Led By Tesla, September U.S. Electrical Vehicle Sales Surge

The month of September was another big one for U.S. electrical vehicle sales. And, once again, despite a growing barrage from its increasingly irrational detractors, Tesla just keeps crushing it as a U.S. and global clean energy leader.

Tesla Leads Record September EV Sales

In total, 21,325 plug-in vehicles were sold in the U.S. during September. This sales rate represented a 24 percent growth over September of 2016 and amounted to the second highest number of electrical vehicles sold in the U.S. during any month on record. Total annual sales are now 142,514 and appear ready to approach or exceed the 200,000 mark by year-end.

(Strong electrical vehicle sales growth in the U.S. continued during September — with Tesla remaining ahead of the pack. Image source: Inside EVs.)

Tesla again showed itself as a strong market leader with combined Model S and X sales of 7,980. These models, respectively, held the top two sales spots for the month — followed closely by the long-range Chevy Bolt EV at 2,632 sales after nearly a year on the market. The Toyota Prius Prime and Chevy Volt plug-in hybrids rounded out the top five spots at 1,899 and 1,453 sales, respectively.

The main story of these best-sellers appears to be range — with all of these vehicles boasting long range electric or plug-in-hybrid capability. But Tesla’s high quality luxury offerings still hold an edge due to better technology, better charging infrastructure support, and superior overall capabilities. What’s even more ironic is that Tesla’s vehicles — that often sell for upwards of 100,000 dollars each — are still moving at greater volumes than the 35,000 dollar Chevy Bolt.

Chevy Bolt and Model 3 — Place-Holder vs Industry-Mover

The Bolt has a 238 mile range, which is a bit shorter than the higher-end Teslas which now can travel for between around 250 and 315 miles on a single charge. The Bolt’s quality is also considerably lower than the higher-priced Teslas — with slower acceleration, economy body styling, inferior handling and less features. As noted above, the Bolt also does not enjoy the support of Tesla’s large and expanding charging infrastructure. All that said, the Bolt remains an excellent EV for the price. It’s just that one wonders if GM’s heart is really in it to go all-in to sell the vehicle. Or is GM just placing a necessary high-quality competitor in a strategic attempt to stymie enthusiasm for the upcoming, trend-setting, Tesla Model 3?

(Obama-era CAFE standards are a major driver for auto industry transformation away from polluting fossil fuels and toward zero-emissions electric vehicles. Industry leaders like GM have long fought a policy that incentives electrical vehicle production and ultimately produces the combined benefits of moving the country toward energy independence, renewable energy, healthier air, and a less hostile climate. This year, the Trump Administration has sided with fossil-fuel based automakers and moved to roll back Obama’s helpful CAFE standards. Image source: Alternative Energy Stocks.)

A big hint comes in the form of continued opposition by major automakers like GM to increasing CAFE standards. From Electrek earlier this week:

In a time where a surprising number of major automakers are announcing that they believe electric cars are the future of the auto industry, we are still seeing them complaining about, and in some cases lobbying against, the fuel emission standards.

Now trade groups representing virtually the entire auto industry are again putting pressure on U.S. regulators to weaken rules that would force them to produce more electric cars.

So the rational question arises — would an automaker who really believes that the future is electric, who is really dedicated to the success of vehicles like the Bolt and the Volt also be fighting to remove fuel economy standards? If this appears like hypocrisy to some, then it probably is. A duck, after all, does quack from time to time.

Moving Economic Eggs into the All-Electric Basket = No Harmful Fossil Fuel Conflict of Interest

Tesla, on the other hand, only produces electrical vehicles. So, unlike GM, it doesn’t have a gigantic fossil fuel burning vehicle production infrastructure hanging around its neck and dragging it back down into the vast ocean of structural industry contributors to worsening climate change impacts.

And while critics decry production delays for the Model 3, GM’s own ambitions for the Bolt were comparatively modest — aiming for around 50,000 sales per year vs Tesla’s ultimate goal of 400,000 to 500,000 for the Model 3. One of these cars, therefore, looks like a shot at an industry defender while the other appears to be aimed directly at transformation. And who wins out in this David and Goliath struggle will have far-reaching energy, climate, and vehicle industry repercussions.

(Total U.S. EV sales for the year of 2017. Image source: Inside EVs.)

