What I did for my Earth Day Vacation

Earth Day 2018Another way our lifestyle has been altered by getting plug-in cars (on top of downsizing our home, adding solar panels, getting electric lawn equipment, changing careers, etc…) is that we wanted to start growing our own produce. Bonnie and I have been concerned about pesticides and commercial farming for some time. Bonnie has dabbled in vegetable gardening, but with limited area to garden, she never grew very much.

I decided I’d like to change that, so I started looking for raised garden bed kits. I found an ad for a nice looking raised bed, made of cedar planks.adI knew I wanted to avoid stained or chemically treated wood, since those chemicals could leach into the soil and contaminate the food we were growing to avoid contamination. The kit came in various sizes and I immediately was drawn to the largest size offered: 12′ X 2′. clamped jigHowever, at $349, I wondered how much it would cost to build one from scratch. As it turned out, I could build TWO raised beds, each 50% larger (12′ X 3′) for about the same price. The side walls would be made of 2″ X 8″ planks, but I needed a way to join two of the planks to create a 16″ raised bed. Then I discovered Kreg Tools, on TV! Specifically, I found the Kreg Jig R3. Although the Kreg website showed to tool being used to create screw holes to join boards at a 90 degree angle to one another, I realized I could also use it to create a 2″ X 16″ plank from two 2″ X 8″ planks. Now I knew I could build the gardens myself!

productionI laid the planks out in the garage and began drilling holes and joining boards into larger planks. The Kreg Jig worked great! Each garden required five 12′ long 2″ X 8″ boards, two for each long side and one, cut into four three foot sections for the two end walls. I realized the holes created by the Kreg jig should alternate from inside the box to outside the box, so as to make the walls as strong as possible. It also occurred to me that the holes, once drilled, should go upward so they would not collect rainwater. (I thought about this project a lot, before starting work on it.)

The two end caps would be attached by screws going straight through them, into the side walls. I did not try to use the Kreg Jig for these holes. Here’s the first box I built: This was as far as I got the first Sunday, one week before Earth Day.1st box

 

 

whackedThe following Wednesday was my day off, so I decided to build the second box, while Bonnie was at work. I also had my first design change. I decided to use my line trimmer to eliminate the grass, under the gardens, and attach black garden barrier cloth to the underside of each box, to prevent grass or weeds rising through the garden. (I know with 14″ of soil above the grass, it would have probably just died under all that dirt, but sometimes I can’t help myself.)

I trimmed an area around the base of the first box, to guide the removal of the existing grass and flipped it over, to add the barrier cloth to it as well. I then placed it where the second box would be located and used it as a trimming guide for the second box turf removal. barrier clothI then flipped it back to its original location and placed the second box. Both the aisles between the first box and the back fence, as well as between the two boxes was a few inches larger than my lawnmower’s width, so I can keep the grass mowed in those narrow pathways. I also made a design change to the second box. Since Bonnie wasn’t going to be around to help me move it into position, I decided to add triangular braces, in the corners, so that the box wouldn’t flex at the corners, as I dragged it from the front yard, into position in the back yard.

Here they are in their final position at the end of Wednesday. You can barely see one of the corner braces on the left box in the far corner, at the bottom of the box.2 bedsearthNext up was the earth for my Earth Day project. With guidance, we decided on a mixture of two cubic yards of topsoil, one yard compost and 1/2 yard of expanded shale (to absorb excess moisture, letting it back out as the soil becomes dry). We looked around for soil providers and selected one we had driven past often, Alpine Materials. They were very helpful and suggested the mix of soils. They delivered it the same Thursday I ordered it and dumped it on my driveway. Then, the work became grueling. Thankfully, Bonnie’s mom Ellie, helped level the dirt in the beds, so I could concentrate on being a pack mule.

filled beds

It took me from the time I got home from work, until sunset, to load the dirt into a wheelbarrow and dump it into the gardens. I had splinters in my hands, from the rough cedar boards and was totally spent at the end of this task. However, standing back and admiring my finished (I thought) work was quite satisfying.

Saturday, while I was at work, Bonnie started buying plants for her gardens. Lots of types of tomatoes, including my favorite: beefsteak were purchased.

