Braskem joins Amyris and Michelin to accelerate the industrialization and commercialization of renewable isoprene
Ohio State researchers use neutron depth profiling to track flow of Li atoms into and out of anode in real time

California passes 100K plug-in car sales; 40% of US plug-ins

Californians have purchased more than 100,000 plug-in cars (PEVs) since the market started in 2010, according to figures gathered by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative.

Californians buy approximately 40% of all the PEVs sold in the US. According to data collected by the California Air Resources Board and new sales figures released this week from and Baum & Associates, a Michigan-based market research firm, Californians bought 102,440 PEVs from December 2010 through August 2014.

This milestone shows that industry and government can work together for the good of the environment and the good of the consumer. Automakers are proving on a daily basis that they can rise to the challenge to meet California’s clean vehicle standards, advance the technology, and provide a wide range of affordable cars that are good to look at, fun to drive, and, of course, have zero emissions.

—California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols



That's roughly 300 megawatts of potential dispatchable load.


What’s most interesting about this news is the underlying growth story, which, when you go through info available at linked sites, is not quite what we’ve come to believe. We regularly like to share the gospel that plug-in sales in the US are “increasing exponentially”. When you look at the data from (the source of’s infographic), that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Here is the info 2011 through current.

2011: 18,300 (I added an estimated ~500 Roadsters to; they did not include it in their total). During CY 2011 there were 6 models available to limited US markets, with the FFE starting sales only very late.

2012: 55,420 (I added 250 Model S to correct for actual 10K data which was not released until March) During CY2012 there were 11 models available in most major US markets, with the Tesla Model S beginning production deliveries in late Q3.

2013: 96,602 (I cross-checked their estimates for Model S by looking at 10K geographical sales values and subtracting Daimler development revenue; my number was negligibly different.) During CY2013 there were 16 models available, with four introduced after the second half of the year. Roughly a third of models had limited geographic availability, but these were mostly newer.

2014 YTD: 78,609 (again, Tesla takes some guesswork; 10,600 seems a bit high, but their track record has been good.) Through today there have been 19 models available, with limited availability for 6-7 of these (some of which are new). At this run rate, we will finish the year at about 118,000. The Model S is the big question mark, but if they make 35,000, with 40% to the US, and 118,000 holds. Add another 3000-5000 to account for the surge in i3. The total comes to 122,000.

The result is sales growth annually of
’11-’12: 37,210
’12-’13: 41,182
’13-‘14e: 25,398

That isn’t exponential. It’s actually pretty weak, especially when we consider
(1) how many new choices are available
(2) continued expansion of market geography
(3) growing state/local incentives
(4) growth in home solar installations, which are ostensibly beneficial to plug in owners.

Please do offer counterarguments. Other than conspiracy theories, I’m eager to hear how this gets back on track.


Exponential in this case is only used because it sounds good to those who have not got a clue what it means.
Its linear, of course.


Prius sales were only 17,700 in its first full year of production (1998), and sales bumped along up and down (not even linear upward growth) for about 5 years. But then the 2nd generation model came in 2003 and they haven't looked back, now selling >450,000 units per year.

I suppose this means that early sales of first generation vehicles to early adopters aren't a great indicator of when things will really take off with the masses. Maybe the Model E, or the 200 mile GM, will really change things.

Good numbers and analysis Herman. There are a few things that make this market different from most.

1. Most OEMs do not advertise or promote their EVs. They don't really want to sell them, they are only producing enough to comply with ZEV mandates, and any limited marketing they do is only enough to make sure that the ~2k they produce actually move off lots.

2. The cars are, with a few exceptions, only sold in ZEV states. That hobbles sales further.

3. ZEV mandates start ratcheting up dramatically in 2018, so we'll see the OEMs start to produce and market more heavily in 2017.

4. That's the same year that Tesla will start selling the $35k 200 mile Model 3 so there will be another incentive to have a meaningful response from the OEMs because ordinary (non-wealthy) people will start to pay attention when the Model 3 becomes a phenomenon and the majority of people finally "get" $1gge implications on their personal finance (ie free car - lease payment covered by fuel cost savings).

I believe Clett identified the phenomenon perfectly. There's a gestation period, then things get exciting really fast. You peer at the the Petri fish for days and it looks like nothing's happening. Then you come back after getting bored and there's a massive colony.

