While EV sales rise, JATO counts 4,000 fewer Model S than Tesla

Another one missing from the stats

Another one missing from the stats

Insideevs has been tracking sales of plug-in electric vehicles for longer than its non-existent menu system reveals. For a long time, tracking the anemic sales of battery-operated conveyances took neither much effort, nor many digits. Suddenly, and contradicting conventional wisdom, EV sales reach record levels. As a victim of EV success, Tesla ends up between the big wheels of global automakers, as hard data, unearthed by the Daily Kanban, show.

Plug-in sales by model
Insideevs, Jan-Nov U.S.
Nissan LEAF 27,098
Chevrolet Volt 17,315
Toyota Prius PHV 12,772
Tesla Model S (est) 13,800
Ford Fusion Energi 10,009
Ford C Max Energi 7,130
BMW i3 5,079
smart ED 2,243
Ford Focus Electric 1,720
Fiat 500e 1,578
Total plug-ins U.S. 104,997
Total plug-ins worldwide 256,377
Source: Insideevs.com

“In updating our monthly EV sales chart with the latest data for November 2014,” reports an enthusiastic Insideevs, “we noticed a 6-digit number that we’d never before seen in a single calendar year. That number, 100,000, represents a first for the U.S.”

Indeed, EV sales are on a sudden tear in the U.S., contradicting conventional wisdom that lower gasoline prices will kill the electric car, yet again.

Individual model stats are likewise taxing public perception. Sales of the ballyhooed Tesla Model S are dawdling in third place, and because they are estimated, they could even be eclipsed by the plug-in version of Toyota’s Prius, especially if Toyota would deliver the darned thing in the quantities demanded by its dealers. The numbers could also be grossly overstated, if a respected data company is right. We will get to that in a minute.

In number two of Insideev’s list, we find the much maligned Chevrolet Volt. Chevy’s range extender is not doing well. “The Volt will be the first electric vehicle to post two consecutive years of falling sales in America,” Insideevs says. Ailing as the Volt may be, Chevy moved 25 percent more than Musk’s second coming of the Model T, a.k.a. the Model S.

The top spot of Insideev’s tally is taken by an unassailable Nissan Leaf, which has outsold Tesla’s Model S by two to one. The chart counts 27,098 Leafs sold, vs. Tesla’s 13,800 estimated Model S. For the 22nd consecutive time, Nissan LEAF set a monthly sales record. Despite the hard data, public perception is that Teslas are the only EVs that are sold in quantity. Musk is rightly frightened that virtual reality will kill us all, virtual reality has already infected our brains.

Cars are a global business, and a sure way to confuse ourselves is to look at the market through American eyes only. Global data are harder to come by, but they are available. A good source for global auto data is JATO, a UK company that feeds the planning departments of many global automakers. JATO wants money for its quality data, but they are worth the expense, if your investments depend on facts.  (If you see big differences to sales numbers stated by OEMs:  They usually announce deliveries to dealers. As much as possible, JATO tries to report actual registrations. Tesla is make-to-order, and Musk said: “We have no inventory.”)

The Daily Kanban obtained global JATO data for EVs and PHVs for the months from January through September 2014. Another month should be available shortly, it won’t change the picture much.