On Earth Day Sunday, as we started our morning, Bonnie mentioned trellis-training her tomatoes to get more production out of each plant. I was in the mood to design, so I started putting together a trellis plan for one of the beds. (We decided against trellises for both beds, as the southernmost bed’s trellis would eventually cast shade on the northernmost bed.Trellis plansAs you can see, I really get into designing stuff. So I spent Earth Day morning designing and building the parts list (or bill of materials for you engineering types). Then it was off to Home Depot to get what we needed and back home to build the trellis! Here are some shots of the finished project and a happy Bonnie:happy farmereileenwith veggies

Next up: fresh veggies!!!

Predictions revisited or “Just call me Nostradamus” ;-)

Green Car Reports published the results of a reader poll, regarding readers’ predictions for EV adoption. EV owners, being an optimistic bunch, selected the answer, “faster than most people think” 57% of the time, with the remaining 43% split among “a bit faster,(19%)” “a bit slower (15%)” and “a lot slower. (9%)”GCR Poll resultsI contend that those of us driving plug-in vehicles today are optimists, because we adopted a new technology, investing thousands of dollars of our hard-earned income, on basically, a bet. We bet there would be places to get our EVs serviced, infrastructure deployed, demand for our used vehicles, reliability in the battery packs, etc. We also bet we could change the world for the better, perhaps even save the planet, by showing others that we can drive cleaner, but still have fun. Some of us (me included) added solar panels to reduce our carbon footprint (and/or save money) and many have switched our electricity provider or plan, to one that uses renewable energy.

I wrote about possible growth rates of EVs in January of 2015. Being a math guy, I had to create a spreadsheet (sound familiar yet?) and asked my coworkers how they thought EVs would fare. GCR’s poll reminded me of this old post and made me curious. I thought to myself: “I wonder which of the three paths EV adoption seems to be taking?”

As it turns out, my Goldilocks approach included three spreadsheets: worst case, middle case and best case. I was rooting for “best case,” obviously. I mean, my title IS EVangelist, after all…

Here’s how it has been going…(drum roll, please…the actual adoption of plug-in vehicles has done slightly better than the middle-of-the-road case! (click on image to open larger version)Results This spreadsheet has multiple inputs (commonly referred to as “guesses”) and the relationship to these inputs may not be correct, but the important thing is this: Actual sales exceeded the estimated sales for the years after the blog post was published! This is GREAT news! Since there are multiple inputs to the spreadsheet, I decided to play with the inputs, while keeping the results aligned with the sales results of the past three years.

In my original middle-of-the-road spreadsheet, I set the percentage of plug-in vehicle owners who would purchase a plug-in again, instead of going back to an ICE vehicle, at 75%. In the original article, I thought this was way to low. I also set the growth in plug-in vehicle sales to be 12.5% annually and EV loss through accidents at 4%. I changed the “rebuy” at a much higher 95%, which is much more realistic, based on what I am seeing at the dealership. Making that change, made the 2017 prediction slightly lower than the actual sales number, so I looked at other inputs to change. Changing the “loss percentage” did not change the prediction results, so next, I turned to “EV growth rate.” I reduced the growth rate to 9.25% and the actual sales of 2017 again was higher than the prediction. That may seem like bad news, but it’s not. Based on these inputs, the spreadsheet predicts that new plug-in vehicle sales will exceed 10% of all new vehicle sales (vehicles that could actually be replaced with plug-ins, not 1 ton pickups, for instance) in 2019.

You read that right, 2019. Here’s how it looks, with the modifications:Results 2The percentage of total vehicles, bought each year, that can be replaced by EVs was set at 93%. That doesn’t account for styling preferences. For instance, there may be people that buy pickup trucks, just because they like driving pickup trucks, even though they rarely, if ever, carry cargo in the bed or tow a heavy trailer. The advent of plug-in pickups will alter that percentage, but since there are no plug-in pickups available today (with the possible exception of Via Motors), I’ll leave things at 93%.

Things that could cause this to accelerate include: a substantial rise in gasoline prices, breakthroughs in charging/batteries, evidence and/or consequences of global climate change becoming apparent, better advertising by EV manufacturers, better educated consumers and the steady decrease in manufacturing costs.

One other thing that will help: the flood of new plug-in vehicles coming to market or announced. New form factors, like crossovers, SUVs and sports cars (affordable for the masses, please) could really heat things up. This is happening now!

