September Electric Vehicle Sales: Tesla and BMW Charge Ahead

Model X/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The debut of the Tesla Model X dominated electric vehicle news at the close of September, but that wasn’t the only thing Elon Musk had to brag about as the calendar flipped to October. By week’s end, we also learned it was a record sales quarter for Tesla on strong showings from both Europe and the U.S.

Otherwise, September electric vehicle sales rebounded so much it was the segment’s best showing since April if you look at 2014 sales (as everyone does). The 10,134 plug-in vehicles sold in the U.S. were not far off last year’s pace of 10,921 units. As you dig deeper, it’s clear the comeback is fueled by a stronger month for Model S and a big showing by BMW, which posted a record of its own on U.S. sales charts.

Here are three big takeaways from September EV sales. Statistics are from the ever-reliable InsideEVs monthly scorecard.

1. Volt and Leaf phase-outs weren’t a factor.

Source: Nissan

Both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf have upgraded models set to debut in the fall, and the drag on sales over the summer was palpable. In September, the Volt and Leaf did not factor in as much despite showing more declines. Leaf sales (12,247 units) were fewer than half its September 2014 totals (2,881) while Volt sales dipped to 949 units, the car’s worst month since April. When the 2016 Volt and 2016 Leaf appear on the market, the segment should get a huge lift.

2. The BMW i3 blew away the competition.


How big a month did the BMW i3 have? The funky EV posted 1,710 sales in September, which obliterated its previous high of 1,159 units (October 2014) and represented more than double its August 2015 sales (792 units). In fact, only Tesla could boast of a better month among all electric vehicle makers in September. It would not be surprising if the i3 found itself in third place behind the Leaf and Model S in EV sales by the end of 2015.

3. Tesla’s record quarter featured a big U.S. rebound.

Tesla Motors Factory Model S
Source: Tesla

Despite a one-week production shutdown to accommodate the Model X on the assembly line, Tesla posted a record 11,532 deliveries around the world in the third quarter. That included just six of the EV maker’s new utility vehicle, and the rebound in the U.S. market for the Model S was considerable. According to InsideEV’s estimates, Model S sales nearly doubled from 1,300 units in August to 2,500 units in September. Elon Musk said he believed the Model X launch helped orders for its flagship sedan.

Source for sales figures: InsideEVs

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