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Battery Powered Vehicles Lagging

April 21, 2015

First quarter sales of EVs and PHEVs were a mixed bag, and nothing to brag about.

US Sales of Electric Vehicles, Including HEVs 2015


Hybrid (HEVs)


Battery (BEVs)





















Total 1Q 2015






Total 1Q 2014






% change






The only bright spot was the sale of EVs, but they lagged fourth quarter sales of 19,413 EVs by about 27%.

One has to wonder when the sale of EVs and PHEVs will take off.

Total light vehicle sales in the first quarter were 3,726,963.

Total EV and PHEV sales were 0.6%: That’s less than 1% of all vehicle sales during the first quarter of 2015.

When these vehicles were introduced, it was expected that there would be 1,000,000 sold by the end of 2015. This was the forecast made by President Obama.

Total cumulative sales since these vehicles were introduced in 2011 were 307,894.

By this measure, EVs and PHEVs have been a dismal failure, in spite of billions of dollars of taxpayer funded subsidies.

Volt and Leaf pictures from DOE

Volt and Leaf pictures from DOE

Because of this failure, some commentators attempt to disguise the failure by combining HEVs, EVs and PHEVs when describing electric vehicles. (HEVs are hybrids, similar to the Prius, that can’t use battery power for more than a short distance, and do not recharge their batteries from the grid.)

This distorts the actual market penetration of cars that rely on battery power, either exclusively, such as the Tesla, an EV, or PHEVs for commuting distances, such as the GM Volt.

My earlier article, Is Tesla Gigafactory a Bad Investment? described the current status of battery development and the new solid state battery that’s now in the very early stages of development.

It’s clear, at this point, that EVs are for the rich and famous, and not for ordinary drivers.

It’s still very much a question whether Tesla, or any other manufacturer, can produce a car for under $35,000 that will appeal to the average driver.

How much more taxpayer money will have to be spent on subsidies before EVs and PHEVs achieve any modicum of success?

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2015 11:20 am

    Nice biased report to be expected from a climate change denier

    Numbers are wrong. The real numbers (Inside EV website) indicate a 3% increase and the real numbers correctly exclude HEVs.

    We all know that the oil companies pay zero taxes and are heavily subsidized. .

    The number of EVs in the marketplace is increasing exponentially, The USA is behind Europe in model availability and sales. In next 24 months several sub $35,000 EVs with 200 mile range will be in the US market.

    EVs, like solar and cell phones and digital cameras is a disruptive technology and will eventually dominate the marketplace..

    • April 21, 2015 3:23 pm

      Inside EV reports 23,339 BEV and PHEVs sold in the first quarter. That’s 1,217 more than my source.
      My numbers were as reported by the Electric Drive Transportation Association, just as reputable as your source.
      I can’t explain the discrepancy, but it’s minor anyway.
      The conclusions I reach are valid, even if your numbers are right.
      Maybe yours are wrong. So what?
      Once again people who object to what I have to say, try to attack me personally. My views on global warming probably have more validity than yours, but I don’t call you a denier or any other name. I provide facts to support my view that the sun could just as easily, and probably with greater validity, be the cause of global warming.
      You will want to read my article next week about why BEVs and PHEVs may be failing.
      And be sure to read the Duck Tells All.
      Thanks for the new source. I will compare it with my source in the future.

      • April 21, 2015 10:46 pm

        Your observations of the data failed to acknowledge the 29.93 % increase in BEVs. or the potential causes of the decrease in PHEV sales in Q1.

        Two of the biggest PHEV models are the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius. The 48% Volt PHEV sales drop is likely associated with the prior announcement of the 2016 Volt with a host of major upgrades. Why buy a 2015 Volt with 30% less range that needs high test gasoline when you can wait 6 months for a 2016 ?

        The 61% Prius PHEV sales drop appears to be associated with persons who formally considered the Prius as the green car, instead selecting far superior BEVs like the Leaf or the BMW i3 that are much greener with no gas. Why buy a Prius that needs gas and has poor electric range when one can purchase a pure electric with commuter range?

        BEVs (real electrics) are experiencing exponential sales growth at 29.9 %. They are hardly failing. There are some remaining hurdles being overcome for main stream adoption – cost and range (2018) and SUV size (2017). In the meantime, 90% of daily commutes are within range of current BEVs or PHEVs and the market is huge.

        As for subsidies, we all know that the oil and gas industry pay no federal taxes and are heavily subsidized by the federal government with research grants and other tax breaks. It is a tell-tale sign that this was not acknowledged By 2020, EV power train costs will be less than ICE cars due to the economies of scale and the 8% per year improvements in battery costs.