All in all, I am excited by the results. I’ll start revisiting this spreadsheet annually, to see how things are going. To Green Car Reports: I think your readers are on to something! Thanks for the poll/reminder!

March 2018 Sales Numbers

It has been reported that GM will no longer publish monthly sales figures for vehicles. Due to this, this may be my last “sales figures” post. We’ll see…

The countdown to 200,000 plug-in vehicles, and the looming end of the $7,500 Federal Income Tax Credit (for three EV makers), marches forward. For the first time ever, Tesla Motors has taken the lead, passing General Motors, in total plug-ins sold. Barring an increase in General Motors production, and with the ramp-up of the Model 3, I expect Tesla to keep the lead, going forward. It has been announced that GM is increasing Bolt EV production, due to strong demand. However, at the dealership level, I am seeing much lower allocation than I’ve seen in the past. For those outside the car business, GM allocates production to dealers, based on their sales of each vehicle. In other words, if you are selling lots of Bolt EVs, you get the opportunity to order more Bolt EVs, than a dealership that is not selling them at as high a volume. However, I have seen a marked decrease in plug-in vehicle allocation for us, although we have had great numbers, when compared to other dealers in our region. Perhaps the reason we are getting fewer plug-in vehicles is that higher demand has spread the production slots that are available among more dealerships. I’m hoping that is what’s going on and the GM announcement seems to bear that out. As I wrote last month, I am happily surprised by the higher demand I have been seeing, during what would typically be a dead period for plug-in sales.FITC

March 2018 plug-in vehicle sales were up, with only one exception, the Ford Fusion Energi. I cannot overstate how very historically abnormal this is for the first three months of a year. The Fusion was only slightly down, from the previous month (2%).

In total vehicle sales, March 2018 was typical. I sold 10 units.

In the chart below, the February/March rebound in plug-in sales is amazing! Just look at those curves at the far right!!!March 2018 EV Sales NumbersHere are the March 2018 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: UP 81% (1,782 vs. 983)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 25% (1,774 vs. 1,424)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 68% (1,500 vs. 895)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 43% (2,922 vs. 2,050)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 200% (3,375 vs. 1,125) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 223% (2,825 vs. 875) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 59% (992 vs. 623) **new model announced
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 2% (782 vs. 794)
  • Honda Clarity BEV & PHEV: UP 25% (1,230 vs. 9854)
  • Tesla Model 3: UP 54% (3,820 vs. 2,485)

In March, the average price of gasoline rose from $2.55 per gallon, at the start of the month, to $2.66 at month’s end. The rise was pretty constant, with a minor dip to $2.52 on the 11th, then rose steadily, through the end of the month.My Sales By WeekMy ten March 2018 sales were comprised of four Bolt EVs, four Volts, a Camaro and a Silverado. The good news here, is the rebound of interest in the Volt. The debut of the Bolt EV hit Volt sales, in the beginning, but more and more people are coming in to test drive the Volt. The Bolt EV is still in 3rd place (50 units), in my sales, with the Silverado 1500 (57 units) in 2nd place and the Volt (84 units) in first. As early as this month, I could see the Bolt EV displacing Silverado as my #2 vehicle!Vehicle Sales By ModelBy vehicle type, my lifetime sales are 31% plug-ins, 19% SUVs (down 1%), 18% pickups, 15% sports cars. The rest are sedans & vans (17%). In the chart below, the red bars (2018 sales) show how odd the start to this year has been. When compared to the slivers of orange below the red bars (2017 sales), the change is astounding.My Plug-Ins by Month

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were split:

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 16% (1,782 vs. 2,132) **Bolt EV effect?
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 81% (1,774 vs. 978) **not available nationwide in March 2017
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 1% (1,500 vs. 1,478)
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 74% (2,922 vs. 1,682)
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 2% (3,375 vs. 3,450)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 3% (2,825 vs. 2,750)
  • BMW i3: UP 41% (992 vs. 703)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 22% (782 vs. 1,002)
  • Honda Clarity BEV & PHEV: (was not available in March 2017)
  • Tesla Model 3: (was not available in March 2017)

Not driving electric because of “range anxiety?” You already have it!

I cast my mind back to the days before I got my first plug-in vehicle, a 2012 Chevy Volt. This happened as I was speaking with a potential Volt buyer about my 2017 Volt’s gasoline usage. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I came very close to going a full year without having to buy gasoline. EV newbies are always concerned about how many public chargers are “out there” and “range anxiety.”

