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US EV sales jump 72.5% on year in 2018, top 354,000

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US EV sales jump 72.5% on year in 2018, top 354,000

Houston — With more than 35,000 electric vehicle sales and registrations reported thus far for the month of December, 2018 is looking to be a significant break-out year as an industry publication has reported total plug-in EV sales of more than 354,000 vehicles, or 72.5% more than the 199,000 EVs sold in the US in 2017.

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Sales of Tesla's three battery-powered models were reported January 3 by InsideEVs to have totaled just over 191,000 vehicles in 2018, compared with just over 50,000 in 2017.

Tesla sold 139,782 Model 3s in 2018, compared with 1,764 in 2017, making the Model 3 the top selling EV in the US by a considerable margin.

In terms of 2018 sales, ranked third and fourth, according to InsideEVs' data, were Tesla's battery powered Model X, with 26,100 units sold, and its Model S, with 25,745 units sold in 2018.

On Wednesday, Tesla announced that it would cut by $2,000 the base price of its Model 3, to roughly $44,000. The cut is, in part, to make up for the phasing out of the $7,500 federal tax credit, which is due to drop to $3,500 later this year, and to zero in 2020.

Tesla reported its first profit in the third quarter of 2018 following seven consecutive losses.

Auto industry analysts now argue that Tesla, along with other EV makers, could be facing a flattening of sales in 2019 due to a possible economic slowdown.

GM TO STICK WITH THE BOLT

Ranked second in terms of sales in 2018 was Toyota's hybrid vehicle Prius Prime, which saw sales in the US total 27,595 vehicles, according to the data.

Honda, with its Clarity plug-in hybrid introduced in mid-2017, sold 18,211 units in 2018, just below sales of GM's hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt, which saw 18,306 units purchased in 2018.

In November, however, GM announced it would close down the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly facility in Detroit where the Volt has been built since late 2010. GM has said that production of the Volt will be discontinued March 1, 2019.

GM, which will also discontinue manufacturing the Buick LaCrosse, the Chevy Impala, Cruz and two Cadillac models, will continue, however, manufacturing its pure battery-powered vehicle, the Bolt.

In 2018, GM sold 18,019 Bolts, according to the data, giving it a sales ranking of 7th in the US. In 2017, the Bolt was the second most popular EV, behind just the Tesla Model S, with sales of 23,297 units.

1 MILLION EVs ON US ROADS

In a November 30 report, the Edison Electric Institute and the Institute for Electric Innovation said: "The transition to electric vehicles is well underway with more than 1 million EVs on US roads as of October 2018."

The report's authors said automakers were responding to customer demand and developing more EV models, both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), that are "increasingly cost-competitive with internal combustion engines."

It noted that customers are purchasing EVs in record numbers, and electricity companies are working with stakeholders to move the EV infrastructure system forward.

EEI projects the number of EVs on the road in 2030 will reach 18.7 million. "This is about 7% of the 259 million vehicles - cars and light trucks - expected to be on US roads in 2030," the report said.

Annual US sales of EVs are forecast to exceed 3.5 million vehicles in 2030, more than 20% of the expected vehicle sales in 2030, EEI and IEI said.

The report said about 9.6 million charge ports will be required to support 18.7 million EVs in 2030.

According to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics, the annual power demand from passenger and light-duty vehicles is expected to rise to 64.43 TWh in 2030 from 5.32 TWh in 2018.

This level of increase in power demand will prove important to US utilities who are concerned with flattening demand for their power.

"Utilities are making big pushes to install chargers for EVs," Zane McDonald, Platts Analytics' senior transportation technology analyst, said Thursday. "They are installing the wires to stimulate this extra demand." WORLDWIDE EV SALES RISE 39.8% ON YEAR

According to the InsideEVs data released Thursday, 2018 worldwide sales of plug-in EV sales totaled 1.7 million units.

This was a 39.8% jump from worldwide sales in 2017 of 1.2 million units.

-- Jeffrey Ryser, jeffrey.ryser@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com