When Will an EV Crack the Top 25 Selling Autos in the US Ranking?

To date, no EV – either plugin hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric (BEV) – has come anywhere close to breaking into the top 25 sales chart for autos in the US. The 5,850 estimated units of the Tesla Model S sold in December of 2016, would rank 75th in the month of June 2017.

This is significant for many reasons, but fundamentally it is about the math. For EVs to reach mass adoption, at least a few models will need to start selling in significant volumes and break into or come close to the top 25 sales ranking.

Top 25 US Auto Sales – By Model (Through June 2017)

Rank
Vehicle
June 2017 Sales
% Change over June 2016
Model Type
Current Hybrid, PHEV, BEV or FCV Versions?
Future (new) Hybrid, PHEV, BEV or FCV Versions? - Type
Future (new) Hybrid, PHEV, BEV or FCV Versions?-
Estimated Launch Year
Total683,638144.90%83
1Ford F-Series77,8959.80%PickupNoHybrid2020
2Chevrolet Silverado50,5151.70%PickupNoNoNA
3Ram P/U43,0735.00%PickupNoNoNA
4Toyota RAV434,12024.70%Small CUV/SUVHybridNoNA
5Nissan Rogue32,53318.60%Small CUV/SUVHybridNoNA
6Toyota Corolla31,051-4.50%Small sedanNoNoNA
7Honda Civic30,909-2.80%Mid-sized sedanHybridNoNA
8Honda Accord29,7913.40%Mid-sized sedanHybridNoNA
9Toyota Camry29,463-9.50%Mid-sized sedanHybridNoNA
10Chevrolet Equinox29,18249.00%SUVNoNoNA
11Honda CR-V28,342-4.30%Small crossoverNoHybrid2018
12Nissan Altima28,042-8.00%Mid-sized sedanNoNoNA
13Ford Escape27,151-6.40%Small SUVNoNoNA
14Ford Explorer24,28519.30%Mid-sized SUVNoNoNA
15Nissan Sentra22,5348.70%Mid-sized sedanNoNoNA
16Jeep Grand Cherokee20,17621.00%SUVNoNoNA
17Jeep Wrangler18,839-6.00%Small SUVNoNoNA
18Ford Fusion18,139-31.60%Large sedanHybrid, PHEVNoNA
19Toyota Highlander17,23728.30%Mid-sized SUVHybridNoNA
20Toyota Tacoma16,4434.00%PickupNoNoNA
21Ford Focus15,575-20.10%HatchbackBEVNoNA
22GMC Sierra15,473-8.30%PickupNoNoNA
23Subaru Forester15,44028.40%Small SUVNoNoNA
24Subaru Outback14,0194.50%Small SUVNoHybrid2018
25Ford Edge13,41120.00%CrossoverNoNoNA

In the month of June 2017, the top 25 selling vehicles in the US accounted for 46.5% of all autos sold. Using the 287 cars tracked by GoodCarBadCar.net, that means that the top 25 comprise only 8.7% of available vehicles, but sell more than 5 times that.

Within the top 25, there is not a single stand alone PHEV or BEV, but two vehicles – the Ford Fusion Energi (PHEV) and Ford Focus BEV – are available as EV versions of the regular internal combustion engine (ICE) models.

However their sales numbers are rather tiny, comprising only 3.9% for the Fusion and 0.7% of total Focus sales. In fairness to Ford, the Energi sales numbers are actually respectable considering the PHEV competes with about a dozen combinations of the Fusion in ICE and regular hybrid options. Further, the 3.9% is well ahead of the overall EV sales as a percent of total auto sales of 1.17%.

On the downside, those two Ford EV models only comprise 0.06% of the top 25 models sold in June. We have a long way to go.

Percent EV Sales of Top 25 Selling Shared Models in US

Is the Future of EVs New Models or Modified Versions of Existing Models/Platforms?

In EV discussion forums I often see strong debate around whether future EVs from the incumbent auto manufacturers will be new from the ground-up models, or updated platforms of existing models. I think we will see a combination of both approaches, with most PHEVs being modified platforms of existing models and most BEVs being built new from the ground up.

If we take a look at several of the current crop of EVs, we see a mixed bag approach:

  • BMW i3 (new model)
  • BMW 3303, 530e, X5 XDrive 40e, 740e  (PHEV versions of ICE models)
  • Chevrolet Bolt (new model/platform)
  • Chevrolet Volt (based on Chevrolet Cruze ICE platform)
  • Ford Fusion Energi (PHEV version of ICE model)
  • Ford Focus EV (BEV version of ICE model)
  • Kia Soul EV (BEV version of ICE model
  • Fiat 500e (BEV version of ICE model)
  • Hyundai Ioniq PHV, Electric (new platform)
  • Hyundai Sonata PHV (PHEV versions of ICE model)
  • Mercedes-Benz B250e (BEV version of ICE model)
  • Mercedes S550e, C350e, GLE550e (PHEV versions of ICE models)
  • Nissan LEAF (new model/platform)
  • Porsche Cayenne S-E, Panamera S-E (PHEV versions of ICE models)
  • Toyota Prius Prime (PHEV version of hybrid model/platform)
  • Volvo SC-90 (PHEV versions of ICE model)
  • VW eGolf (BEV version of ICE model)

If we peer into the crystal ball of future EVs, however, it seems that only a handful out of more than 50 announced EVs (data coming soon) from the major incumbent manufacturers will PHEV or BEV versions of existing models. However, there is an asterisk to this point. Most of the future EVs that have been announced or teased, are from manufacturers that don’t have a single vehicle on the list of top 25.

The auto companies with big plans for new EVs tend to be the European luxury/performance brands or Chinese companies that may enter the US in the next 5-7 years.

But six huge car companies – Ford, GM, FCA, Honda, Toyota and Nissan – produce 23 out of the top 25 selling autos. The outlier being Suburu with numbers 23 and 24. None of these companies, however, have actually announced any significant plans for new EVs in the coming 5 years. (Note: If you say “What about Ford?” They’ve announced 1 non-commerical SUV BEV maybe in 2020 and regular hybrid versions of the F-150 and Mustang.)

So realistically, for the next 5 years we are likely to see a significant battle (especially among luxury brands) for EV sales among the 50-100 top-selling cars. The Tesla Model 3 has the best shot at being the first EV (of any kind) to break into the top 25 – perhaps as soon as Q1 of 2018 if the company can achieve its production goals. But Tesla’s crossover cousin, the Model Y, will likely be the first EV to stay in and climb up the top 25 ranking on a consistent basis beginning about 2021 or so.

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