        The Gigafactory is the only way for Tesla to meet the demand for its $35,000 BEV Model 3 (not for the rich only). The Chevy Bolt will be out in 2017 in the $35,000 range

        As for climate change it has been thoroughly debunked as being caused by sun cycles.

        You can call be an environmental activist, or person that cares too much for humanity or my grandchildren, anything you like. I will not take offense.

  2. Eric Jenkins permalink
    April 21, 2015 10:23 pm

    Quoting a politician on future expectations isn’t really a valid idea. What did the car manufacturers predict? I don’t think you could find an EV on a lot in North America other than demo models. For most you have to sign up and wait.

  3. Catcracking permalink
    April 21, 2015 11:00 pm

    Really a factual informative presentation, thanks.

    I am totally against subsidizing electrical vehicle production until a useful battery has been developed. It is foolish to push a vehicle for which a suitable energy source does not exist. In fact it was well demonstrated years ago that building an electric car is viable, no need to waste resources on the part you already have demonstrated. It would be like subsidizing the production of an internal combustion engine after all the fossil fuels have been depleted on the hope that magically a replacement fuel will appear.

    The quest for a suitable battery has been going on for decades, even some of the largest energy corporations have researched the problem without success. I wonder if a viable battery may never evolve due to limitations of all the laws of chemistry and physics. At some point you need to stop throwing $$$ down a rat hole.

    Unfortunately we currently do not have the high quality of thinkers in the government to identify the best places to invest our $$$. The decisions come from the top from people who don’t understand research.

    • April 22, 2015 9:52 am

      The batteries are already here.
      Lithium-ion,Tesla 265 mile EPA range, free fill ups at Tesla Super charger locations forever, recharge to 80% in 30 minutes. 8% ongoing improvement in battery cost per year.

      • April 22, 2015 3:42 pm

        Read my article this Friday for some facts on batteries and why BEVs are likely to continue to be toys for the rich and famous. Of course, if you can pay $75,000 for a car , that’s great. Most people can’t.

      • usurbrain permalink
        April 26, 2015 12:30 pm

        Yea, those are great batteries (sarc). The individual cells in each “battery” is the exact same cell as in the LiIon battery for your hand held cordless power drill. [don’t flame me, look it up on the internet. or break open the battery in your EV and Power drill.] Using the newest De Walt LiIon 20 Volt Max cordless drill about three times a week mine lasted about 18 months and needed replaced.
        And still NO ONE is examining the fact that both when you charge and discharge a battery the material in the anode and cathode of the battery, including the impurities, is expelled into the atmosphere. These highly toxic materials are going into the atmosphere creating another toxic time bomb to kill your beloved grandchildren. AND NO ONE CARES cause it is GREEN and only a few mcro-grams are expelled per charge/discharge – about the same amount as LEAD was discharged before it was banned as a fuel additive. Worse yet, high speed charging just makes it worse and also decreases the life of the battery. Obviously you have also not considered the fact that all of these rare earth metals used in the batteries, solar panels and wind turbines are also mined and the ground around them contains many other highly toxic elements, all released into the atmosphere. But that is ok as they do it in China and other off shore countries. Will not kill you, but the dust will reach here to again cause harm to your grandchildren.
        Take a college level Chemistry course and Thermodynamics course. You might learn something.

  4. Catcracking permalink
    April 21, 2015 11:41 pm

    I don’t know where you get your information from regarding taxes paid by the oil industry, perhaps you should read the compilation below from the NY times. Since your tax information is so bad, it reflects on the veracity of your other claims.
    “The three largest oil companies paid the most in taxes in absolute terms of all major corporations, according to data on S&P 500 companies compiled by The New York Times.

    President Barack Obama has chastised oil companies for receiving billions of dollars in tax breaks. However, the Times reports that ExxonMobil paid $146 billion in taxes; Chevron paid $85 billion; and ConocoPhillips paid $58 billion over the last five years.

    In terms of their effective tax rates, the big three oil companies don’t get off easily either. Exxon had an effective tax rate of 37 percent, Chevron’s effective tax rate was 39 percent, and ConocoPhillips’s was a whopping 74 percent. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent.

    In fact, the big three oil companies paid multiples more, in both total dollars and effective tax rates, than such administration favorites as Apple, Google and General Electric.”

    “However, last year Exxon and Chevron ranked in the top two companies that paid the most in taxes. ConocoPhillips ranked sixth in terms of taxes paid, reports USA Today. In 2012, Exxon paid $31.05 billion, Chevron paid $20 billion, and ConocoPhillips paid $7.94 billion.

    “The oil and gas industry gets no subsidies, zero, nothing,” said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute — the nation’s largest oil and gas lobby. “We get cost-recovery benefits, much like other industries. You can go down the road of allowing economic activity, generating hundreds of billions to the government, or you can take the alternative route by trying to extract new revenue from industry by increasing their cost to do business.”