Sales of the key vehicle in question, the Model 3, remained slow at 115 units in September. This following 30 and 75 sales respectively during July and August. Tesla admitted facing production bottlenecks in its planned massive ramp up for the Model 3 aimed at meeting the demand of an amazing 500,000 pre-orders. Tesla critics have had a field day as the all-electric automaker struggles in its attempts to get its famed ‘alien dreadnought’ production of all-electric vehicles up and running.

The slower ramp in Model 3 production, so far, is admittedly a bit of a bump in the road for Tesla. But critics’ claims of Tesla’s ‘imminent demise’ have become a common and hackneyed cry over recent years. So we can take the present brouhaha with a couple of grains of salt and view any major downward moves in Tesla stock as a panic-induced opportunity for more steady, savvy, and environmentally conscious investors.

Investing in Clean Energy Future Makes Moral and Economic Sense

To this point, Tesla uses its stock market capitalization to help fund its energy transformation efforts. So Tesla investors are helping to fund a global move away from fossil fuels. And for putting their money on the line in this way, we should express to them our thanks and gratitude.

In the larger context, electrical vehicles, and more broadly, a related ramping battery storage production chain forms one of three key pillars to the global energy transition away from fossil fuels. The other two pillars are composed of wind and solar. All of these technologies produce zero carbon emissions in use. And due to their ability to hit economies of scale in production that result in reduced costs, higher efficiency, and higher energy densities over time, they have a demonstrated capability to increasingly out-compete dirty fossil fuels and rapidly reduce carbon emissions.

So when new clean industry leaders like Tesla are forcing laggards like GM to produce electrical vehicles and market them, even as market-defenders, then those of us who support clean energy and are worried about the threat of climate change should all be cheering.

RELATED INFORMATION AND STATEMENTS:

If true, then why continue to fight CAFE standards? —

DISCLOSURE:

I presently hold Tesla stock as part of a larger renewable energy and sustainable industry investment portfolio. For me, this is part of a morally driven choice to divest from fossil fuel based energy companies and invest in clean energy companies. Though these choices incur considerable financial risk, I believe that wholesale investment by society in fossil fuels results in severe ultimate harm — which I will not be a party to. I urge others to seriously consider joining the campaign to divest/invest.

Links:

Monthly Plug-in Sales Scorecard

Automakers Claiming to be ‘All-in on Electric Cars’ are Still Lobbying Against Stricter Fuel Standards

Aggressive New CAFE Standards

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India Utility Plans to Build EVs, Startup Bollinger Motors Launches Gritty Electric Truck, Wind Energy Boosters Push Europe to Meet Paris Goals Faster

Internal combustion engine automobile manufacturers and fossil fuel investors, eat your hearts out…

Indian electrical power generation utility JSW has decided to throw its weight behind building electrical vehicles for the larger Southeast Asian market. On the other side of the world, a small U.S. EV startup plans to sell 10,000 to 20,000 off-road all-electric SUVs each year. Meanwhile, still further east in Europe, an industry consulting group is recommending a rapid off-shore wind energy build-out to help address human-caused climate change.

An Indian Electrical Power Company Decides to take a Shot at EV Manufacturing

According to reports from The Economic Times of India, the utility JSW plans to pursue an electrical vehicle (EV) build-out as part of a larger drive by India’s government to have all new vehicles sold in the country be electrified by 2030. The company is outlaying 3,000 to 4,000 crore, or more than half a billion dollars, as an investment to jumpstart its EV manufacturing by 2020.

Though JSW’s previous economic interests have primarily focused on electrical power generation, steel, and mining, the group appears to be adopting a Tesla-like business model going forward by integrating energy storage, charging infrastructure, and electrical vehicles. Prashant Jain, JSW’s chief executive officer noted to ET that:

“India is at an inflexion point and the three businesses that we have identified offer growth. While battery storage and charging infrastructure would be a forward integration for us, electric vehicle is an adjacent business, but we believe it’s a huge opportunity as it will offer level playing field to new entrants.”

Upstart Bollinger Motors’ Serious Off-Road SUV

Across the Pacific in the U.S. a small company out of Hobart, New York, population 47,000, has produced a serious EV sport utility vehicle prototype. The Jeep-Hummer mashup looking thing has an impressive 362 horsepower and can be configured with 120 or 200 miles of all-electric range. A 6100 lb towing capacity and massive wheel base communicate an underlying attitude of grit that’s something entirely new in the electrical auto world and, well, for lack of a better set of descriptors, rough and rugged.

