GM, Not Tesla, Has Sold the Most EVs to Date

One of the most common, but mistaken, assumptions I see in the media and in blog comments on electric vehicle sites, is that Tesla has sold the most electric vehicles (EVs) to date in the US.

In fact, as you can see from our chart below, through June 2017, General Motors has actually sold approximately 13,000 more EVs to date than Tesla. The majority of GM’s EV sales are of course from the Chevrolet Volt.

US EV Sales to Date by Manufacturer- thru June 2017

And this is where definitions matter. While many EV advocates deride plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) as not being true EVs because the cars still have gas motors and tend to have very low electric ranges, they are EVs as defined by the IRS. And for the purposes of tracking to the 200,000 unit sales by manufacturer threshold for the Federal EV tax credit phase out, sales are tracked from January 1, 2010.

What isn’t 100% clear is how the IRS is defining which brands are considered manufacturers? But cross referencing the IRS’s IRC 30D – Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit Quarterly Sales and Index to Manufacturer pages show:

  • Mini is included under BMW
  • smart cars since 2013 are listed under Mercedes-Benz
  • Fiat and Chrysler are listed under FCA
  • Cadillac and Chevrolet are listed under General Motors.

With the definitions out of the way, through June 2017 the automakers with the most electric vehicle sales to date are: 

  1. General Motors: 142,883
  2. Tesla: 129,664
  3. Nissan: 110,845
  4. Ford: 94,225
  5. Toyota: 56,931
  6. BMW: 44,864 (includes Mini – 10)
  7. FCA: 25,608
  8. Mercedes-Benz: 11,284 (includes smart 5,618)
  9. Volkswagen: 10,413
  10. Audi: 6,434

If we looked at the ranking by just battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and do not include PHEVs, then the order changes significantly: 

  1. Tesla: 129,664
  2. Nissan: 110,845
  3. BMW: 27,733
  4. FCA: 22,794
  5. General Motors: 15,532
  6. Volkswagen: 10,413
  7. Mercedes-Benz: 9,247 (includes smart – 5,618)
  8. Ford: 7,923
  9. Kia: 3,938
  10. Mitsubishi: 2,108

With GM currently at 142,000 and Tesla at nearly 130,000 units sold in the US, both manufacturers should reach the 200,000 sales threshold sometime in 2018. Nissan is not likely to reach this threshold until at least 2019, even with an updated LEAF.