I spend a lot of time in the field giving drives and talking to people. Hundred of people one month per quarter (nearly a thousand).

I've never seen or heard more excitement for any other car. A whole lot of people will be getting rid of their ICE or Gen 1 EV in 2017 & 2018 and driving a Tesla.

It will be more of a phenomenon even than the meteoric rise of Honda or Toyota.
It calls to mind the phrase "this time it's personal".

People are pissed off, and they're worried. For good reason. Now they can vote with their wallets and that fact is not lost on people who are paying attention. And every freak storm and drought only create greater resolve. This isn't speculation on my part, this is what I'm hearing in the field. Yes, it's a self selected crowd. But it's big, and it's growing.


Clett and have the best argument.

HEVs and PHEVs are interim technologies. They will probably peak at 1,000,000+ units/year by 2020 or so.

Affordable EVs (all sizes and shape) will probably take off by 2020 or so; when they will start to progressively replace HEVs, PHEVs and ICEVs.

(The role of FCEVs is still unclear)

Mega-battery factories in USA, China, Japan, South-Korea, India, and EU will produce improved much lower cost units by 2018 onward. Lower cost improved batteries is required to boost affordable EV sales.

Roger Pham

If BEV, PHEV, and FCEV will do such a good job at conserving petrol, not as many GigaBattery Factory will be built, and you won't see as many BEV's as you would like to see.

As you can see, building such a factory representing huge investment cost and risk that they won't be over built. BEV will likely remain a niche market for enthusiasts due to the huge resource consumption.

For example, with Tesla's battery capable of 5000 cycles to reach 80% of capacity, it will last for 13 years if charged daily. If you only drive 60 miles a day, why do you want to have a battery pack capable of over 300-mile range? It is better off to have a PHEV-60 to best utilize the battery pack without waste, before calendar ageing.

In short, BEV's are resource hogs that can represent status symbols but not appropriate for the mass.
The role of FCEV is clear in countries that want to use renewable-energy fuel instead of petrol.


Whereas the RE-to-hydrogen pathway is so lossy that the FCEV represents a massive waste of all its upstream inputs.  It's pretty much take what you'd need to charge a BEV, triple it, and add a pile of plant and infrastructure for conversion, storage and distribution.

I'm amazed but no longer surprised at the people who think "renewables" (now being called "ruinables" in some circles) are the future.  The unreliable delivery of those energies is why humanity developed fossil fuels in the first place; lack of energy (heat) in northern winters is literally life-threatening!  Nuclear power is the ultimate renewable.  The world's oceans contain well over a billion tons of uranium, and rivers deliver another 32,000 tons every year.  Total human energy consumption is equivalent to fission of just 5000 tons.  Why anyone would insist on covering half the globe with solar collectors and species-desert biofuel plantations when we've got this just blows my mind.



Chernobyl! TMI! Fukushima!
(I just wanted to take care of all the putative counterarguments in advance.)


E-P, that's like saying we should only drink water when it rains! Storage is the solution, and once this and smart usage are implemented, renewables can be used for baseload (year round, on every continent).


People on sailboats typically don't use stored water for long voyages.  Most appear to use reverse osmosis "water makers".  They don't rely on rain at all; they generate fresh water when they need it.  The lesson is that living at the mercy of the weather is a recipe for trouble.

People who claim "storage is THE solution" don't have a solution to the low EROI of RE without storage, let alone with it.  The low EROI means that the build-out of variable RE is being subsidized by fossil fuels.  The end state of that path is collapse.  So far, none of the RE supply chains can afford to run themselves (including the required buffering) on their own produced energy.  That is not going to improve enough by 2050 to allow the electric grid to be decarbonized, and that's our deadline for the 2°C target (which is already looking too risky).

There's a lot of Green denial out there; I just saw Bob Wallace declare that nuclear power is not dispatchable (while France's Westinghouse-based PWRs have been load-following for decades, and BWRs were designed for it from the outset)!  Now that centrifuge enrichment is the rule, the EROI of nuclear is well over 100.  It's the one option we've got that successfully replaces fossil fuels, and anyone asserting otherwise needs to provide an existence proof or STFU.

The comments to this entry are closed.