Plug-in electric car sales fall in Jan after year-end surge (further update)

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2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

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While 2017 saw higher U.S. sales of plug-in electric cars than any previous year, expectations for 2018 sales are running even higher.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV will be available in all 50 states for a full year, the new 2018 Nissan Leaf with a 151-mile range is now on sale, and of course the Tesla Model 3 will be a factor.

How much of a factor remains to be seen, as Model 3 deliveries seem to have risen during January but numerous owners have told Green Car Reports of quality problems with their newly delivered Teslas.

DON'T MISS: Electric-car sales in 2017 set new record: just under 200,000

We won't know much about Tesla deliveries in any case until early April's first-quarter deliveries report, unless CEO Elon Musk chooses to discuss it during the February 7 conference call on last year's company financial results.

Meanwhile, Thursday and Friday are sales-reporting days, and it appears that January numbers are considerably lower than the year-end blowout totals in December 2017.

Chevrolet logged sales of 1,177 Bolt EVs and 713 Volts, versus 3,227 and 1,937 in December—underscoring the double effect of the year-end sales push and lower plug-in sales in winter months.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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Deliveries of the Nissan Leaf, which fell to just 102 in December as stocks of the outgoing 2017 model approached zero, were 150.

The company did not initially break out how many of those were the new 2018 Leaf, which went on sale January 23, and how many were remaining 2017 models.

We asked for clarification; Nissan declined to provide it.

READ THIS: China plug-in electric vehicle sales in 2017: almost four times those in the U.S.

Other battery-electric vehicles with notable sales volume include the BMW i3, which logged 382 sales last month—amusingly, the exact same number as in January 2017.

The Volkswagen e-Golf came in at just 178 deliveries, its lowest number since March 2016, though it followed a December 2017 total of 343, a six-month high.

The Honda Clarity Electric logged 203 deliveries in its sixth month on sale, less than half its November and December numbers.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime, Dallas, Texas

2017 Toyota Prius Prime, Dallas, Texas

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Among plug-in hybrids, the Toyota Prius Prime came in at 1,496, more than doubling the Volt's 713 January sales.

The Audi A3 e-tron sold 145 units, about on pace with the last six months of 2017 but considerably below the tempo it set in the prior 18 months.

The plug-in hybrid Honda Clarity, meanwhile, fell back to 534 units after a stunning 898 in December 2017, only its first full month on the market.

CHECK OUT: When do electric-car tax credits expire? (updated for 2018)

Ford delivered 640 Energi plug-in hybrid versions of the Fusion mid-size sedan and just 240 of the now-discontinued C-Max compact tall wagon on Friday, along with 113 Focus Electric compliance cars.

We don't as yet have sales reports for the T8 plug-in hybrid versions of the Volvo XC60 and XC90 crossover utility vehicles.

One factor that may affect sales later this year will be the start of the phasing-down of federal income-tax credits for purchase of a battery-powered vehicle for a couple of makers as each reaches 200,000 plug-in vehicles sold in the U.S.

2017 Tesla Model 3, 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show

2017 Tesla Model 3, 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show

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Tesla seems likely to hit that number first. While it refuses to break out its deliveries by market, its U.S. sales thus far are likely 160,000 to 170,000 electric cars.

Through December 2017, GM had sold 168,183 plug-in cars—Chevy Volts, Spark EVs, and Bolt EVs, plus Cadillac ELRs and CT6 PHEVs—and Nissan had sold 114,825 Leafs.

Note that not every one of those U.S. sale results in a credit that counts toward the total, either--although most of them will.

We will update this report as the last remaining figures on sales data come in.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As of May 2017, this monthly report covers only plug-in electric cars with sales of 100 units a month or more—with occasional exceptions for new models, exceptionally large changes in sales volume, or other newsworthy events.

 
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