    • April 22, 2015 3:45 pm

      Great comments. And if costs are increased, so will be prices. Corporate taxes are actually paid for by customers in the form of higher prices. Basic economics.

  5. catcracking permalink
    April 22, 2015 9:39 am

    Looks like the market place is speaking on electric cars. People are smarter than the Government in this case.

    “EVs are just not selling; even hybrids and plug-ins are slow,” Caldwell said. “There’s some concern.”

    “Why are electric car sales faltering? One reason is that gas prices are far lower than they were in 2012. Edmunds notes that when gas prices were $4.67 per gallon in October 2012 it would take five5 years to make up the price difference between “a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460).”

    With gas prices now at about $2.27 per gallon, says it would take more than twice as long to save enough on gas to make up the price difference between a Camry LE and a Camry Hybrid.

    Electric cars are also facing increased competition from more fuel-efficient vehicles. Aside from market forces, federal fuel efficiency standards have been forcing automakers to increase the miles per gallon of engines.

    Electric cars also suffer from issues with battery life. Each hybrid or electric car battery can cost thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars, which only helps tip the economic scale in favor of traditional vehicles.

    “It wouldn’t make sense to replace a 12-year old battery with a new battery that’s going to last 12 years, because chances are the car’s not going to last that long,” Eric Ibara with Kelley Blue Book told Detroit News.”

    • April 22, 2015 10:26 am

      The problem appears to be that may no reliable source. Some who claim corporations pay huge taxes include payroll taxes and sales taxes. Here is a credible study that has Exxon, Duke Energy paying zero taxes in at least one year.

      Gas prices have no measurable effect on current EV sales. EVs cost less than 5 cents per mile to operate. There is no correlation between US Gas prices and EV sales

      Early EV adopters are purchasing them primarily for environmental reasons and because of the technology advantages (95 percent fewer moving parts). EVs also are expected to last twice as long with no extreme heat/cool cycles and no expensive parts to wear out. The real world experience comes from electric trolley buses that still last twice as long as their diesel counterparts.

      Battery improvements will result in batteries approaching $100 per kWh. At the 12 year mark, a replacement battery for a Leaf could be $2,400 or less. Then good to go for another 12 years.

      Persons fearful of disruptive change frequently point to costs. The first digital cameras, cell phones, flat screens and solar cells were all more expensive than the products they replaced. But the disruptive products prevailed, because of early adopters willing to pay more for their advantages and support their development until they went mainstream and cost far less than the products that they replaced. (Solar cells are now cheaper than coal, nuclear, and are closing in on natural gas)
      Same for EVs, they are superior, will significantly reduce GHG emissions and offer some hope of helping to saving the planet.

    • April 22, 2015 3:46 pm

      Thanks. Great comments. My article this Friday will touch on some of the same points.

  6. Catcracking permalink
    April 22, 2015 5:04 pm

    “As for climate change it has been thoroughly debunked as being caused by sun cycles.
    You can call be an environmental activist, or person that cares too much for humanity or my grandchildren, anything you like. I will not take offense.”

    To suggest that others do not care for humanity or their grandchildren because they do not believe in catastrophic global warming ignores that scientific temperature data that has accumulated and the climate gate scandal. It is an interesting tactic only when the data and science is weak to back up the claims.

    I do care about humanity and my lovely grand children as much as anyone and using the available data, including that shown below, I am very concerned that prematurely cutting back on our use of carbon as Proposed by the Administration will be a disaster for our economy, food supply, transportation, and the ability to afford ably heat our homes.
    That is the disaster I fear, I could be wrong, but don’t criticize me for using my brain, looking at the data, and drawing a conclusion. I am an Engineer who has worked on numerous alternative energy projects and realize that we are decades away from replacing fossil fuels.

    Look at the plot below and note that there have been 3 significantly long periods (up to 40 years) where there was cooling, although CO 2 increased including the present period of up to 18 years with no warming. Logic tells me CO 2 is not the main driver, possibly other natural causes. Even climate change advocates admit that the proposed dramatic cut in CO 2 emissions will have a theoretical temperature impact of hundredths of a degree. Is this gain worth the negative consequences while China merrily doubles it’s CO2 emissions.

    Here is another recent plot showing data of global Temperature versus CO2 between 1999 and 2015. It is a scatter plot showing no correlation whatever ! Can you explain the lack of correlation, aerosols have already been ruled out as an explanation.

    Have a great day, enjoy the data, it’s real.

