The US electric vehicle market is … not the most interesting. Unfortunately, we have only one mass-market electric vehicle on the market, and there are very few models available across the nation. Actually, aside from Tesla’s offerings, I think there are only two fully electric models available at dealers in all 50 states — the Chevy Bolt and Nissan LEAF. I’ll discuss them a bit more later in this article in order to try to explain why their sales are so dismal despite that wide availability. A note on data first, though:
Deciding whether or not to run these monthly US EV sales reports is a frequent conundrum, since the official data is limited (many automakers don’t publish monthly numbers, if at all) but the reports can also be quite popular and do help to put the US EV market into perspective on an ongoing basis. I decided not that long ago to discontinue the monthly reports and only publish quarterly reports, but our friends at EV Volumes just offered to provide us with their US Tesla estimates to help out with these reports and I decided that was enough to get back into the game. I track official numbers from other automakers on a monthly basis anyway.
That said, we don’t have official monthly data for the following models, so the data I use for them are estimated guesses based on historical sales data: Chevy Bolt, Fiat 500e, Honda Clarity EV, Hyundai Ioniq EV, Hyundai Kona EV, Kia Niro EV, and Jaguar I-PACE. Also, note that this report does not include plug-in hybrids, in part because we cannot get sales numbers for most plug-in hybrids and in part because we think it’s time (the technology is ripe) to evolve past “electrified” models to fully electric models.
With all of that out of the way, on to the numbers. Based on all of our number crunching, the Tesla Model 3 accounted for 59% of US electric vehicle sales in October and 62% in the year through October.
Tesla as a whole accounted for 75% of US EV sales in October and 78% (77.7%) in January–October.
That doesn’t leave many sales highlights from other models. The Chevy Bolt comes in with 10% of sales, the Nissan LEAF 6%, the Volkswagen e-Golf 4%, and the Audi e-tron 3% in October. For the first 10 months of the year, the Bolt accounted for about 7% of sales, the LEAF 5%, and the e-Golf and e-tron 2% each.
The Bolt and LEAF both have long range, good tech, and are available across the country. They are solid electric cars that I think do outcompete other cars available for under $30,000. However, they suffer from several challenges:
- They are close in price to the base Tesla Model 3, and many EV buyers heavily prefer the Model 3.
- The MSRP of these cars is often notably higher than the MSRP of similarly styled gasoline cars from those companies. (Consumers may not think to do a total cost of ownership analysis, or may not have the ability to get financing for this price of car at all.)
- Auto dealers generally don’t want to sells EVs, and often just have a show model or two tucked away in the shadows somewhere.
- Nissan and Chevy have been marketing their goods, but they don’t have nearly the customers enthusiasm or fan base that Tesla vehicles have, and the marketing has been minimal compared to other models in their fleets.
- Limited availability might be a problem from time to time.
If more consumers find out about the total cost of ownership benefits of a Bolt of LEAF, and notice attractive local-dealer discounts while remembering these models still benefit from the US federal tax credit, you could see a consumer sprint to get more of these models before year-end. Or not.
On the top of the market, since the Tesla Model 3, objectively, is a better vehicle in many key ways than other gasoline vehicles in the $35,000–67,000 price range, we expect sales to continue to be sky high indefinitely. We don’t even see a genuine competitor anywhere on the horizon, unless you count the Model 3’s coming crossover sibling, the Model Y.
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