EV Sales, While Still Low in Numbers, Saw Triple-Digit Growth in 2018

Has the electric vehicle’s moment finally arrived? While it’s been predicted for decades, predictions have not yet turned to reality in the U.S. There are, however, some significant sales figures from 2018 that look encouraging for the EV market.

While some EV models declined in sales in the fourth quarter of 2018 (notably, the BMW i3, the Chevy Bolt and the Ford Focus Electric), others seemed to be on fire. Sales of the Nissan Leaf grew 722 percent in the last quarter of 2018, and the Tesla Model 3 (unsurprisingly) saw sales that were more than 3,800 percent higher in Q4 of 2018 compared to Q4 of 2017. Growth on the Tesla Model X was 11.8 percent, and the Model S saw very modest 1.8 percent growth.

All in all, 88,962 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2018, representing a growth rate of 130 percent for the year, and 210.4 for the fourth quarter alone. For the full year, the BMW i3 saw total growth of 3.9 percent, the Nissan Leaf sales grew at 43 percent.

December marked a particularly good sales month for EVs. Based on automakers’ sales numbers, InsideEVs reported that a total of 49,900 plug-in electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in December 2018, compared to December 2017’ 26,107 and November 2018’s 42,588.

“It’s been a solid year for EV sales as a whole, even though most of the progress was made by a single automaker,” according to Inside EVs. “The months of August, September, October, and November racked up sales figures that more than doubled those of last year. Our early estimation put December at over 48,000 EVs sold. We’ll be honest to say that we were a bit concerned when GM’s quarterly numbers came in. Nonetheless, Toyota, Honda, BMW, and Nissan stepped it up to more than make up for the difference.”

But while growth may be positive, the U.S. still has a lot of catching up to do with EVs compared to many other nations. In Norway, for example, final sales numbers show that nearly a third of new vehicles registered last year were electric. China recently passed the one million EVs sold annually mark in December. Some analysts believe that the predicted March release of the Tesla Model Y crossover, which will be priced for the mass market, could stimulate even better growth of EVs in 2019.