“Range anxiety” is the term used to describe how an electric vehicle owner feels, as their battery gets closer and closer to running out of electricity, as they drive. The reason for the anxiety, is that there currently (pun intended) is no way for roadside assistance to bring a gallon of electrons.

What occurred to me, during my discussion, was that I used to have range anxiety, before I had a plug-in vehicle. I hated having to go to the gas station, so I would put it off as long as I could. I often would be on my way to work, thinking, “Can I make it to work without getting gas?” “If I make it to work, can I make it to a gas station, when I leave work?” “Which gas station has the lowest price?”

I was experiencing range anxiety, IN A GASOLINE-POWERED CAR!!!

Range anxietyHow about you? Do you put off buying gas as long as possible, thinking if you can just squeeze another 1/2 commute before refueling, you’ll decrease the number of trips, to the gas station, over the year?

If you’ve let “range anxiety” keep you from moving to plug-in vehicles, realize you already have range anxiety. Think about the convenience, when you refuel at home! Think how you don’t have to stand next to a smelly gas pump, surrounded by the exhaust of the vehicles around you, in whatever weather is happening, when you need gas.

You just pull into your own, private garage and plug your car in, just like you do with your smartphone, AND THEN JUST WALK AWAY. It’ll take care of itself, while you concentrate on enjoying your life.

Now that I’ve been driving plug-in vehicles for more than five years, I cannot imagine why people continue to go stand at gas stations. Every. Single. Week.

Maybe it’s so they can give money to the panhandlers…

Nothing up my sleeve…

Nothing up my sleeveRecently I was asked for “sales tricks or methods” I use to sell plug-in vehicles.

There are no tricks.

For dealership owners & management, I think the keys to success in plug-in vehicle sales are:

    1. Most important of all my tips: Do not draft someone into plug-in vehicle sales! If you select a non-believer, they will struggle and quit. For those who do want to specialize in plug-in vehicle sales, allow them to continue to sell every vehicle type. Plug-in sales are just starting to take off and your salespeople have to be able to make a decent living, until plug-in vehicles go mainstream.
    2. The person selling plug-in vehicles REALLY needs to understand living with them. Dealerships should assign a demo EV/hybrid, to the salesperson, for 3 months. In my opinion, it is best to select someone who has the ability to charge at home. In other words, probably not an apartment dweller. They should also be able to charge at the dealership. This teaches them the ease of EV ownership/refueling.
    3. If possible, dealers should hire a person who already owns a plug-in vehicle. They are very enthusiastic about their experience and love to share that enthusiasm. Many of the comment cards sent in by my clients, to my management, comment on my passion for EVs. This sort of thing cannot easily be faked.
    4. If you offer multiple plug-in and traditional hybrids, understand the use case addressed by each model. Help guide the customer to the most advantageous vehicle for their use case. Sometimes, they come in asking about one vehicle, but you can tell, from a few quick queries, that there is a better choice for them. Be able to explain why one is better for their specific needs than another, but remember: Sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants. Don’t debate. Inform.
    5. Have chargers where the inventory sits and keep all the vehicles charged. Nothing Volts@Chargersturns off a buyer quite like finding an EV that can’t be driven for hours. It just points out the time advantage of gas refueling. If your plug-in vehicles support DC Fast Charging, I highly recommend you install one.DCFCIts primary purpose would be to charge vehicles when they first arrive, so they may be made available for sale quickly, and for customers’ vehicles after a Service visit. If possible, the charger should be in a publicly accessible area, to attract new clients as well as a way to encourage clients to return. They can always shop for accessories or speak with others thinking about making the switch to a plug-in. (see #2 above)
    6. Bolt EV vs. VoltIf possible, dedicate a building (or an area in a building) that allows discussions with multiple clients, simultaneously. This is important, because the slim profit margins and time needed to educate the buyer makes plug-in vehicle sales labor intensive, for the salesperson. By allowing a salesperson to address multiple buyers, you are doubling or tripling their effectiveness. Have prominent signage and to assure your customers know you have expertise in plug-in vehicles.
    7. ADVERTISE the fact that you have expertise. Customers want a low price, but Electric Avenue Comic Stripthey’re willing to pay for someone knowledgeable to guide them. Once they know they’re not going to be on their own, because they’ll have ongoing support from you, will help make sales based on your added value, rather than just price.
    8. EA Main RoomAnother way to help reduce the time investment required by salespeople, is to create ways for the clients to learn, even when salespeople are tied up with other clients. For instance, a “learning lounge” where videos or slideshows play continuously, creates a sense of community and helps reduce the time spent answering the same, common questions, over and over.