Plug-in sales by model
Global, Jan-Sept 2014
1 Nissan LEAF,EV 44,897
2 Mitsubishi OUTLANDER,PHV 23,908
3 Tesla MODEL S,EV 17,815
4 Chevrolet VOLT,PHV 15,898
5 Toyota PRIUS,PHV 15,268
6 Ford FUSION,PHV 10,389
7 Ford C-MAX,PHV 7,493
8 BMW I8,PHV 6,147
9 Renault ZOE,EV 6,087
10 BMW I3,EV 5,142
11 FIAT 500,EV 4,705
12 smart FORTWO,EV 4,604
13 Volvo V60,PHV 4,114
14 Volkswagen UP,EV 4,071
15 BYD QIN,PHV 2,717
16 Renault KANGOO EXPRESS,EV LCV 2,398
17 Volkswagen GOLF,EV 2,162
18 Ford FOCUS,EV 1,931
19 Porsche PANAMERA,PHV 1,624
20 Kandi OTHER,EV 1,584
21 Mitsubishi I,EV 1,527
22 Kia SOUL,EV 1,252
23 Toyota RAV4,EV 967
24 Chevrolet SPARK,EV 937
25 Cadillac ELR,PHV 916
26 Nissan NV200,EV LCV 896
27 Bolloré BLUECAR,EV 888
28 Kandi KANDI,EV 814
29 BYD E6,EV 809
30 Mitsubishi MINICAB (Van),EV LCV 639
31 Chery QQ3,EV 603
32 Zotye ZHIDOU E20,EV 584
33 Citroën C-ZERO,EV 557
34 Renault KANGOO,EV LCV 460
35 Audi A3,PHV 415
36 JAC HEYUE IEV,EV 412
37 Honda ACCORD,PHV 407
38 Peugeot ION,EV 407
39 Vauxhall AMPERA,PHV 405
40 Honda FIT,EV 363
41 Volkswagen GOLF,PHV 321
42 Opel AMPERA,PHV 293
43 BAIC E-SERIES,EV 225
44 Roewe 550,PHV 196
45 Samsung SM3,EV 186
46 Citroën BERLINGO,EV LCV 162
47 Renault FLUENCE,EV 162
48 Roewe E50,EV 158
49 Peugeot PARTNER,EV LCV 147
50 Venucia E30,EV 143
51 Riich M1,EV 127
52 Mitsubishi MINICAB (Truck),EV LCV 115
53 Porsche 918,PHV 105
54 Chana Z-SHINE,PHV 101
55 Peugeot ION,EV LCV 79
56 Piaggio PORTER,EV LCV 66
57 Holden VOLT,PHV 55
58 Fisker KARMA,PHV 53
59 Mia electric MIA,EV 42
60 Mercedes-Benz S-CLASS,PHV 38
61 Nissan EVALIA,EV 33
62 BAIC SENOVA D70,EV 31
63 Alkè  XT,EV LCV 20
64 McLaren P1,PHV 20
65 Aeolus S30,EV 19
66 TH!NK CITY,EV 12
67 Aeolus E30,EV 8
68 Ford TRANSIT CONNECT,EV LCV 7
69 BYD F3,PHV 5
70 Chery EQ,EV 4
71 Peugeot PARTNER ORIGIN,EV LCV 4
72 Tesla ROADSTER,EV 4
73 Porsche CAYENNE,PHV 4
74 Renault Trucks MAXITY,EV LCV 3
75 Brandt Motors CITELEC,EV LCV 3
76 Mitsubishi I,EV LCV 3
77 Tazzari EM1,EV 3
78 Volkswagen XL1,PHV 3
79 Landwin FASHION,EV 2
80 Tazzari ZERO,EV 2
81 Zotye M300,EV 2
82 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG,EV 1
83 DOK-ING XD,EV 1
84 Hyundai I10,EV 1
85 Lifan LIFAN 620,EV 1
86 Muses MOOVILLE,EV LCV 1
Total 200,183
Source: JATO

Globally, JATO counted a little over 200,000 plug-ins as registered through September 2014. Insideevs figures some 256,000 through November, which is in the ballpark, if a little optimistic.

At the top of the model list, there is a familiar picture. The Nissan LEAF leads worldwide by a wide margin with nearly 45,000 put on the world’s streets through September 2014. In number 2, a surprise: AWOL stateside, the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV has been a hot seller in markets like Japan, the Netherlands, and the UK. Most of the following top ranks are familiar to the U.S. viewer, except for the Renault Zoe. The Leaf’s French cousin is not available in the U.S., but it is already on place 9 in the global ranking.

Plug-in sales by group
Global, Jan-Sept 2014
1 Renault/Nissan 55,262
2 Mitsubishi Motors Corporation 26,192
3 Ford Motor Company 19,820
4 General Motors Company 18,504
5 Tesla Motors, Inc. 17,819
6 Toyota Motor Corporation 16,235
7 Bayerische Motoren Werke AG 11,289
8 Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft 8,705
9 Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. 4,705
10 Daimler AG 4,643
11 Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. 4,114
12 BYD Auto Co., Ltd. 3,531
13 Kandi Technologies Group, Inc. 2,398
14 Peugeot S.A. 1,356
15 Hyundai Motor Company 1,253
16 Bolloré S.A. 888
17 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 770
18 Chery Automobile Co., Ltd. 734
19 Zotye International Automobile 586
20 Anhui Jianghuai Automobile 412
21 SAIC Motor Corporation Limited 354
22 Beijing Automotive Industry Holding 256
23 Chang’an Automobile (Group) Co. 103
24 Piaggio & C. SpA 66
25 Fisker Automotive, Inc. 53
26 Mia electric 42
27 Dongfeng Motor Corporation 27
28 Alkè 20
29 McLaren Automotive 20
30 TH!NK Global 12
31 Tazzari Group 5
32 AB Volvo 3
33 Brandt Motors 3
34 DOK-ING d.o.o. 1
35 Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. 1
36 Muses SAS 1
Total 200,184
Source: JATO

Once we look at PHV sales through the eyes of global auto groups, we see a picture that rudely disrupts the fantasy of Tesla disrupting the auto business. The top four places are already taken by some of the world’s largest automakers, and with the exception of Renault/Nissan, they barely have started cranking up the segment. Renault/Nissan has been at it as long as Tesla, and it is way ahead. Tesla does not have the depth, expertise, and capital to ever catch up with the electrified Alliance.