    • April 23, 2015 9:28 am

      Excellent data. I also like to refer to the fact that during the medieval and roman warm periods the temperatures were as high as today, maybe higher, yet atmospheric CO2 concentrations were 285 ppm, about what they were before the mid 1800s. today they are around 400 ppm, but that doesn’t mean CO2 is responsible for the current warming because cause and effect hasn’t been established, and, when viewing the earlier periods mentioned above, it would seem there is no cause and effect.

  7. Catcracking permalink
    April 24, 2015 9:01 am

    Thought this might be of interest to you.

    “Ford said today that it is planning to cut a shift at its Michigan Assembly Plant where it makes the Ford Focus compact car and C-Max crossover because of declining sales of small cars, hybrids and electric vehicles.

    The automaker told workers and notified the state of Michigan that it will lay off 700 workers, starting June 22. The decision affects 675 hourly workers and 25 salaried employees who make the Focus, Focus ST, Focus Electric, C-Max hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid at the Wayne plant.

    The first 200 workers will be laid off in June, another 200 at the end of July and the remainder at the end of September.”

  8. Cosmic Canopener permalink
    April 25, 2015 8:25 pm

    Donn + Catcracking (rhymes with fracking, and sounds like cracking towers, er, cute)

    You a refusing to admit that BEV sales are constrained by production, and diversity of models, not by sales interest. It’s only a 30% y/y growth rate because of this.

    Now that many BEVs are on the road and a few years have passed in the hands of owners, new BEV purchasers are not interested in the PHEV ‘range safety’ as many have realized its not necessary. BEV provides the ultimate cost effective, lowest operating cost motoring available, completely hassle free, and with performance to blow away any V8 off the line. The fact is: No BEV driver will ever go back to the inferior technology and high cost of ICE.

    Of people not admitted to the light on BEV, hybrid owners would likely be tempted to go back to ICE with lower gas prices, because frankly, hybrid performance sucks. It’s the way it’s engineered to achieve maximum efficiency, but leaves a less than satisfactory acceleration performance when you need it or want it.

    The biggest tax on our economy today (ignoring Wall Street) is the Oil & Gas industry. We’ve been led to believe there is no other way to power our world, and in some sectors that is still true — for now. But for automobiles, buildings, and small craft, petroleum is not required. When you convert to electricity in these large sectors of the economy, consumers, businesses and the economy in general are much better off – by a factor of 3-5 times.

    BEV drivers will never go back to ICE. Every new electric car takes out $300 of revenue per month from the oil industry every year and forever into perpetuity.

    Local economies improve, air quality improves, and all BEV owners are smiling every time they touch that accelerator, or their regenerative brakes.

    If you look at a $7,500 tax credit for BEV purchases, the economic payback recovered to local economies (Monthly $300-$50 net of cost of locally produced electricity and ever greening) is a 100% return in 5 years. That’s the best economic bang for buck I’ve ever seen for a government program.

    Once you start driving with the luxury of silent and smooth jaw dropping torque and only pay $50/mo for a 1,000 miles of driving … would you go back to ICE??

    • April 27, 2015 10:07 am

      Time will tell. Your are correct in one respect, the terrible 5 year payback is the best ever for a government program. Not sure you are correct about production constraints, with GM stopping production on the Volt, admittedly not a BEV. What happened to the LEAF?

    • usurbrain permalink
      April 27, 2015 10:54 am

      The majority of the so called “subsidies” that the Envirowhacos claim that the Oil Industry gets is from the “Depletion/deprecation Tax allowance.” This comes from the exact same IRS rule as another company gets. An estimate of the amount of oil in the well is declared and they are given a tax write off for the portion they use on the quarterly tax statement. Even a garbage dump gets a “Depletion Tax allowance” based upon the fact that the void in the ground or the maximum theoretical size of the dump/garbage pit has used up a measurable portion of its capacity. If you are using equipment or the company you work for has purchased equipment they too are declaring a depletion/deprecation allowance. They are declaring it on the building you work in. Then, since the Oil company has declared the value of the oil they have, they get to pay Property taxes on that declared property. If your state, county, community taxes property then you benefit from the declared value of the property (OIL) that they have. That penalty more than wipes out any so called subsidies. Further, Oil companies, even with what you claim has this gigantic subsidy, pays more per dollar earned in taxes than the average industry. LOOK IT UP. There is no legal way that the Oil industry can have that depletion/deprecation allowance taken away without taking it away from every other industry, company, business, service or individual. And if t was then you would just pay more for everything and I mean everything. Even your garbage bill would increase. Look it up, verification of this fact is on the internet.

      • April 27, 2015 1:32 pm

        Excellent comment. I have made the same point a number of times. Thanks.

  9. April 27, 2015 9:58 am

    usurbrain: Thanks for your comments. Just returned from a trip and didn’t see your comment until now.


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