  1. Finance departments must realize the new type of buyer a plug-in client represents. They not only have read about the vehicle, in which they’re interested, but also have investigated current offers from manufacturers as well as other dealers (even those in other states). They are already a bit nervous about switching to electricity. If they think you’re taking advantage of them, they’re gone.
  2. Salespeople must fully understand federal and local incentives and the process of qualifying for and getting them. Believe it or not, I regularly have customers repeat what their tax accountant said, AND IT’S WRONG!
  3. The salespeople must EVangelize by going out and speaking in public, blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, etc. They should take vehicles to events like NDEW, Earth Day, etc.
  4. Sales must understand electricity pricing, and how much is saved by driving electrically, as well as which electricity providers have discounts/incentives for the owners of plug-in vehicles. One of the very first questions asked is usually, “How much will having a plug-in car increase my electric bill?
  5. Have an electrician contact, to whom you can refer customers, for installation of 240V outlets. This is a simple hurdle for you to resolve for your customers.
  6. TEST DRIVES ARE MANDATORY! When the client first arrives, ask if they’ve driven a plug-in before. If not, that is the FIRST order of business. It’s called “butts in seats.” People think EVs are about economy or the environment. Those things are true, but the main reason my customers buy, is that we have a very specific test drive that shows off the fun of EV acceleration, handling and safety features. Doing this first will remove barriers to purchase faster than anything else you can do.
  7. Finally, at least in the early years, it may be important to change the pay structure of the salespeople that work in the plug-in vehicle world. The fact that most clients will visit multiple times, before making a purchase, means that likelihood that they’ll deal with more than one salesperson, is high. Instead of resolving which salespersons split the commission or who’s on the front half, have every salesperson become supportive of all sales and all clients. Commission the department, rather than the person. You may find that the salespeople begin to specialize, increasing sales efficiency. On may be best in test drives and early discussions, another excels at getting the paperwork/deal ready and others may be best at vehicle delivery and post-sales support. Unlike normal vehicle sales, you have to be prepared to let go of employees that aren’t contributing to the dealership’s success, rather that waiting for dwindling commissions to weed them out. This introduces some areas of contention between salespeople (like who gets the manufacturer bonuses, if they exist), but in the long run, your customers will enjoy the efficiency and you and your salespeople will appreciate the lack of contention..

I await its arrival with bait-like breath…

Back in the late 1980s, I was fortunate enough to ride a “S curve.” I was in the computer-aided design software field, employed by a software company as an Sales Engineer. I was the technical half of a sales team. The software we sold was revolutionary and ended up redefining 3D design. When I started the job, the product was relatively unknown. However, demonstrations of its capabilities blew engineers away. Of course, many were jaded, by years of “smoke-and-mirrors” in software demonstrations. Their experience caused them to fear what they weren’t seeing (i.e. possible bugs or limitations). Adoption was slow at first.

The CEO spoke to the sales teams about “S curves of innovation.” “Basically,” he said, “when a new, revolutionary product debuts, sales start off slowly. As more and more people get exposed to it, the ‘first adopters,’ buy first. These are the people that see where this new product can go, in its development, and want to jump on board as soon as they see it. Next, as those people gain experience in the new product, the tell their friends about it. Other sign up to see a demonstration. The sales curve starts to change. What was a gradual adoption of the technology, becomes a massive uptick, as the masses begin to see what the early adopters grasped from the beginning and jump on the bandwagon. As the years move forward, sales begin to slow down, either because everyone that needs the product has acquired it or a new competition (with a newer technology) enters the market and starts its own S curve.”

S curve

I said I was fortunate, because those who sell a new product, which is at the beginning of the steep increase in sales, become valuable personnel. In just three years, my income tripled! CEOs of companies attempted to recruit me, due to my in-depth understanding of this bold, new product. Life was exceedingly good.