Pure EV sales by model
Global, Jan-Sept 2014
1 Nissan LEAF,EV 44,897
2 Tesla MODEL S,EV 17,815
3 Renault ZOE,EV 6,087
4 BMW I3,EV 5,142
5 FIAT 500,EV 4,705
6 smart FORTWO,EV 4,604
7 Volkswagen UP,EV 4,071
8 Renault KANGOO EXPRESS,EV LCV 2,398
9 Volkswagen GOLF,EV 2,162
10 Ford FOCUS,EV 1,931
11 Kandi OTHER,EV 1,584
12 Mitsubishi I,EV 1,527
13 Kia SOUL,EV 1,252
14 Toyota RAV4,EV 967
15 Chevrolet SPARK,EV 937
16 Nissan NV200,EV LCV 896
17 Bolloré BLUECAR,EV 888
18 Kandi KANDI,EV 814
19 BYD E6,EV 809
20 Chery QQ3,EV 603
21 Zotye ZHIDOU E20,EV 584
22 Citroën C-ZERO,EV 557
23 Renault KANGOO,EV LCV 460
24 JAC HEYUE IEV,EV 412
25 Peugeot ION,EV 407
26 Honda FIT,EV 363
27 BAIC E-SERIES,EV 225
28 Samsung SM3,EV 186
29 Citroën BERLINGO,EV LCV 162
30 Renault FLUENCE,EV 162
31 Roewe E50,EV 158
32 Peugeot PARTNER,EV LCV 147
33 Venucia E30,EV 143
34 Riich M1,EV 127
35 Mitsubishi MINICAB (Truck),EV LCV 115
36 Peugeot ION,EV LCV 79
37 Piaggio PORTER,EV LCV 66
38 Mia electric MIA,EV 42
39 Nissan EVALIA,EV 33
40 BAIC SENOVA D70,EV 31
41 Alkè  XT,EV LCV 20
42 Aeolus S30,EV 19
43 TH!NK CITY,EV 12
44 Aeolus E30,EV 8
45 Ford TRANSIT CONNECT,EV LCV 7
46 Chery EQ,EV 4
47 Peugeot PARTNER ORIGIN,EV LCV 4
48 Tesla ROADSTER,EV 4
49 Renault Trucks MAXITY,EV LCV 3
50 Brandt Motors CITELEC,EV LCV 3
51 Tazzari EM1,EV 3
52 Landwin FASHION,EV 2
53 Tazzari ZERO,EV 2
54 Zotye M300,EV 2
55 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG,EV 1
56 DOK-ING XD,EV 1
57 Hyundai I10,EV 1
58 Lifan LIFAN 620,EV 1
59 Muses MOOVILLE,EV LCV 1
Total 108,646
Source: JATO

For battery purists, we have broken out global pure EV sales through September. Globally, sales of pure EVs by the Renault/Nissan Alliance are more than three times those of perceived EV leader Tesla. More worrisome for people who bet on Tesla’s future: The Alliance’s pure EV sales grow faster than those of Tesla.

Pure EV sales by Group
Global, Jan-Sept 2014
1 Renault/Nissan 55,262
2 Tesla Motors, Inc. 17,819
3 Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft 6,233
4 Bayerische Motoren Werke AG 5,142
5 Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. 4,705
6 Daimler AG 4,605
7 Kandi Technologies Group, Inc. 2,398
8 Ford Motor Company 1,938
9 Mitsubishi Motors Corporation 1,642
10 Peugeot S.A. 1,356
11 Hyundai Motor Company 1,252
12 Toyota Motor Corporation 967
13 General Motors Company 937
14 Bolloré S.A. 888
15 BYD Auto Co., Ltd. 809
16 Chery Automobile Co., Ltd. 734
17 Zotye International Automobile 586
18 Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. 412
19 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 363
20 Beijing Automotive Industry Holding 256
21 SAIC Motor Corporation Limited 158
22 Piaggio & C. SpA 66
23 Mia electric 42
24 Dongfeng Motor Corporation 27
25 Alkè 20
26 TH!NK Global 12
27 Tazzari Group 5
28 AB Volvo 3
29 Brandt Motors 3
30 Chang’an Automobile (Group) 2
31 DOK-ING d.o.o. 1
32 Hyundai Motor Company 1
33 Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. 1
34 Muses SAS 1
Total 108,646
Source: JATO

Even more disconcerting for Tesla: Global giants are no longer asleep at the EV wheel. The world’s second largest automaker Volkswagen already is in place three behind Tesla, and it just has started after having been an unrepentant EV-skeptic for many years. China’s largest automaker Volkswagen said last month it would launch more than 20 models of battery-driven cars in China over the next few years. At home in Europe, it plans a range of compact electric cars that will go 300 km [186 miles] by 2015-17, and which will have a range of around 500-600 km [310-372 miles] by the end of the decade. VW plans investments of $130+ billion for the next 5 years.

