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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

U.S. Plug-in Sales Zoom Past 300,000

Plug-in vehicle (PEV) sales have just passed the 300,000 mark in the U.S., according to Plug In America’s sales counter. The rollover to 300,000 happened March 11th, just before noon Pacific time. This counter is not the official sales count, rather it is an estimate based on the recent rate of sales reported by the auto industry. Even though it is an estimate, there is a possibility, if you bought a PEV this month, that you could be driving the 300,000th plug-in car on U.S. roads.

Way back in 2011, the Obama administration had set a goal for 2015 to be the year that there would be 1 million PEVs on US roadways. In January 2015, the US Energy Secretary conceded that the goal would not be met.

There are many reasons that the growth rate has been modest compared to many of the grandiose predictions from 2011. As you can see in the graph below, 300,000 cars, albeit slower than some would like, is still a nice steady growth ramp.

Unlike consumer electronics, production constraints are not easily resolved for electric cars. This will mean that plug-in vehicle growth will remain modest (linear), rather than spectacular (exponential) until Tesla's Gigafactory and its emulators are online. This is in-line with previous predictions we've made here that says PEV sales will remain relatively small but growing until 2020.

2014 saw new plug-in vehicles introduced by BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and others. 2015 will continue this trend and could be the first year that PHEV SUVs come to the U.S. market; thereby opening PEV sales to a new market segment and continuing to convert more people to become plug-in devotees.

Even the recent reduction in the price of a barrel of oil and the talk of 200-mile EVs "coming soon" will likely not reverse the growth trend in PEV sales. If this is the case, then we can expect to see about 140,000 more PEVs on the road for 2015. This would mean that near the end of 2015 we could see the PIA roll past 400,000 too.

 Plug In America

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