By any measure, 2016 was a huge year for electric car sales. First, the grand total of 159,139 deliveries (per InsideEVs) marked an all-time high for the segment, pummeling the previous record from 2014 (122,438) by nearly 30%. Second, every month of the year saw gains, year over year. Third, as a perfect climax, December’s 24,785 sales shattered the previous monthly record (17,224) by over 40%. Plug-ins rewrote every chapter of the segment’s history over the 12-month span.
In the year’s final months, shining examples of second-generation EVs entered the marketplace. Topping the list were the Toyota Prius Prime and Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first affordable model featuring 200-plus miles of range. Both models helped boost record totals at the end of the year, but the heavy lifting was done by other models from Tesla, Ford, and GM, the trio occupying the top four sales spots.
Here are the 10 best-selling EVs of 2016.
10. Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
The first Audi plug-in model to reach the U.S. market had a solid first year. A3 Sportback e-tron, which offers up to 17 miles on electric power before flipping to gas, sold 4,280 units in 2016. That performance was enough to box out Volkswagen e-Golf (3,937) from the top 10.
9. Fiat 500e
Every year since its 2013 debut, Fiat 500e placed in the top 10 in U.S. plug-in sales. In 2016, 500e kept the streak alive by selling 5,330 units. This all-electric model covers an EPA-estimated 84 miles on a full charge. Up to $14,000 in incentives may be applied to 500e’s MSRP of $31,800, making it a steal for California consumers.
8. BMW X5 xDrive40e
BMW’s plug-in hybrid version of the X5 crossover had a big debut year in the U.S. xDrive40e, as someone decided to name it, sold 5,995 units in 2016. Compared to BMW 330e, the plug-in hybrid sedan that sold 870 units in 10 months, xDrive40e sold seven times as many vehicles for BMW.
7. BMW i3
Overall, BMW i3 had its worst sales year to date in 2016. Averaging just over 600 units per month, it ended up with a total of 7,625 sales, down about 30% from 2015. On the bright side, BMW introduced a model with a larger battery (94 Ah) that extended the EV’s range to 114 miles on a full charge.
6. Ford C-Max Energi
Since its debut in 2013, Ford C-Max Energi has been remarkably consistent, placing in the top six in plug-in sales every year. In 2016, the C-Max plug-in hybrid improved upon its 2015 mark (7,591) with 7,957 sales. It’s capable of 19 miles in electric mode before switching over to the hybrid powertrain.
5. Nissan Leaf
While Tesla Model S claimed nearly every EV record there is in 2016, Nissan Leaf held onto one: most sales in a calendar year (30,200 in 2014). Actually, Leaf has placed in the top five every year since it debuted in 2010. That’s seven consecutive years atop the segment. In 2016, Nissan sold 14,006 units of its pioneering electric car.
4. Ford Fusion Energi
In 2016, Ford Fusion Energi had its best year since entering the EV market in 2013. The midsize plug-in hybrid sedan sold 15,938 units altogether, crushing its 2015 total by over 60%. Ford introduced a refreshed model during the year at a lower price point, and it never stopped selling.
3. Tesla Model X
Production constraints and all, Tesla Model X vaulted up the sales charts in 2016, its first full year on the market. The all-electric SUV sold a total of 18,223 units to U.S. consumers on the year, which is the most for any EV not named Model S since 2014. Model X peaked in December with 3,875 sales, the fourth-highest total ever for a plug-in on the U.S. market.
2. Chevrolet Volt
The headlines may have been about the Bolt EV’s debut in December, but Chevrolet Volt set a record for plug-in hybrids with 3,691 sales. Volt had only topped 3,000 units once before (August 2013), and the strong finish gave the model its best year to date: 24,739 sales. Offering 53 miles of electric range before turning hybrid, Volt is a solution for most households.
1. Tesla Model S
For the second straight year, Tesla Model S was the best-selling plug-in model on the U.S. market. The Palo Alto-based company delivered 29,421 units of this car to American customers on the year. That figure included Model S’s record monthly total of 5,850 sales in December. Though Tesla surely hoped for more before year’s end, the automaker’s flagship EV closed 2016 in grand fashion. Expect Model S to shatter any remaining sales records in 2017.
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