, but sales this year have tapered, and are actually down 5.1 percent from 11,700 estimated through June 2016.

That’s not very far down, and it still could finish the year ahead of all the other PEVs except the Model 3, which Tesla will happily concede as the new top seller with first 30 sales beginning this month.


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