Americans are buying Tesla, not electric cars. That’s why this is about to change

The logo marks the showroom and service center of the American automobile and energy company Tesla in Amsterdam on October 23, 2019.

John Tees | AFP | Getty Images

Americans don’t buy electric cars, they buy Tesla.

This has been a relatively true statement for US consumers in recent years: Tesla accounts for the majority of electric vehicles sold, including 79% in 2020, according to IHS Markit. But that is starting to change as so-called traditional automakers and startups invest billions in a slew of new electric vehicles to compete with Tesla.

The influx of electric vehicles – from a couple of dozen today to hundreds of new models by 2025 – is expected to shrink Tesla’s market share in the coming years. New EVs are being planned as larger automakers like General Motors and Volkswagen will shift to EV production almost exclusively within the next decade or so.

“It’s no surprise that Tesla continues to dominate EV sales because they are the only ones with really viable products in full swing,” said Michael Fisk, deputy director of IHS Markit. “In a growing market, it is extremely difficult to maintain a large market share, regardless of the industry … As we begin to move towards more and really significant number of manufacturers who will play in this space, Tesla must lose its share. “

Tesla’s all-electric vehicle market share is expected to fall to 56% this year in 2021 as new vehicles such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4 were introduced, IHS Markit reported.

The research and forecasting company expects Tesla’s share of the all-electric vehicle market in the United States to reach 20% in 2025, when LMC Automotive expects General Motors to surpass Tesla as the nation’s largest electric vehicle seller.

2021 and 2030

Tesla currently dominates a relatively small market. Despite the amount of attention and hype surrounding electric vehicles, sales of all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which include electric motors as well as an internal combustion engine, remain marginal. Electric vehicle sales, including plug-in hybrids, will account for less than 4% of US sales this year, according to industry analysts. Of these, all-electric models such as Teslas account for only 2.6% of the market, or about 394,000 vehicles, according to LMC.

“As you move forward, it won’t take long for you to get quite a lot of volume and share growth,” said Jeff Schuster, President of LMC’s Americas. “This is a huge turning point and growth for the automotive industry.”

LMC expects electric vehicles to account for 34.2% of US new car sales by 2030, with all-electric vehicles accounting for 30.1% and plug-in hybrids 4.1%. According to AutoForecast Solutions’ most pessimistic estimates, electric vehicles will account for about 23% of the market by 2030, with 18.6% of US sales going to all-electric cars and trucks. IHS Markit expects electric vehicles to account for about 40% of the U.S. industry by 2030.

Biden’s goal is “highly optimistic”

“It’s very optimistic to reach 50% by then,” said JD Power’s managing director of automotive analytics and consulting, Tony Salerno, citing issues such as consumer education, charging infrastructure, and support for the US power grid. “I think it will eventually happen in terms of utility, but it’s still early days and there are a lot of details in the puzzle that we need to solve in order to get to it.”

When Biden announced the order earlier this year, which was described as more of a “friendly target,” the automakers were not entirely in agreement. Many, including Detroit’s automakers, have said they aim to “achieve 40-50 percent of annual US electric vehicle sales by 2030.”

“That will not happen. Mainly because this is an unexplored market. Nobody knows exactly how much is on it, ”said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions. “Nobody really knows how deep the market is right now. Taking Tesla out of sight, the EV market is less than 1%. ”

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