(With the advent of less expensive and more widely available battery packs and electrical drive trains, EV and energy storage companies are starting to pop up all over the place. The above video shows Bollinger Motor’s planned EV off-road truck — which it hopes to produce at a rate of 10,000 to 20,000 per year. JSW, a traditional India-based utility, just threw its own hat into the EV ring this week. With so few EVs available and so much demand for clean energy alternatives, the market at this time appears to be wide open. Video source: Bollinger Motors.)

At $60,000 per truck, it’s well within the traditional off-road market. And Bollinger ultimately plans to sell between 10,000 and 20,000 copies of this mean machine each year — if it can make the regulatory hurdles for U.S. auto manufacturing and find a partner that will help it produce all those thousands of units. A big if — but one that achieved could really help to jump-start the off-road EV market in the U.S.

Looking at traditional auto manufacturers, you kind of have to shrug and say — why didn’t they think of this? But one industry’s apathy is another entrepreneur’s opportunity. Or at least so thinks Bollinger.

Big Wind Energy Build Recommended for North Sea

Electrical vehicles are a key element of a synergistic suite of renewable energy technologies including wind, solar and energy storage that are increasingly capable of replacing fossil fuel burning infrastructure and removing harmful carbon emissions. Rapid growth in these industries enables swift reductions in the amount of heat-trapping gasses from human sources presently hitting the atmosphere.

Facts that were obviously on the minds of wind energy boosters in Europe during recent days as Michiel Muller of energy and climate consulting group Ecofys published a new report recommending a rapid increase in offshore wind development in order for Europe to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals. Muller noted that to prevent increasingly harmful warming, “Europe will need a fully decarbonized electricity supply by 2045. Renewables are essential to making this happen.”

(A graphic description of a large wind energy build-out recommended to help Europe meet its Paris Climate Agreement goals. Image source: Europe’s Growth Rate in Offshore Energy Must Triple to Get Paris Goals in Reach.)

Muller recommends adding significant new off-shore wind energy supplies from North Sea countries like France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

During recent years, turbine size increases and industrial mass production efficiency gains have resulted in falling costs for both onshore and offshore wind generation. Offshore wind, which in the past has been somewhat more expensive than onshore wind or other traditional power sources, is becoming more cost-competitive. And it’s a power source that suffers less intermittency than its onshore brethren. However, lower solar and onshore wind prices present additional renewable energy and carbon emission reduction options for European states.

Links:

Europe Must Triple Off-Shore Wind to Bring Paris Goals Within Reach

Europe’s Growth Rate in Offshore Energy Must Triple to Get Paris Goals in Reach

JSW Energy Plans Electric Vehicles Manufacturing by 2020

JSW Energy

The Bollinger B1 is an All-Electric Truck with 360 Horsepower and up to 200 Miles of Range

Bollinger Motors

Hat tip to Suzanne

US Sees Nearly 10,000 EV and PHEV Sales in January and February 2013, Tripling 2012 Sales For Same Period

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) more than tripled during January and February of 2013 when compared to the same period in 2012.

Overall, sales totaled 9781 during the first two months of 2013 vs 3089 during the same period of 2012.

Significantly reduced prices of lithium ion batteries has allowed automakers to offer substantial incentives on EVs and PHEVs while still making a profit. In addition, the number of plug in hybrid and base electric vehicles keeps expanding. The result has been a massive sales jump over 2012.

Leading EV and PHEV sales is the Chevy Volt with nearly 3,000 US sales so far in 2013. Chevy expects to sell 36,000 Volts globally, a healthy increase over strong 2012 sales. The Volt’s competitors the Plug in Prius Hybrid and the Ford CMax and Fusion Energi PHEVs also made strong showings with combined sales of these models only a few hundred less than that of the Volt. While sales of competing vehicles continues to grow the Volt’s long base electric range of 40 miles combined with a number of very appealing purchase incentives provide a strong basis for the Volt’s continued lead in the PHEV market. Ford CMax and Fusion Energi which both support base electric ranges of 20 miles appear poised to take market share from the shorter range Prius Plug-in although significant incentives and strong marketing may help support the Prius for some time.