We also see EV makers making the upper ranks of the list that are hardly known. Ever heard of Kandi (bigger than Ford) or Bolloré (right behind GM)? Apparently, Tesla is not alone with the urge to disrupt the global auto market.

Who cares about Kandi, you say? Tesla should, for instance. Unknown Kandi single-handedly sold 2,398 pure (and rather obscure) EVs in China January through September of 2014, compared to 439 Tesla Model S. How do we know this, with Tesla famously refusing to break out sales by region and month? Again, JATO’s numbers come in very handy. Craving those numbers by region Musk does not want to provide because they might confuse us? JATO has them.

Model S Sales by country
Jan-Sept 2014
United States 10,200
Norway 3,535
Netherlands 1,003
Germany 576
China 439
Canada 390
Belgium 361
Switzerland 344
Denmark 302
France 218
Sweden 170
Austria 101
Finland 64
Japan 41
Italy 35
Spain 14
Slovenia 11
Poland 8
Croatia 3
Total 17,815
Source: JATO

The attentive reader will notice that the Chinese numbers differ greatly from what has been reported. Insideevs says that “in September, an estimated 500 Model S EVs were sold in China.” JATO has less than that for the whole year. It is widely reported that Tesla sold 2,800 Model S in China January through September. JATO only found 439. JATO is generous, China-focused equity firm JLWarren Capital counted 432 through September. We don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong. All we know is that Elon Musk answers “Um, no, sorry,” when asked for detailed numbers. In absence of those, we recommend to do what major automakers do, and to use JATO’s numbers.

(According to Hybridcars, Tesla explained the huge discrepancy with bad data “and/or scalpers buying up new Model S sedans and stockpiling them to resell.” Ah, o.k. Then there are these reports of massive grey imports, a matter so pressing that Tesla denied warranty coverage on rogue Model S brought to China. With those registered, we did expect more on the streets than Tesla’s official numbers.)

(The very attentive reader may note a discrepancy between 17,819 Tesla EVs sold globally, and 17,815 Model S. There were all of 4 Tesla Roadsters sold in the year so far.)

Tesla global quarterly sales
2014 Tesla JATO Difference
Q3 7,785 6400 -1,385
Q2 7579 6300 -1,279
Q1 6457 5119 -1,338
Jan-Sept 21,821 17819 -4,002
Source: Tesla, JATO

Speaking of missing cars: Summing up Tesla’s officially released global deliveries of the Model S, we get 21,821 Jan-Sept. JATO only found 17,819 on the world’s streets. Did someone say that Tesla could be sitting on 3,000 unsold cars? The difference between Tesla’s and JATO’s Jan-Sept numbers is 4,002.

Discrepancies aside (which could and should be cured with dependable data from Tesla), fact is that the EV market is finally waking up, and that Tesla is underperforming the nascent market. Usually, a rising tide lifts all ships, but in the case of EV champion Tesla, it could mean a drowning. The EV market is approaching levels where it is taken seriously by global automakers. Until now, many made those cars for propaganda purposes, only to get green creds, carbon credits, or to fill government quotas. With industry levels seen reaching half a million EVs and PHVs in a few years, global automakers are getting their hands around a market size where they can bring their massive scale of efficient production and marketing to bear.

Sadly for stock portfolios, the complexities of the car industry are widely misunderstood, also , and especially on Wall Street. There are no secrets to developing an EV. It is less complex than a conventional car with its many moving mechanical parts. The hard part, especially for a neophyte, is to produce a car in large quantities, efficiently, and with a repeatable high quality.

“People don’t quite appreciate how hard it is to manufacture something. It is really hard,” Musk lamented recently, and he is yet to find out how truly hard it is once that something is made in true volumes. This is where global automakers excel, some of them had a hundred years to learn it.

Wikipedia’s list of defunct automobile manufacturers of the United States counts more than 1,600 automakers who had big hopes, who tried and failed. The list probably missed a few.

Tesla does not hold the keys to disruptive technology. Tesla is a small scale traditional maker of high-end cars with a market limited by its choice of powertrains. This market is about to see appreciable volumes, and the global colossuses will roll over Tesla once the numbers make sense. They slowly are beginning to make sense. Of course, there are skeptics who claim that the market for EV’s won’t go above a fraction of a percent of global car sales. Either way, in the long term, the way Tesla is heading is that list on Wikipedia.