US Plug-In Car Sales Post Highest Ever Month in March

Video screen capture. Edmunds

Between Tesla finally getting Model 3s out, and the new Nissan Leaf hitting forecourts, it seems plug-in cars are moving fast.

Market watchers and media analysts may be slamming Tesla for missing their 2,500-cars-a-week production goals, but they are still churning out plug-in cars at an incredible rate. In doing so, they are almost single-handedly changing what the electric vehicle market looks like.

Inside EVs reports that March was a record-setting month for electric and plug-in vehicle sales in the US, with a whopping 26,373 plug-ins delivered. Compare that to 18,542 the year before, and it starts to feel like something big is going on.

Of course, it's dangerous to read too much into any one month. New models and fluctuations in factory output can create significant statistical noise.

Tesla, for example, may finally be turning a corner on its production hell, and delivered 3,820 Model 3s, 3,375 Model Ss, and 2,825 Model Xs. That's a lot of Teslas, and serves as a counterpoint to hyped stories that the car maker is facing imminent doom. Meanwhile the brand new Nissan Leaf saw 1,500 deliveries in March, compared to just 895 in February. That's not surprising given these are so fresh off the factory floor, but it will be interesting to see whether sales grow from here—or if they plateau as people wait for longer range options to become available.

On a personal level, I was also interested to note that estimated Chrysler Pacifica eHybrid sales have been rising steadily this year from 375 in January, through 450 in February to 480 in March. Yes, that's not exactly a huge number compared to the Leafs and the Model 3s of this world—but given the outsized impact of larger vehicles, I'm excited to see signs that electrification may be gaining traction in this segment too. My own family's experiences with this vehicle have been overwhelmingly positive—and I know of three other families in our community who have taken the plunge and are loving (and telling others about) their purchase too.

I suspect that this is only the beginning. Plug-in car sales have been growing steadily for some time to come, but at some point they will really take off. Anecdotally at least, the number of people I know who ask about—and are interested in—plug-in cars, compared to the number of people who currently own one, suggest there's plenty of room for the market to grow further.

Watch this space.