Base electric vehicles including the Leaf, Tesla luxury EVs, the Ford Focus Electric, Toyota’s RAV 4, Honda’s Electric FIT, and the Mitsubishi iMiEV showed combined sales of about 4,200. Among these, the increasingly cost-competitive Leaf, the Mitsubishi iMiEV, and Tesla’s luxury brands appear to dominate. A very economic SMART ForTwo EV will begin selling in March for a base price of 25,000 dollars without incentives and a range of 68 miles. As a city-only vehicle and including state, federal and dealer incentives, the ForTwo will likely be very appealing to customers in metro areas where the price of gasoline currently averages over 4 dollars per gallon (cutting 2,000 dollars or more each year off the gas bill).

If current trends in EV and PHEV sales continue, it appears these vehicles may approach the 100,000 sales mark by the end of this year. Gasoline prices are likely to continue to push drivers toward these far more efficient vehicles with prices for gasoline in 2012 showing highest ever averages that are unlikely to abate much through 2013.

Links:

http://insideevs.com/february-2013-plug-in-electric-vehicle-sales-report-card/

http://www.electricdrive.org/index.php?ht=d/sp/i/20952/pid/20952

Chevy Volt, EVs Provide Californians Opportunity to Take On High Gas Prices

As near back as two years ago, consumers had very limited options when it came to combatting high fuel prices. But, thanks to the EV charge led by the Chevy Volt, those options are no longer relegated to bike riding, car pooling, and staying at home.

And, for Californians suffering from the highest spike in gas prices in state history, this new option couldn’t come too soon. Over the past few weeks, a supply crisis has disrupted fuels shipped to California  and resulted in gasoline prices averaging over $4.60 a gallon statewide and over $5.50 a gallon in some locations.

“I haven’t seen a series of incidents like this, and it has led to the worst panic-driven rise in gasoline prices that I have seen in 35 years,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Times continued to note that the high prices were likely caused by too few people controlling consumer access to gasoline:

“When you’ve got such a small handful of owners controlling 14 refineries, it is inevitable that prices will go through the roof where there is friction in the delivery system,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.

“There are too few oil companies controlling too few refineries and they want too much in profits.”

But a recent surge in electric vehicle sales, over 5600 sold last month, is providing fed-up California drivers with options they never enjoyed before. Of the 5600 electric vehicles sold, a high proportion were purchases by California motorists. State support for EVs is through the roof and eccentric inventor Elon Musk keeps pounding the electric vehicle drum-beat.

Musk, just today, heightened investor interest in electric vehicles by purchasing 35,000 shares of his California-based EV manufacturer Tesla Motors. This was, perhaps, a consolidation ahead of a potential buyout of the niche electrics manufacturer.

Meanwhile, prices keep falling for the Chevy Volt which is now offering leases for as low as $249 per month — a very attractive offer when fuel prices are above $5 per gallon. A Volt could save a driver as much as $2000 dollars per year in fuel costs at California gas prices, so it may be no wonder that the Volt has hit record high sales for two months in a row.

Links:

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/oct/06/business/la-fi-gas-prices-20121006

http://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/elon-musk-recharges-his-tesla-shares-22712/

Bob Lutz: Chevy Volt On Verge of Profitability

A recent flurry of Volt bashing has arisen in the conservative media, likely, due to some desperate need to show that President Obama is a failure as Mitt Romney continues to trail in the polls. However, these destructive attacks target a source of American innovation and achievement as well as directly inhibit efforts for increasing energy independence at a time of rising fuel prices and climate instability.

So the question arises, do these sources really want to fight this battle?

The primary line of attack seems to have crystallized around a radical notion that each Volt is losing 40,000, 50,000, or even 60,000+ per vehicle sold. The fuzzy math includes investment in the production figures and makes a number of bad assumptions on the costs for vehicle systems. In the end, the numbers presented in the articles just don’t add up. And Bob Lutz agrees.

Lutz is both a conservative and a former executive at General Motors. So Lutz knows his business. And he apparently doesn’t wish to be drawn into the wrong side of a media war waged for political gain. In a recent interview Lutz noted:

“The statement that GM “loses” over $40K per Volt is preposterous. What the “analyst” in whom poor Ben Klayman placed his faith has done is to divide the total development cost and plant investment by the number of Volts produced thus  far. That’s like saying that a real estate company that puts up a $10 million building and has rental income of one million the first year is “losing” 9 million dollars, or several hundred thousand per renter.”

In the statement, Lutz refers to a recent article in Reuters which estimated the Volt lost 49,000 dollars per sale. Over past months, Reuters has been notorious for spewing this kind of bad information from everything related to alternative energy and climate change. They vacillate between responsible journalism and outrageous claims like the one posted above.