Now I’m starting to see the evidence that I’m about to surf another wave. The evidence first appears, when you look at cumulative sales. Here’s my cumulative plug-in vehicle sales:Cumulative

I can definitely see the slope of the curve taking off. Looking at the S curve chart above, I’m thinking we may be around the 7 or 8 value, on the X (horizontal) axis of the chart. If so, that means there’s a very wild ride coming up very soon. Dealerships who failed to prepare will be left behind and, in my opinion, many will fail to survive. Back in my software days, I saw the demise of many venerated software companies. They had been leaders, in their day, but had failed to innovate. The just coasted on their past successes.

Innovation is not easy. Overcoming market inertia is not easy. But it happens every day.

Image result

A bit of advice here: In your career, YOU are the product. Failure to continually upgrade your skills will destroy you in the modern job market. We no longer need typewriter designers, whalers, livery stables, etc. I started my career in the oilfield manufacturing arena, as a machinist. I became a CNC machine operator (a manufacturing machine controlled by a computer program) and then learned to program those machines. I taught others what I knew and I became a manger. I was fat and happy.

Then, the price of oil collapsed. Houston was devastated. I had to move 250 miles away to find work. My income plummeted.

But I learned my lesson. I had grown my skills, butHawking quote only as they pertained to my specific industry. When that industry collapsed, I was financially damaged. Take note oilfield workers, coal miners, etc: Renewable energy careers are on the upswing just as your career is on the downswing. Have you read much about it? Taken any courses to learn about it? Are you fat and happy, like I was? I highly recommend reading “Who Moved My Cheese?”

I’ve been talking about a tipping point for three years now. As I saw things, the “stickiness” of plug-in vehicles, or the strong likelihood that a plug-in vehicle owner would never go back to a solely gasoline-powered vehicle, as a building swell, of which most people were unaware.

As I mentioned in my February 2018 sales figures, in my 4-1/2 years as an “Evangelist,” I usually saw zero plug-in vehicle sales in January and February. Last year was the first exception. I sold one in each of those two months that year.

This year, I sold 3 in January and 4 in February.

And it gets better from there.

So far this month, I have sold 3 plug-ins and have commitments on another SIX for a total of NINE and it’s not even the midpoint of the month yet!!! These are solid deals. We are just waiting for the vehicles to arrive. The most I’ve ever sold in March was five Volts in 2016, when the 2nd generation Volts started arriving in Texas (the 2016 models were not available in Texas). Other than that one standout month, my best March was one plug-in.

What’s going on here?!?!?

Plug-in salesThe plug-in Chevys are not advertised in Texas (where I am located). Texans are proud of their oil heritage and by-and-large think of EVs as a fad (they’re wrong). Chevy dealers have goals established by General Motors for sales of various vehicle types. Classic Chevrolet has consistently hit around 400% of the goals. In my estimation, most Chevy dealers in Texas won’t hit the target we have, but things are heating up. Here’s some interesting info:

  • I trade vehicles with other Chevy dealers, up to 250 miles away, to get the exact configuration my customer desires (or as close as possible). In the past, the other dealer always wanted a Silverado, Camaro, Tahoe or Corvette in trade for their Bolt EV or Volt. More and more often, they will ask for a plug-in vehicle to replace the plug-in vehicle I’m getting from them.
  • Fewer and fewer dealers have any available for trade and some have been reluctant to let go of their plug-in vehicles.
  • Dealers are now contacting us to trade for one of our plug-ins! This used to never happen!

It may be the optimist in me, but the boost in what would be a lackluster time for plug-in sales, has *almost* convinced me that the wave has truly started, in an indisputable way. Is 2018 the year we’ll look back on, as the year that plug-in vehicles began to roar?

I’ve been preparing for this for five years now. I’m ready.

