January is the slowest month for the electric car market, and you have to expect a big downturn after December which has been the biggest month for EV sales since the segment took flight. That pattern held in the first, snowy month of 2016, when plug-in sales in the U.S. hit 6,291 units, according to the InsideEVs monthly report card. While that total did not reach half the amount of a record December, the electrified market can celebrate a new record for the month of January.
Because of the all-new and redesigned models now on the market, there are no clear sales patterns established for many of the electric vehicles in U.S. dealerships. Models like the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, Volvo XC90 T8, and Tesla Model X are seeing about as many deliveries as inventory allows. Unlike much of the gasoline vehicle market, supply issues still play a major role in how EVs are sold.
Nonetheless, there were undeniable winners on the EV market in January, and most of them are plug-in hybrids. Here are the five electric vehicles that powered record sales in the first month of 2016.
1. Tesla Model X
Though Tesla only delivered an estimated 370 units of the Model X, the all-electric SUV’s performance was meaningful in two ways. First, it placed fifth on the month among plug-in vehicles, which is impressive given its inventory limitations. (According to InsideEVs, all 370 were pricey Signature editions.) Second, it boosted Tesla’s total sales to an estimated 12,200 vehicles, which beats the automaker’s numbers from January 2015 (1,100). There are many indications that the second volume offering from the pioneering EV maker will be as important to the market as its first, which in turn bodes well for Model 3 development.
2. Chevy Volt
If you want to see how plug-in cars reached a sales record in January, look no further than the gains made by the new Chevy Volt, which topped the charts with 996 sales on the month. That figure amounted to a 84% increase over its meager total from last year (542) when the original “EV with range extender” dealt with late-model-cycle issues. Chevy managed the big month with the Volt available in just 10 states. When the 2017 model makes its way to the entire U.S., we could see the numbers explode for a vehicle now offering 53 miles of electric range.
3. Volvo XC90 T8
In its first full month of availability, the Volvo XC90 T8 cracked the top 10 on the plug-in list with 226 sales. That number destroyed its own previous high-water mark of 77 and bested the BMW i3’s total. That’s quite an achievement for a vehicle with a base price of $68,100. While the plug-in hybrid XC90 offers the lowest amount of electric range (14 miles) of the models on this list, drivers will still get a significant portion of low-carbon travel from this SUV. Meanwhile, its 53 miles per gallon (combined gas-electric) is positively Prius-like. Compare that to the average SUV flying off dealership lots.
4. Ford Fusion Energi
After a strong second half of 2015, the Fusion Energi took a slight step back with 581 sales in January. However, that was better than most other plug-ins did, representing the fourth-highest total on the board and a 36% gain, year over year. An improved model of the plug-in Fusion promising better efficiency (if not range) debuted at Ford’s Detroit Auto Show presentation, so it will be interesting to see if the allure of the new version pulls on sales later in the year. For now, the 2016 model is doing well enough.
5. Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron had the makings of a winner when the plug-in’s pricing was announced, and its first full month on the market came with 327 sales. That total was good for eighth on the list of electrified vehicles for January and came within one sale of matching the Volkswagen e-Golf (328) for seventh place. What’s appealing about the A3 e-tron? On top of the $37,900 sticker price, available incentives, and 16 miles of electric range, Audi throws in a home charger with the purchase. It’s the perfect way to sweeten the deal when selling an electric car.
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