EV Sales: 2014 and 2015

Why Did U.S. EV Sales Decline in 2015 Versus 2014?

2015 was a disappointing, but not unexpectedly so, year for sales of electric vehicles.

In the U.S., according to InsideEVs, electric vehicle (EV) sales actually declined 5.3% to 116,548 compared to 123,409 in 2014. Worldwide, however, EV sales increased 39.6% to 447,617 from 320,713 in 2014. EV Sales: 2014 and 2015

Why the drop off in the United States?

With global sales increasing nearly 40%, why did EV sales in the United States take a backward step in 2015? I think there were 5 primary reasons:

1. No new mainstream models. Unlike 2014, which saw the introduction of the BMW i3 (11,024 units sold in 2015), 2015 didn’t see any major new entrants into the EV market. The Tesla Model X (expensive and not mainstream) didn’t launch until December.

2. Leaf and Volt getting a bit stale. Ranked at #2 and #3 in EV sales for 2015, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt both declined in sales versus 2014. Each are a few years old now and are not generating any excitement among consumers. The updated 2016 Chevy Volt, a very nice refresh that is getting very positive reviews, didn’t hit dealers until the end of the year and so didn’t have an impact on sales.

3. Decline in gas prices. According to GasBuddy, the average price of gasoline in the U.S. for 2015 was $2.40. This compares to a national average in 2014 of $3.34 according to AAA. With gas prices going down instead of up, there was little incentive for U.S. consumers to trade in their gas guzzler for a plug-in car.

The gas-price decline likely had the biggest negative impact on sales of Ford’s Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi PHEVs and the Toyota Prius PHV. When comparing the extra cost of these 3 plug-in hybrids, many would-be purchasers probably opted for the regular hybrid versions instead.

4. Dwindling supply of early adopters.The decline in sales of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are a clear sign that the first wave of early adopter buyers of EVs has peaked. The Nissan Leaf is a highly praised car, but one that many consumers find unattractive and not practical with a range of around 100 miles.

Chevy Volt, the highly regarded PHEV (plug-in hybrid), likely can attribute a decline in sales to the fact that Chevrolet was launching an entirely new version at the end of 2015. When combined with declining gas prices, no new models to get people excited – the second wave of early adopters simply never materialized.

5. Buyers are waiting for the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. Many interested EV buyers sat out 2015 as they await the next generation of 200-mile range “affordable” EVs. The 200-mile range, $35,000 Chevy Bolt may launch at the end of 2016 or early 2017. The much-hyped Tesla Model 3, also with an expected range of 200 miles and base pricing in the $35,000 to $40,000 range, could go into production sometime in 2017, but more likely 2018.

While these cars will be more expensive than alternatives like the Leaf, Volt, Fiat 500e and in the same ballpark as the BMW i3, the expected range of around 200 miles will be key to attracting a new, and larger class of EV buyers.

What Will Happen in 2016 and 2017?

With gas prices expected to remain low this year and no new mainstream EVs being introduced  (the Chevy Bolt will reach production at the end of 2016 at the earliest), 2016 will likely be another disappointing year for EV sales in the U.S. I expect global sales, however to see another strong year of growth of at least 25%.

2017 should see a return to solid growth in the U.S. with an updated Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Bolt reaching dealers and the possible launch of Tesla’s Model 3. Hopefully, we will see some other new models or updates from the likes of Ford, BMW, Audi, Mercedes and others. But beyond the supply of new models, the impact of gas prices is a huge wildcard.

In future posts, I’ll go out on a limb with my predictions for when sales of EVs in the U.S. will finally start to take off.

Tesla Selects Nevada for Gigafactory Battery Plant – But Can They Deliver?

The worst-kept secret in years … Tesla selects a Nevada site near Reno to build their battery factory.

The key questions that the battery and car analysts are raising among all of the excitement, include:

1. Will the factory get the cost of the car batteries low enough so that Tesla can actually price its Model III near the $40,000 range that is being promised. Many analysts are saying no.

Rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory to be built near Reno, Nevada
Rendering of the Tesla Gigafactory to be built near Reno, Nevada

2. Will the plant be built and operating by 2017 and in time to launch the Model III that year?

3. And finally, Tesla is saying by 2020, the factory will be able to produce enough batteries for production of 500,000 Teslas. To achieve this goal, and assuming the company means EVs with their branding, as opposed to also including platforms made for other brands, in 2020 they would likely have to sell:

– 300,000 Model III
– 100,000 Model X
– 100,000 Model S

While not impossible, especially with the growth opportunity in China, by comparison BMW sold 294,000 3 Series sedans in all of 2012. So the Model III, which Elon Musk has said is targeting the 3 Series and Audi A4, would have to match that volume.

What do you think, can they reach this level of sales in roughly 6 more years?