Lutz countered by noting that the Volt is likely very close to profitability already:

“Thus, the “Volt”, by my estimate, is either close to “variable break-even” or may be on the cusp of a positive gross margin. Deduct the per-unit allocation for all fixed cost, depreciation and amortization and it is, surely, still “under water”….but not by much, and less and less so as the volume builds and other, higher-margin GM cars, like the Cadillac ELR, piggy-back off of the Volt’s initial investment.”

Lutz’s comments come on the heels of two consecutive months of record Volt sales. A series of records some ‘journalists’ seem desperate to downgrade. I suppose the prospect of an American electric vehicle revolution is just too much of a good thing for some to stomach? In any case, despite these salient admissions by Lutz, the mad, ill founded, and half-crazed attacks on the Volt continue unabated. One would think that conservative-linked sources would have learned that attacking American innovation and the prowess of American workers was bad political policy. We’ll have to see how things bear out in the coming months and days. But, with each passing week, the purveyors of this form of ‘slanted beyond the tilt’ messaging are becoming more and more of a laughingstock.

Links:

http://insideevs.com/bob-lutz-responds-to-reuters-article-chevrolet-volt-is-at-variable-break-even-now-video/#comment-29792

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/09/13/volt-bashing-trumps-national-security-in-the-co/189876

Chevy Volt Hits New Record, Breaks 16,000 US Sales for 2012, Total Sales Worldwide Now Around 30,000 vehicles

September saw another record month for Chevy Volt sales in the US. Overall, 2851 Volts were sold just edging out August’s previous record of 2831 US sales. A combination of word of mouth, new Volt marketing strategies, and very appealing incentives to buyers pushed the revolutionary new auto out at ever-increasing rates.

Overall US sales are now 16338 for 2012 with total US sales since December of 2010 at 24335. Worldwide total sales for both the Volt and Ampera are now likely within a few vehicles of the 30,000 mark making the Volt the best selling electric vehicle of all time.

This month’s sales come despite a massive negative media storm in the conservative press attempting to kill off the revolutionary and disruptive new vehicle and a plug in electric design that threatens to lay the groundwork for breaking transportation’s dependence on fossil fuels across the world. The shrill storm of what could only be called negative advertising included a wide range of attacks using fuzzy math to inflate the Volt’s cost, to brand the vehicle as a taxpayer subsidized failure, or to, in an schizophrenic kind of wobbling criticize the Volt’s lowering cost to consumers.

I suppose these various magazines and pundits are against the American people getting a good deal on a revolutionary new technology that promises to kick open the door to US energy independence? In any case, the deafening silence from these sources on over 40 billion dollars in fossil fuel subsidies is telling to say the least. When will the fuzzy math stories on subsidized $10 per gallon gasoline emerge? We’re waiting.

In any case, the Volt is the spearhead in a surging US electric vehicles market. Overall, about 5,000 electric vehicles have sold in the US just this month alone. Surging Volt sales in August and September were met by rising Leaf sales as well. The Nissan Leaf, which had seen declining sales over the past few months staged a comeback in September and saw 984 vehicles fly off lots for the month. Nissan had said the Leaf would stage a comeback and made good with a 43% increase over the previous month. In all, a total of 5,212 Leafs have sold so far this year in the US. In addition, a longer-range, lower priced version of the Leaf is about to release. These new advances should make the race between EVs ever more interesting.

Though figures for Toyota’s plug-in Prius haven’t yet posted for September, they should be in the range of 800-1200 based on initial estimates. Toyota’s plug in, though boasting less all electric range than the Volt, is seen as a somewhat affordable competitor. But it appears that Chevy’s own discounts and affordable leasing options on the Volt have made it more appealing to the slightly less electric Prius. Toyota, however, is a powerful brand and shouldn’t be counted out in this competition.

Additional electric vehicle sales came from Tesla, Fisker, Mitsubishi and Ford. Given the increasing interest and expanding market for US electric vehicles, it appears that the domestic market is on its way to breaking 50,000 total EVs and PHEVs sold by the end of 2012. Overall, a substantial leap forward for an appealing and highly beneficial new technology.

Links:

http://insideevs.com/september-2012-plug-in-electric-vehicle-sales-report-card/

http://media.gm.com/content/dam/Media/gmcom/investor/2012/1002SalesRelease.pdf

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