Saturday, May 3, 2014

Plug In Vehicle Sales Grow



Inside EVs reports that sales of electric vehicles in the USA are up by 21.8% for the first four months of the year compared with 2013.  30,580 plug ins were sold in January through April 2014 versus 25,101 in the first four months of last year. 


I had predicted 140,000 plug ins would be sold in the USA in 2014 but my prediction may be a little too high.  I had thought the Volt and the Tesla S would sell better than they have.   In fact sales of both of these models are down year on year.  The sales of the Tesla S have dropped from 7,000 to 4,900 per Inside EVs and the sales of the Chev Volt have dropped from 5,550 to 5,154 units in the first four months of each respective year.   This is an ominous sign of market saturation for these models.

The Nissan Leaf has grown sales at the expense of the Volt and the Model S.  7,272 Nissan leafs were sold in the first four months of 2014 versus 5,476 last year.  Ford and Toyota have also gained market share in the plug in space.

What is ominous for the battery suppliers is that the Fords and the Toyotas have far smaller battery packs and the total quantity of kilowatt hours of battery packs aboard plug in vehicles sold so far in the USA in 2014 is probably less than or equal to the total kwh of battery packs sold in the same period last year.  This means the market for battery packs in the plug in vehicles has already matured.  This foretells of an invalid business plan with the proposed Giga Battery Factory Tesla is planning to build.

As an example the plug in Prius that has seen sales grow well this year (5,037 units versus 2,952 units last year) only has 4.4 kilowatt hours of battery pack versus 85 kwh for the Tesla S.    There were 2,100 fewer Model Ss sold in 2014 meaning 178,500 fewer kwh of battery packs.  Only 9,382 kwh of extra battery packs were needed for the 2,085 additional Prius Plug Ins sold in 2014.


The shift away from growth in the total amount of kwh of battery packs is actually a good thing as the lithium is being shared among more motorists and the total emissions of all plug ins is being improved.   It never made much ecological sense for the few Tesla Model S owners to hog the lithium.    More auto companies are offering plug in hybrids and the path ahead for Tesla is going to be even more competitive.    From a green perspective I am all for the sharing the lithium among the maximum number of motorists to lower the collective CO2 emissions by the largest amount.  Bravo to Toyota and Ford for doing this.

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