Tag Archives: Tax Credit

September 2017 Sales Update

It’s November 1 today and here I am posting a September sales update!

Well the reason is that I want to get the September sales baseline on the record before updating my numbers to reflect October sales (which are not finalized yet).

The purpose of these updates is to track progress towards, and my estimates of, when various manufacturers will cross the 200,000 US vehicle sold mark and start the clock ticking for the phaseout of the US $7500 federal tax credit for EVs.  The phaseout works like this:

Up until a manfuacturer sells its 200,000th car in the US, the buyer of that manufacturer’s car is eligible to receive a $7500 federal tax credit, subject to them having sufficient tax liability.  Once a manufacturer sells it’s 200,000th car, cars sold in that current calendar quarter and the following quarter are still eligible for the full tax credit.  For the following two quarters, the credit is cut in half to $3750, and for the two quarters following that, the credit is again cut in half to $1875.  After those two quarters are up, the tax credit for that manufacturer expires.  Note that each manufacturer has its own timetable unrelated to other manufacturers.  That means that Tesla may lose its credit while Chrysler may continue to get the full credit for several years!  (Note, I am strongly opposed to this structure as I think it motivates manufacturers to sit back and let others do the hard work and burn through their credits).

The following illustrates how this would work:

US Federal Tax Credit Illustration. Example only, not real data.

Under the system, it would be most advantageous to the consumer if the manufacturer sold car #200,000 on the first day of a new quarter.  This would give the manufacturer practically two full quarters of the full tax credit before it starts to phase out (green shading).  If, on the other hand, car #200,000 was sold on the last day of the quarter, the full tax credit would only be available for another 3 months, vs. 6 months if they had waited one extra day.

So, as the third quarter ends, two manufacturers in particular are getting close to hitting car #200,000:  Tesla and GM.  So all eyes are on these two manufacturers and their US sales figures to determine exact when the phaseout clock starts ticking.  Particularly in the case of Tesla, which looks like it will cross that line first.  There are a few people that say that it will cross the line in December 2017 (unlikely if only for the reason that they will likely wait until the beginning of a new quarter before crossing that mark), and I would say that the consensus opinion is that they will cross the line in 1Q18.  A minority (including myself) think it will be 2Q18, meaning the full tax credit should be available until the end of September 2018, and not phase out completely until September 30, 2019.

Now I get most of my data from InsideEVs Monthly Plug-in Sales Scorecard.  It’s not the authoritative source of information, but the official source of information, the IRS IRC 30D – Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit Quarterly Sales page, which incidentally is periodically updated, strangely includes only data for Ford, BMW and Mercedes, so we really don’t know about all the other manufacturers.  But InsideEVs tracks these numbers very closely based on actual sales reports from the manufacturers, so they are reasonably trustworthy.  Now I will point out that while InsideEVs and I update our numbers monthly as automakers release their monthly sales figures, Tesla only reports sales quarterly, so for the non-quarter-ending months, it’s a little bit of a guessing game, but InsideEVs does have a good track record and does go back and adjust the numbers to fit the reported data at the end of the quarter.

So without further ado, I present my figures as of September 2017:

US EV Sales summary as of Sep ’17

This shows that through the end of 2016, Tesla had sold 111,949 vehicles in the US.  Through September, they had sold 35,140, bringing the total sold to date (not shown) to 147.089.  I am projecting that by year-end 2017, they will have sold 62,717, bringing their total by year-end 2017 to 174,666, well short of 200,000.  And even though Elon Musk has “promised” us 5,000 Model 3’s per week by the end of December, that still puts us well into 1Q18 before they hit #200,000, which is why I think they will delay selling #200,000 until April 2018.  After all, Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla would do the right thing to maximize the number of people that got the credit, even if it meant taking a hit on quarterly sales.  This means to me that Tesla would divert Model S and X sales outside the US, and stockpile Model 3’s until the beginning of the new quarter.  Not only would this allow them to immediately sell a larger number of Model 3’s at the full credit amount, but it would extend the full tax credit to the timeframe when the dual-motor version of the Model 3 will be available (which will make a LOT of Model 3 reservation holders very happy).  It will also shorten the time period that the Model 3’s nearest competitor (the Chevy BoltEV) would have a tax credit advantage over the Model 3 to one quarter (possibly even zero).  And since those who hold Model 3 reservations are already given a three month delivery window, they could easily shift deliveries up to nearly a quarter without anyone being the wiser.

I will get into more stats and details in coming months, but as one closing comment for this post, let me describe my assumptions for Tesla and GM sales going forward.

For Tesla, I am assuming Model S growth of 15%, or between 2500 and 2600 sales per month (this tracks a 15.83% actual growth rate), and also 15% growth for Model X (although its growth rate has been larger), assuming between 1950 and 2000 sales per month.  For Model 3, it’s a bit trickier.  Elon Musk said 30 in July, 100 in August, 1500 in September, and climbing to 5000 a week by the end of December.  By now we know that they missed the mark by quite a bit in September, and we’re not really sure when they will recover, or even if it’s just a delay in the ramp up, or something they will make back up.  What we do know is that the numbers were more like 75 in August and only 115 in September.  I have revised my estimates for October-December to be 2000 in October, 4000 in November, and 8000 in December, but I feel those are very optimistic best-case scenario type numbers.  But for purposes of this kind of analysis, we do want to think conservatively (in hindsight, I DEFINITELY know those are optimistic)!

For GM I am assuming moderate 6% growth for the Volt (3% actual) and a flat 2500 units per month for the BoltEV.

That’s it for the time being.  I’ll be back shortly with the update for October!