If you’ve been following the US electric vehicle market for a few years, you know that the Tesla Model 3 was a landmark arrival that spiked electric car demand. It did so abroad as well as in the United States, but it was no more dramatic than in the US. Due to the fact that a top cleantech product swung into the mainstream market like pretty nothing before it, covering that rise was one of the most exciting portions of my 11 year career in this business. To go back in time to that thrilling period of growth, see: “30 Nasty Tesla Charts.” Or there’s this similar piece from 4 months later: “13 Amazing Tesla Sales Milestones (+ 17 Charts).” Furthermore, you can see the spike in the quarterly Tesla sales chart I publish every quarter:
Representing this growth in another way, the US Department of Energy has released a chart based on data from Argonne National Laboratory showing how dramatically lithium-ion battery capacity in new electric vehicles grew from 2017 to 2018, and then a bit further in 2019.
“With a 1% increase in sales and increasing battery pack size, all-electric vehicles (EVs) captured a record amount of total plug-in vehicle battery capacity sold in 2019, 17.4 gigawatt-hours,” the US Department of Energy writes. “Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) accounted for a smaller portion of total plug-in vehicle battery capacity due to their lower sales volumes and because they require smaller battery packs than EVs, since they have gasoline-powered engines to extend total vehicle range. PHEV sales decreased 32% from 2018 to 2019, about the same as the decrease in PHEV battery capacity. Calendar year 2018 was the first full year of Tesla Model 3 sales, which accounted for the large increase in total battery capacity between 2017 and 2018.”
Indeed. The Model 3 brought the electric vehicle market, especially the US electric vehicle market, to another level. The Tesla Model Y should boost it further, if less dramatically due to the higher base the Model 3 set, and the Tesla Cybertruck around the corner should open up a big new swath of buyers. Furthermore, at more or less the same time, you’ve got a handful of other compelling and potentially mass-market electric cars, trucks, and SUVs arriving. Many more are sprouting in the European and Chinese markets, but the US will get some big arrivals. In 2020, the Ford Mustang Mach-E will land. Then 2021 will bring the Volkswagen ID.4. An electric Ford F-150 is coming at some point. Rivian should start producing some highly anticipated (but in my opinion a bit too expensive) models, an electric SUV and an electric pickup truck. And then there’s the Nikola Badger. Oh, well, let’s not go down that road.
Electric vehicles are still at just a couple percent or few percent of the US auto market, compared to around 10% in Europe now, but momentum is building. Things should get interesting and exciting again in the coming few years.