Friday, February 26, 2016

2016 Plug-in Market growth prediction for the USA market

It's time to take a look at what the 2016 sales profile of plug-in cars will look like.

In early 2015, I posted numerous times in article comments on InsideEVs that 2015 didn't look like it would be much of a growth year for Plug-In vehicles in the USA.  I said growth in 2015 would simply be about 5% over 2014 for all plug-ins for the entire year.  Many were excited to see "exponential growth" of the plug-in market but I looked at the recent as a "stair-step" type of growth curve potential with some fits-and-starts.  2015 would be a "step" in the stair-step model.

2015 was below 2014 for total sales of plug-ins in the USA. shows us that total sales were 116,099 for 2015 and 122,438 for 2014.

Why was 2015 "worse" than 2014?   A few reasons.  First, large incentives in Georgia were lifted such that the $5000 rebate available for as little as a 2-year, 20,000 mile total lease for a Nissan Leaf was not available.  Such big incentives made Georgia a top five plug-in sales state.  No new incentives for 2016 exist in any state other than extensions of HOV lane access stickers in California for PiHV and BEV drivers.

2016 growth should be anchored around a few specific changes in vehicle choices.

Chevy Volt Generation 2 is now out with the 2017 mode and will be nationwide by late spring.
Nissan Leaf gets a higher-mileage vehicle for 2016.
Tesla Motors has started to slowly deliver Model X and may sell up to 20,000 worldwide during 2016 with a good 2/3 or more inside the USA.  They also have positioned many hundreds of Model S vehicles at Tesla showrooms for "immediate sale" otherwise known as "lot cars".

I expect 2016 to be a sales growth year - over 2015.  I expect no more than 7.5% growth of the plug-in vehicle sales number over 2015 so that makes for a sales target of:   125,000    This is a number slightly bigger than 2014 but again, "not exponential".

What I also see happening is that used PiHV and BEV are on the market now and attracting a second tier buyer.  These are being bought-up instead of new PiHV cars by those who may want to own an EV but not pay full price thinking they would be hit by the high depreciation of new plug-ins.