Plug-in vehicle sales beating overall market, Tesla quarterly numbers exceed expectations

EV sales beat overall market:  Plug-in vehicles had a strong increase in the first half of the year, while U.S. and global total new vehicle sales stalled out. InsideEVs reports that 148,704 plug-in vehicles were sold in the U.S. during the first half of 2019, compared to 124,256 for first half of 2019. That makes for an increase of 19.67 percent over that same period last year of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Through May, there were 840,814 in global plug-in vehicle sales, versus 591,796 for the first five months of 2018 — an increase of 42 percent over that same period last year.

As for overall new vehicle sales in the U.S., sales were down 2.4 percent halfway through 2019, and is expected to be at 16.9 million by the end of the year; that would be the first time total light-duty new vehicle sales would be below 17 million since 2014. Global new vehicle sales are expected tom come in at 78.7 million units, which is about the same level as 2017 and 2018. The global market had seen a leap in 2016 over the previous years. Sales are still considered to be strong this year; rising auto loans have hurt demand. However, some analysts believe that new vehicle sales will be declining in the U.S., and eventually other markets, as car ownership drops in importance and alternative forms of mobility become more popular.

The Tesla Model 3 continues to dominate U.S. market with 21,225 units sold in June versus No. 2 on the list, the Tesla Model X, which sold 2,725 units during that month. Battery electric vehicles are still dominating the U.S. market. For May 2019 sales, Electric Drive Transportation Association reported there were 21,248 BEVs sold, 7,138 plug-in hybrids, and 283 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Tesla performance up:  Tesla’s stock went up 7 percent Tuesday after reporting it produced 87,048 vehicles in the second quarter while delivering 95,200, strong performance that exceeded analyst forecasts. The company manufactured 17,650 Model S and X vehicles and 77,550 Model 3s. Among deliveries, 77,550 were Model 3s while the other 17,650 were Models S and X. Right before the quarterly report, CEO Elon Musk was on Twitter promoting Tesla Direct, a new service that offers some buyers of the Model 3, S and X the option to have their car dropped off at their home or office. It’s gaining a lot of interest and support, and some considering it an element of Tesla focusing on its strengths — quality EVs and a high level of customer service.

Cruise gains SoftBank investment:  Cruise Automation, a U.S. self-driving vehicle company majority-owned by General Motors Co. (and operating under the name GM Cruise), announced Friday that a U.S. national security panel approved a $2.25 billion investment in the firm by Japan’s SoftBank Corp. SoftBank has come under increasing U.S. scrutiny over its ties to Chinese firms in the face of an escalating trade and technology war between those two countries. It comes out of SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund investment pool.

VW’s Paris Accord strategy:  Volkswagen has released more information on its commitment made earlier this year to commit itself to the goals of the Paris Agreement. The commitment to carbon neutrality comes in three parts: reducing carbon dioxide emitted from vehicles and factories; adopting renewable energy sources, whether at the plant level for Volkswagen and its suppliers, or encouraging their use for Volkswagen owners; and using carbon offsets to tackle those remaining carbon emissions that can’t be further reduced. One key element of hitting its target by 2050 will be making its vehicles and production carbon neutral. That includes Volkswagen vehicles sold in the US and the factory in Chattanooga, powered by a planned Group-wide investment in EVs sold worldwide – more than $50 billion over the next four years, with approximately $10 billion from the VW brand alone.

Sharing MEB platform:  Ford and Volkswagen have reached an initial agreement to share electric and autonomous vehicle technologies, extending their alliance beyond working together on commercial vehicles, a source familiar with the matter said. VW will share its MEB electric vehicle platform with Ford, the source said. VW’s supervisory board is due to discuss deepening the alliance at a meeting on July 11, 2019, a second source told Reuters.

Taking a deeper look at alternative fuel vehicle sales figures

Take a look at this chart, which WardsAuto published in late February showing something quite rare: detailed sales numbers on every type of alternative fuel vehicle sold in the US over the past five years in the light-duty passenger vehicle market. WardsAuto is getting these numbers from its own internal database of sales figures. I’m not sure what the “Unspecified Gas/Diesel” category means, and WardsAuto has not yet responded to my inquiry about it. However, looking at each of the vehicle categories offers a comprehensive view of market trends…….

  • Hybrids continue to make up the largest share of US new vehicle sales for alt-fuel vehicles, but “clean diesel” isn’t far behind – 3.2% of total market share for hybrids in 2013 versus 2.85% for diesel. Some would argue that diesel shouldn’t be analyzed at all as an alternative fuel – it still comes entirely from oil; regardless, it is getting considered as an alternative by a few analysts as more Americans are starting to own them for passenger cars for the first time ever in place of gasoline engine vehicles. Strong performance and fuel efficiency are helping German automakers sell them in this market, and US automakers are starting to get into that space.
  • Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up .64% of new vehicle sales last year – only two thirds of a percent. However, the growth rate since starting plug-in sales in late 2010 is outstripping where hybrid sales, mainly from Toyota and Honda, were performing in their first years in the early 2000s. There are more EVs coming to market this year and beyond, which should help grow their sales numbers – along with pricing coming down and more charging stations being installed around the country.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sales are still very small; the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle is going to be on the market by early summer and has a production volume target of 1,000 units through 2015. There will be other models coming on the market through Toyota and Honda next year.
  • Hybrid sales are nearing 500,000 units per year, jumping up significantly in 2012. Forecasters, including JD Power and Associates, see hybrids growing in sales percentages in the next 10 years. There’s a lot more hybrid vehicle options at dealerships now than about five years ago, and that will continue to grow.
  • Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle numbers are very small with very little available on the retail market – the Honda Civic Natural Gas being about it. The Ford F-150 half-ton that can run on natural gas and propane came on the market last summer, and Chrysler and GM have heavier pickups more suited to commercial usage than passenger. Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has interest in more CNG-powered vehicles coming to the US, as natural gas has played an important role in Italian transportation since the 1950s.