Plug-In Hybrids Pull Away From Battery Electrics In American EV Sales Race

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For the second consecutive month, the top-selling EVs in America both come with gasoline engines to make range a non-issue.

Electric vehicle news seems dominated by two battery electric vehicles (BEVs) models these days, the Tesla Model 3, as yet unavailable, and the newly released Chevy Bolt. Meanwhile, a trend that gets little attention has continued. Electric vehicles with an on-board gasoline engine have remained more popular among affordable EVs, and for the first two months of 2017, the top two EVs in sales overall are the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) and the Prius Prime Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Through the first two months of 2017, Chevy has sold 3,431 Volts and Toyota has sold 2,728 Prius Primes. In third place is the Tesla Model S with U.S. market sales of 2,650 according to Inside EV’s best estimate. As always, Tesla refrains from releasing sales data until it is required to by law in its SEC filings. The Chevy Bolt is the top-selling affordable BEV with sales of 2,114 and fourth overall. Nissan’s Leaf is the fifth leading seller with sales of 1,809 units through March first.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Electric vehicle advocates continue to watch the Tesla Model 3 hoping it will be the break-out seller Tesla has hyped it to be. However, before the Tesla Model 3 begins to trickle forth, and nobody has every seen a production version of that small sedan, the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in will be selling in dealerships all over America. Chrysler’s new plug-in minivan has been seen and tested by the media and spokesperson, Lisa Barrow, told BestRide that “Volume production begins this quarter.” Interestingly, the Pacifica minivan will earn the full $7,500 federal discount eligibility due to its large battery size, despite being a plug-in hybrid. Unlike Tesla, Chrysler has barely used any of its allotted federal tax deduction credits. For the Model 3 from Tesla to succeed, it will have to earn sales in its second and third years of full production without federal help, since by then Tesla should have exhausted its allocation of taxpayer support.

Looking ahead to the remainder of this year, we expect that the Bolt will catch the Volt and move into first place on a monthly sales rate basis, but the Volt and Prius Prime may still challenge the Bolt for the overall top-selling EV in America in 2017. On a brand basis, Chevrolet looks to be in a good position to challenge Tesla as America’s top-selling EV brand.

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