A Toothpick – Your Ticket to Uncovering Water Leaks

A toothpick? Yes, a simple toothpick placed on your water meter can help you determine if you may have a leaky toilet inside or broken irrigation pipe somewhere in your yard.

With California experiencing its worst drought in more than 100 years, many residents are looking for ways to cut back on water usage. These include installing low-flow shower heads, cutting back on the length of showers or watering lawns less often or even replace them.

But perhaps one of the simplest and most important water-saving steps you can take is simply to find out if you have leaks inside or outside of your home. For many Californians, finding and fixing leaks is probably the easiest way to achieve the state’s 20% voluntary reduction in water usage.

So back to the toothpick. According to EBMUD, make sure all indoor and outside faucets are shut off tightly and no one is using water. Mark the needle(s) on your water meter by laying a straight pin or toothpick exactly on top. Do not use any water for half an hour. If the needle(s) moved, you probably have a leak.

EBMUD Water Meter
Place a toothpick so that it is aligned with the needle on your water meter. Source: EBMUD

This Web page from the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has a simple explanation of the toothpick test, but customers can also request a water saving kit that includes more detailed instructions. Check with your water utility to see if they offer a similar kit and tips.

Understanding Elon Musk and Tesla

I’m a HUGE Tesla fan and Elon Musk fan boy. Tesla is simply one of the most important companies of our lifetime. The Model S is an amazing and important car, but when Tesla launches the Model III in about 2017 – it will probably be looked at as the most pivotal vehicle in the last 100 years.

Elon Musk’s vision is not really about building a great car company, but rather being the company that is a change agent and is a key catalyst for getting consumers and the other auto companies to embrace electric vehicles. Along the way, Tesla is becoming a great auto company that is building not just good EVs, but some of the best cars ever, period.

Tesla Motors logo
Tesla Motors logo: Source Tesla Google+ page

And the company is changing aspects of how cars are manufactured, sold and serviced. And then think about their Supercharger charging stations, the Gigafactory battery plant that is coming in a few years and the amount of robots used to build their cars – right here in America, in the high-cost-of-living Bay Area.

A lot of people simply don’t understand Elon and Tesla. They are focused on whether Tesla ismaking a profit? On how many cars they sold in the most recent quarter? This type of myopic thinking simply reveals that a lot of people still simply don’t comprehend what Elon and Tesla are undertaking. Tesla is a bit like Amazon in that Amazon is still losing money, but they are becoming world dominating – that is their larger goal. Making a profit can come later.

Tesla is also not looking to become a dominant auto company or even necessarily the largest manufacturer of EVs long term. The ultimate measure of Tesla’s success will be how much of a force their success was as a catalyst in the transition of GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes and Toyota, etc away from ICE-powered cars to electric?

I’m betting that Tesla and Elon will achieve their vision and goal – but unfortunately not for many, many years. The first major inflection point for EVs will not come until after the Model III is launched and EV sales likely won’t explode until around 2025.

Tesla Concord Site For Gigafactory – Transport Batteries by BART to Fremont Factory

So hey Tesla Motors – here is an interesting thought. The Concord Naval Weapons site is extremely close to the West Concord/Martinez BART station. The Warm Springs BART station, expected to open in late 2015, is about 1.5 miles from the Fremont Tesla factory.

So … if Tesla built the (or one of) Gigfactory(ies) at the Concord Naval Weapons site, you could lease the tracks from BART in the middle of the night, run special freight cars, and transfer the batteries from the Gigafactory almost entirely on BART trains (electric power) from the Concord plant to the Fremont factory.

Not only would this of course cut down carbon emissions, it would reduce transport times, make future Tesla’s even “greener” and the batteries could be stored at the battery plant and delivered just-in-time for assembly, reducing storage and capital costs.

And, as part of the deal to lease the tracks from BART, Tesla could offer to build Super Charger stations bundled with Solar City parking structures that generate power for the chargers, clean power for the stations and the trains; complete with Tesla battery back-up electricity storage.

What do you think Tesla Motors?

What’s The Difference Between a PHEV, HEV, BEV and EREV?

Have you been drooling over the Tesla Model S but perhaps have set your EV (electric vehicle) sights a little lower?

Maybe you’ve been thinking about a Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf. But while both of those cars are electric vehicles, each are actually a different type of EV – each with different advantages and disadvantages.

If you are considering the purchase of an electric vehicle in the near future – but are confused by the choices and different types available on the market, below and here in the Loren-Green EV pages is a quick guide to the different acronyms and types of electric vehicles:

EV – Electric Vehicle: The acronym “EV” tends to be used both as an all-encompassing term for any vehicle powered partially or a vehicle powered entirely by a battery. This would include hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully-electric vehicles.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle: “PHEVs” are hybrids, often with longer-range battery capacity than non-plug-in hybrids, whose batteries can be charged by plugging them into an electrical outlet or charging station. Electric power-only range varies from the teens (Honda Accord PHEV – 13 miles; Toyota Prius PHEV – 15 miles) to the low-20 mile range (Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi – 21 miles).

