Electric Vehicles By The Numbers; Past, Present and Future.
By Mark Hart
In 2021, roughly 4.6% of new light passenger vehicle sales in the US were electric vehicles (EVs), including both full battery electric (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs). While less than 5 out of 100 new vehicles purchased being electric may not sound impressive, this EV sales share is nearly double the 2.4 percent from 2020 — and up from 0% in 2010. So, where do EVs sit in the market today, how far have we come, and what does the future look like for EVs in the US? In this first article of an ongoing series about EVs and, more specifically, the role of EV charging, I’ll dive into “EVs by the numbers” to set the foundation for future articles.
2010 To 2021: Slow and Steady Growth
Electric vehicles were the more popular powertrain for cars back in the late 1800s and early 1900s until gas-powered vehicles dominated the market in the 1920s. Electric vehicles then disappeared until a few models were introduced as trial balloons and experiments in the 1980s, 1990s, and early parts of this century. But it wasn’t until the Tesla Roadster in 2008 and then the introduction of the Chevrolet Volt PHEV and Nissan LEAF BEV in late 2010 that launched the modern and current era of electric vehicles in the US.
In the first full year of availability for the Volt and LEAF in the US, sales reached just over 16,000 units and it wasn’t until 2014 when EV sales first broke the century marker with nearly 117,000 in sales. While sales then grew gradually with the introduction of new EV models, it wasn’t until 2018 and the first full year of production for the Tesla Model 3 that sales took a massive jump of 75% over 2017. Despite more new EV models, sales remained flat until the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 took off in 2021, with the two models combining for roughly 50% of US EV (both BEV and PHEV) sales.
2022: EV Sales To Double Again — Supply Chain Issues Withstanding
With EV sales doubling in 2021 versus 2020, a key question is: Will the US see this level of growth again in 2022? Even though 2022 started from a significantly larger base than 2021, several factors should continue this sales trend. A major driving force is the introduction of several new EVs, including the Hyundai IONIQ 5, Kia EV6, and Ford F-150 Lightning, along with several automakers scaling up production of existing EVs such as the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, Ford Mustang Mach E, and Volkswagen ID.4 among others.
The Lightning, the fully-electric version of the F-150 pickup — the number-one-selling vehicle in the US for 40 straight years — portends to be a game-changer for EVs in America. The Lightning signals to mainstream, truck-loving Americans that EVs are not just souped-up electric golf carts but serious vehicles that can be used for work, off-roading, and power electric tools and even back up your home when grid power goes out.
Additionally, high gas prices, a general growing awareness of the advantages of electric vehicles, and the buildout of EV charging infrastructure are increasing consumer consideration of electric models over gas-powered vehicles. But the continuing and looming challenges on the supply chain, with everything from wiring harnesses to computer chips and battery cells, could hamper the supply of EVs in 2022 and into 2023.
Long-Term Outlook (2030) For EVs in the US
Now that we are up to date on the history and current state of EVs in the US, what does the long-term forecast look like? Will EVs dominate the vehicle landscape by the end of this decade? In short, EVs will not dominate our roads in the US by 2030, but they will see dramatic growth in sales and market share and go mainstream.
In a forecast by EVAdoption, EV sales would reach about 7.7 million in 2030, or about 44% of an estimated 17.5 million vehicles sold that year. And of those EV sales, about 90% are expected to be fully electric BEVs, with PHEVs accounting for about 10% of sales. With this level of sales growth, EVs would grow to about 11% of vehicles on the road in the US from less than 1% in 2021. And while there are dozens of factors that currently and will in the coming years affect this rate of EV adoption — including cost, range, and charging infrastructure — one of the biggest keys is simply the availability of EV models.
Including BEVs and PHEVs, an estimated more than 220 models will be available in the US in 2030, up from 87 at the end of 2022. More EV models are vital to EV sales as it ensures increased competition and greater consumer choices, with EVs becoming available across all segments and price points.
The battery range of BEVs also remains a crucial hurdle to EV adoption, with multiple consumer surveys, including the one below from Consumer Reports pointing to roughly 50% of potential buyers wanting 300 or miles of range before considering a BEV. In 2022, most of the BEVs coming to market will have a range of 250 or more miles, with many near or above 300 miles. And while I don’t expect the average BEV range to triple in the next ten years, you can see in the image below that the range of the Nissan LEAF tripled in 10 years and the Lucid Air now tops a whopping 500 miles of range (though at $169,000).
But the good news is that as batteries become more efficient with improvements in cell design and materials, we should see consistent annual increases in average range. Analysis by EVAdoption of planned and expected BEVs coming to market sees the average range reaching 310 miles in 2025 and 360 miles in 2030, partially also due to the expectation that solid-state batteries will be commonplace by then.
While EV sales share in the US has lagged behind China and Europe for several years, multiple trends point to EVs becoming mainstream in America later this decade. In the following article, I’ll look at how the expected huge uptick in EV sales growth will impact demand for EV chargers and lead to one of the most significant infrastructure business opportunities in the last 100 years.
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