The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Administration of the US Department of Energy recently released a note highlighting that there were about 50 light duty electric vehicle models introduced to the US market in 2020. It included a chart showing progress from year to year (see above). I dug into the updated 2021 data source and counted 50 plug-in models and 20 all-electric vehicle models.
The progress is definitely positive and I enjoy writing about (and managing) new members as they come in. There are some really interesting electric vehicles on the market right now that any sane person should love. However, the first thing that came to mind when watching this update was, “But how much sales will these models get?”
Unfortunately, Tesla still dominates the US market – it really does dominate it. I am a Tesla owner, Tesla shareholder and Tesla fanatic, but above all Tesla is the need to electrify vehicles as quickly as possible. Tesla’s dominance of the market is “unfortunate” simply because it means there are no other large electric vehicles on the market. It’s nice to see Tesla get so much sales from just two models, but it’s downright depressing to see 16 other electric models fail to add up their sales to those of these two.
There are several barriers to selling other models. Some are simply not competitive when it comes to assortment, specifications, technology and price. (Some Tesla fans and owners – or even many Tesla fans and owners – will say that none of the other EVs can compete with Tesla on these issues, leading to dominant Tesla sales.) Many are sold in only a few markets. Car dealerships are not very keen to sell electric vehicles, and many do not even try to do so. Even car dealers who sell electric vehicles often don’t know how to do this and are not interested in training. Many car buyers interested in electric vehicles are interested or ready for change and find themselves drawn to Tesla’s revolutionary culture and technology. More traditional car buyers, who are less open to change, do not turn to their preferred brand for something completely new and exciting – they are more comfortable with combining the old and the slightly new.
Plus, to be fair, if an automaker has a certain limited production capacity for a fairly low model, no amount of specs and no amount of sales will result in high-volume EVs. How limited production capacity affects sales of some models is unknown. The Chevy Bolt EV has reportedly received significant discounts recently, which means that demand was not very high and people needed to be strongly encouraged to buy it. The Ford Mustang Mach-E reportedly flew out of the gate into high demand and quickly led dealers to put huge crossover / SUV price tags on their lots. Will this demand continue or grow, and will Ford ramp up production capacity if it does? Was it just a spike in demand that will subside? I personally believe the Mustang Mach-E could sell very well – far more than 100,000 vehicles a year – if Ford and its dealers tried to get rid of this beast. However, I have heard that the production capacity is much lower, so even if there is demand, it is difficult to dream of a Mustang Mach-E at this stage. (Note: I did see one on the road today, which was very interesting. But I also saw one Audi e-tron, one old Nissan LEAF, a Chevy Bolt, and maybe a couple dozen Tesla. I would like to see a couple dozen Mustang Mach- Es, a couple dozen e-trons and a couple dozen LEAFs & Bolts a day, but hoping for that is unrealistic right now.)
In light of all the people who seem to be making a living or spending their free time hating Tesla and knowing that many of them are also worried about the climate catastrophe we are brewing, I am often perplexed that they think this is their life mission. attack Tesla and its eccentric and highly efficient CEO, and even go so far as to set a goal CleanTechnicareturned to set a record in many myths and misunderstandings about Tesla. We need more electric vehicles on the roads – stat… Even with Tesla’s colossal growth and market capitalization absolutely surpassing that of other automakers, we have no other large-scale electric vehicle in the US market. While Tesla brings water to everyone, it might be worth acknowledging its leadership and why it is. It may also be more appropriate to push the massive systemic changes in traditional automakers that are needed to move safely away from fossil fuels. What do we need for Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Nissan, Toyota and Honda to sell millions of all-electric vehicles a year? Tesla smear campaigns? I think no.
In conclusion, I’m going to highlight a few electrical patterns that I think are compelling enough to point out (below). What do you think these models need to achieve high US sales? Do they have the specs and price needed to view wholesales? How do buyers coming to a Ford Escape, Ford Mustang, Volkswagen Tiguan, Chevy Trax or Audi Q6 / Q7 / Q8 tend to buy one of these models? Or are they just not ready for prime time?
- Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Volkswagen ID.4
- Chevy Bolt EV / EUV
- Audi e-tron
Before anyone says that these other models cannot be sold in large volumes, I urge all of us to remember what happened in Europe in one year. Yes, Europe has some advantages, but sales have skyrocketed, indicating that consumers will buy EVs in large volumes. As Max Holland reported today, 22.2% of new car sales in Sweden last month were from pure electric cars – Sweden!
This is the off-peak month for Tesla. It’s a fairly common cold climate where people have historically bought far more plug-in hybrids than all-electric ones. But the wind changed. Last month, the best-selling car in Sweden – of all powertrains – was the Volkswagen ID.4, which is now also on the US market. How does the United States begin to approach the European level before another president comes to power?