Electric vehicle sales soar in 2016, Tesla leads the pack

Guest Blog Post: Charles Morris is the Senior Editor of Charged, the magazine of electric vehicles, for which he writes a daily blog and regular print articles. He's also written five books including Tesla Motors: How Elon Musk and Company Made Electric Cars Cool, and Sparked the Next Tech Revolution.

2016 was an electrifying year. After falling back a bit the previous year, US plug-in electric vehicle sales posted huge gains. 159,139 EVs and PHEVs changed hands in 2016, a 37% increase over 2015’s 116,099. Global sales are likely to top 700,000, an increase of at least 27%. And, as sales grow, attitudes are changing in industry boardrooms, from Toyota to Chrysler to Ford, and in the media - longtime EV skeptics and even former Tesla-haters such as Top Gear are changing their tunes.


Above: For electric vehicle sales in 2016, Tesla Model S leads the pack (Image: Taiwan Business via Tesla)

Gains were made across the board - the Chevy Volt was one of several models to set a new monthly record, and saw its annual sales grow by 61% over 2015. Toyota’s Prius Prime made the biggest debut in plug-in history in November, and followed that up with an even stronger month in December. The pure electric Chevy Bolt also made a strong showing in its first month on the market. Even the California compliance cars are selling better than ever.


Above: U.S. electric vehicle sales in 2016 (Source: InsideEVs*)

The star of the show however, is Tesla, which sold more plug-in vehicles than any other automaker in 2016, and took both the #1 and #2 spots for the month of December. Model S set a new all-time monthly record with 5,850 sales, and Model X did so as well with 3,875. Full-year US sales were 29,421 for Model S (#1) and 18,223 for Model X (#3, behind the Volt).


Above: Tesla deliveries growth from 2012 - 2016 (Source: InsideEVs*)

Tesla’s huge December may have something to do with the fact that the Fremont factory had some trouble getting Autopilot 2-enabled cars out the door in October and November, while the company was scrambling to meet its projected global deliveries of 80,000. In the end, Tesla missed its guidance figure, but not by much - it delivered around 76,230 EVs in 2016. Investors seem to be happy with this, and are also celebrating good news from China and Nevada, so TSLA stock has climbed over the past couple of weeks, in anticipation of an even bigger 2017.


*Source: InsideEVs / InsideEVs