February 2018 Sales Numbers

This month, I’m going to start the countdown to 200,000 vehicles, for the three manufacturers that can possibly hit that mark this year: General Motors, Tesla Motors and Nissan. Once that happens, these manufacturers are scheduled to have the $7,500 Federal Income Tax Credit begin to phase out. The mechanics of how this happens can be found here. Here’s how it looked as of the end of last month:

Tesla averaged 4,179 vehicle sales per month last year and the Model 3 production is ramping up. If they maintain last year’s rate, Tesla could be at the 200,000 mark by August. General Motors averaged 3,658 plug-in vehicle sales per month last year, but the Bolt EV was not available in all 50 states until August. At that rate, the 200,000 mark would happen in August, as well. That would mean the 200,000 could get cut in half by December 31st of this year. Nissan averaged 936 plug-in vehicle sales per month last year. At that rate, they would hit the 200,000 mark years from now. However, that’s misleading. Their sales, last year, were hampered by the announcement of a new, redesigned Leaf with much better range (although well short of the Model 3 or Bolt EV). Sales lagged for months as consumers waited for the new Leaf. I expect all these manufacturers’ average sales to be much better, but unless they’re phenomenal, Nissan buyer’s will still be getting the full tax credit into 2019.

February 2018 plug-in vehicle sales were up, across the board, which is very abnormal for February.

As I mentioned a couple months ago, I have dropped the Ford C-Max Energi from the tracking, as Ford has decided to end the model. It has been replaced, in my tracking, by the Honda Clarity EV and Hybrid models. I am combining the two plug-in versions of Clarity, but not the hydrogen fuel cell version.

In total vehicle sales, February 2018 was typical. I sold 5 units. The weather was cold and rainy for the last week of the month and traffic was very low.

In the chart below, the February rebound in plug-in sales is obvious. All the curves jump up, in the last month.EV Sales NumbersHere are the February 2018 sales figures, compared to the previous month:

  • Chevy Volt: UP 38% (983 vs. 713)
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 21% (1,424 vs. 1,177)
  • Nissan Leaf: UP 497% (895 vs. 150) **new model
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 37% (2,050 vs. 1,496)
  • Tesla Model S: UP 41% (1,125 vs. 800) **estimated
  • Tesla Model X: UP 25% (875 vs. 700) **estimated
  • BMW i3: UP 63% (623 vs. 382) **new model announced
  • Ford Fusion Energi: UP 24% (794 vs. 640)
  • Honda Clarity BEV & PHEV: UP 55% (1,234 vs. 797)
  • Tesla Model 3: UP 33% (2,485 vs. 1,875)

In February, the average price of gasoline dropped from $2.59 per gallon, at the start of the month, to $2.55 at month’s end. The dive was pretty constant, hitting $2.51 on the 18th, bouncing up for a few days, before bottoming out on the 26th at $2.50, before recovering some of its loss.My Sales By Month

I am shocked by the continued robust sales of the Volt and Bolt EV. As you are probably aware, due to the Federal Income Tax Credit on plug-ins, most sales are biased toward the last half of the year, as people start thinking about their income taxes. Until 2017, I had never sold a plug-in vehicle in January or February. In 2017, I only sold one Volt, during each of those months. However, the world is born anew in 2018! In January 2018, I sold two Bolt EVs and a Volt. In February, I sold three Bolt EVs and a Volt. Is this an indicator that we’re moving beyond first adopters of new technology and more into mainstream buyers?My five February 2018 sales were comprised of three Bolt EVs, one Volt, and one Equinox, which means the Bolt EV is rapidly rising, in my overall lifetime sales by model. It is still in 3rd place (42 units), with the Silverado 1500 (55 units) in 2nd place and the Volt (76 units) in first. The Bolt EV got there in eight months. I’ve been selling the other vehicles for 53 months!My Vehicle Sales By ModelBy vehicle type, my lifetime sales are 28% plug-ins, 20% SUVs, 18% pickups (down 1%), 15% sports cars. The rest are sedans & vans (19%).

Plug-in sales, compared to the same month a year ago, were split:

  • Chevy Volt: DOWN 46% (983 vs. 1,820) **Bolt EV effect?
  • Chevy Bolt EV: UP 50% (1,424 vs. 952)
  • Nissan Leaf: DOWN 14% (895 vs. 1,037) **new model
  • Plug-in Toyota Prius: UP 51% (2,050 vs. 1,362)
  • Tesla Model S: DOWN 46% (1,125 vs. 1,750)
  • Tesla Model X: UP 9% (875 vs. 800)
  • BMW i3: UP 96% (623 vs. 318)
  • Ford Fusion Energi: DOWN 5% (794 vs. 837)
  • Honda Clarity BEV & PHEV: (was not available in February 2017)
  • Tesla Model 3: (was not available in February 2017)