  • Examples include the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi models and more.
  • Here is a nifty tool that will calculate your annual estimated cost for gas and electricity for every major PHEV on the market. It also has a nice little touch that will estimate how many times you will need to go to a gas station.

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle: “BEVs” are electric vehicles that operate on 100% battery power. They are also often referred to as “all electric vehicles” to differentiate them from PHEVs. Examples include the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Smart EV, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, BMW i3 and more.

HEV- Hybrid Electric Vehicle: Examples include the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Lexus RX-400h Hybrid, Lexus CT-200 Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and more. Here is a complete list of currently available hybrids.

EREV – Extended Range Electric Vehicle: With extended-range plug-in hybrids, the electric motor always powers the drivetrain/wheels. However, when the battery reaches a certain level of charge, the gas motor kicks in to charge the battery – providing the “extended range.” Examples include the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 with Range Extender.

Still confused or have questions on the different typos of EVs? Check out my EV definitions page and links to additional resources, or ask me a question in the comments box.

Recycle Your Old Refrigerator – Save Money

Get rid of that old refrigerator you moved to the garage to store beverages and things. Older fridges can be huge electricity users – and when put in garages that often get very warm, they have to work even harder to keep things cool – so you have a double wammy.

I bought a Belkin F7C005 Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor
and plugged in my old fridge and discovered it was costing me about $200-$250 a year to run the thing. I got rid of the fridge and now am saving money and don’t miss it …

Also, here is an article with a link to a calculator if you don’t want to spring for an energy meter.

What Being “Green” Really Means

Welcome to Loren-Green!

Why “Loren-Green” you might ask? Well because those two words fundamentally describe who I am and my current passion in life. I’m Loren McDonald and most all things “green” – as in sustainability – are what I care deeply about in addition to my family, friends and work life.

If you are of a certain age, saying “Loren Green” might conjure up a certain actor with the name that sounds the same. But that is coincidence, this site is about the importance of taking care of our planet – but trying to be realistic about it at the same time.

Unfortunately in America and many parts of the world saying you are “green” immediately labels you as a “Prius-driving, tree-hugging, liberal whacko.” But to me, being green and taking care of this planet is the responsibility of every citizen. It is about understanding our legacy as humans who are just borrowing this planet we call Earth, for the few tiny years we reside here. It is about leaving Mother Nature in as good a shape – or hopefully even better – for our children and grandchildren – as we inherited from our parents.

There is no political affiliation for being green. Being green doesn’t mean you wear Birkenstocks, drive a converted VW Beetle that runs on recycled cooking oil from local organic farm-to-kitchen restaurants.  It doesn’t mean that you are a vegan and only eat food grown within 100 miles of your home.

If you are the person above – that’s great. But that lifestyle won’t fly in Peoria as they say.

To me being green means you are “green aware.” You understand the impact of the choices you make and you give a reasonable and consistent effort to try and minimize any negative impact you have on the planet and those around you.

This means that you buy and use biodegradable dog poopy bags instead of using the single-use plastic bags from the local supermarket. It means that if you live in many parts of the Western United States you realize that we are in a serious drought phase and you are fixing broken sprinklers, reducing overwatering and replacing your shower head with a low-flow product.

It means that even if you aren’t sold on buying an EV at this point, that you eliminate unnecessary trips and are planning to buy a hybrid or higher-mileage diesel model for your next car. It means that you’ve investigated solar, and installed panels on your roof if it made sense for your specific situation. And speaking of plastic bags, it means that you carry at least a couple of reusable bags in your car at all times and are doing your best to remember to take them into the store with you. And when you forget or leave them at home, you ask for paper bags if an option, you avoid taking a plastic bag if you only have a few items, or if you have to use the store’s plastic bag you recycle it later at a nearby store that has a bag recycling bin.

It means that you don’t get caught up in arguing about whether global warming is real or not. But instead simply see the logic in moving away from fossil fuels that pollute the air and waters, cause cancer, destroy environments due to oil spills, contribute to Middle East conflicts and have a limited supply. And you realize that by putting solar panels on your roof, you save a LOT of money on your electricity costs – and reduce your utilities’ need to generate electricity from fossil fuels.

It is the last point that I plan to focus a lot of the content, tips and resources on Loren-Green.com. The concept I refer to as “green squared.” That one of the main reasons to adopt green practices in your life is that many simply save you money – AND have a positive impact on the planet at the same time.

At the end of the day, I don’t care what your motivation is to drive an EV, replace your water-sucking lawn with drought-tolerant grasses or put solar panels on your roof. I just hope you find your reason – and do it.

I look forward to your feedback and ideas.

Go Green, Save Green.

Loren McDonald