We write many articles about Tesla for two core reasons: 1) it is pushing the transportation sector toward zero-emission transportation faster than any other company (and is perhaps the most important company in the world for decarbonizing the economy), and 2) it makes really amazing products.
Tesla is the first company to produce a truly mass market electric car. The biggest problem in this industry is that we need a lot more than one mass market electric car. Yes, Tesla has the Model Y and a cyberpunk pickup truck coming out soon, but that’s still only 3 presumably mass-market models. Last I checked, consumers like diversity and these 3 models can only accumulate a small portion of total consumer vehicle demand. So, the big question is: when are other companies going to start producing and selling their own mass-market electric vehicles?
We have some potential candidates coming up. However, even with these, there are a few key questions:
- Does the automaker have supplies lined up to mass produce the vehicle if consumer demand is there? (Most importantly, does it have the battery supplies lined up?)
- Will the model have the right mix of range, price, and features? Or will the automaker price the vehicle too high?
- Will the automaker make the model widely available? Related, will the automaker market it strongly? (Not every auto company has an Elon Musk working Twitter.)
Not knowing the answers to any of those questions, a handful of potentially mass-market models have been bubbling up, but we’ll have to wait to see if they live up to their hype. Nonetheless, let’s have a quick look at them.
Volkswagen ID.3 — The ID.3 is supposed to be a genuinely competitive, compelling, widely available electric hatchback. It’s in an extremely popular vehicle class in Europe. Many think it will essentially be the successor to the iconic VW Golf.
The US saw ~3,500 Golf sales a month in 2018, but the much more significant region for the Golf is its home region of Europe, where it saw ~37,100 sales a month in 2018. Throw in ~11,650 a month in China and you end up with more than 50,000 sales a month. If the ID.3 will indeed be the successor to the Golf, that should mean tens of thousands of sales a month. The ID.3 should certainly be competitive with class leaders. See:
- Volkswagen ID.3 vs. Volkswagen Golf — 5 Year Cost of Ownership Comparison
- Volkswagen ID.3 vs. Skoda Octavia, Renault Megane, & Peugeot 308 — 5 Year Cost of Owernship Comparison
The biggest question in my mind is, what does that transition from the Golf to the ID.3 look like? When will Volkswagen sell ~7,000 units of the ID.3 a month in Europe, ~3,000 a month in China, and ~1,000 a month in the USA? (Well, actually, it’s not expected the ID.3 will make it to the US since Americans want bigger vehicles and has the least mature EV market.) Going out on a limb, I’m going to say that Volkswagen could be selling 10,000+ ID.3s by the end of 2020. If not by then, it better be doing so in 2021.
Volkswagen has said it expects to achieve an annual run rate of 100,000 units by late 2020 or 2021, but its EV forecasts have shifted back and forth a few times.
Volkswagen ID.4 — The ID.4 (formerly known as the ID Crozz) is probably an even more important model, since it is in the supremely popular crossover class. If the ID.3 is going to be a hit, the ID.4 should be a bigger one. The problem is that it comes out after the ID.3, which means there’s probably a longer wait to hit 10,000/month. But the model is supposed to arrive next year, and with experience from the ID.3, growing awareness about EV competitiveness, tightening regulations, as well as the popularity of crossovers, it’s not inconceivable that ID.4 production could ramp up quickly.
So, yay or nay — 10,000 ID.4 units a month by end of 2020? If that’s too ambitious, how about the first half of 2021?
Ford F-150 Electric — The Ford F-150 was the highest selling passenger vehicle in the world in 2018 — #1. Ford is working on an electric version of the F-150. We don’t know the price yet, so we don’t know how serious this effort is, but there’s no reason an electric F-150 in 2020 shouldn’t be a highly compelling, competitive truck. Many of us believe that at this point in the tech’s evolution, you’d have to purposefully make the electric variant worse in order for it to not embarrass the gasoline or diesel versions.
So, yeah, as long as Ford put in a moderate effort and secured the batteries for the vehicle, an electric F-150 should be able to pull in 10,000+ sales a week soon after its release. That said, I’m skeptical Ford will put in a serious effort and I think it will prefer to relegate an electric F-150 to niche status in various ways (high price, limited availability). We’ll see, but I’m optimistically putting the model down for 10,000+ sales a month sometime in early 2021. I won’t be surprised if it misses that target.
Ford electric crossover — Ford’s on the verge of releasing a “Mustang-inspired” electric crossover. That simple summary has all the elements you need for a runaway success, but it’s also super vague and doesn’t mention price ($40,000 would see an enormous number of sales; $70,000, not so much). We also don’t know anything about production plans, and this comes from an automaker that has barely produced any fully electric vehicles.
BMW iX3 — Yet another vehicle in the popular crossover category is the X3, one of BMW’s top sellers. With ~5,300 monthly sales in Europe, ~5,100 in the US, and ~10,000 in China, the X3 is one of the most popular premium-class crossovers in the world. If BMW designs a compelling electric X3, it should definitely be able to sell 10,000+ units a month. It should actually see more sales than the current X3!
That said, BMW seems to now be behind the curve and it appears the company’s top execs are not bullish on EVs, which means they’ve become laggards on the topic. The iX3 might be a tremendous electric vehicle, but if BMW is slow to bring it to market, slow to ramp up production, and slow to secure supplies, then it could be 2–3 years before the model reaches 10,000 sales a month — if it ever does.
Renault Zoe — The Zoe has been Europe’s top selling electric vehicle several years. At around 4,000 sales a month, it’s still doing alright. However, with a longer range battery, ongoing word-of-mouth sales, and growing fleet sales, especially in France, the Zoe could see a strong uptick in demand.
How about the Zoe’s closest competitor? That would probably be the Clio. With 328,536 sales in 2018 in Europe, that’s ~27,400 sales a month. The Zoe should replace the Clio over time, just as the ID.3 is presumably going to replace the Golf. There’s no reason the Clio should survive another 5 years.
More than 10,000 Zoe sales a month in 2020? We better hope so!
Got any other electric models you’re bullish on that you think could reach 10,000+ sales a month within the next couple of years? Got any in mind that you think could match the Tesla Model 3’s current 25,000+ sales per month? Chime in down below to let us know.
I’ve got a few in mind, including existing models, but I need to see more proof that the parent automakers are prepared to produce 10,000+ units a month before I’m going to write speculatively about their sales potential.
For more on 2019 electric vehicle sales in the US and Europe, see: