We’ve gotten some great electric vehicle news this week in the United States — the Chevy Bolt EV had a record 1st quarter, the Audi e-tron had a record quarter, the Ford Mustang Mach-E arrived with a bang, and US-based EV giant Tesla had a record quarter.
As I’ve been covering in the past couple of days, it’s exciting to see various electric vehicles from legacy automakers hitting record numbers in the US, but we’re still lacking a high-volume EV that displaces as many gasmobiles — or anywhere close to as many — as the Tesla Model 3 or Model Y.
Flipping the bar chart from above, you can see the steep sales ladder these models or other electric models in the US need to climb in order to reach or get close to Tesla Model 3 and Model Y levels.
The Audi e-tron (both body options), Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Chevy Bolt EV together had about 20,000 sales in the first quarter of the year, less than the Model 3 alone, and less than one month of sales of the Honda Civic.
In terms of fun models and PR excitement, the US electric vehicle market is popping. It feels like great momentum is building. But the numbers in the field are weak, disappointing.
Many people get upset that Tesla gets so much press and has such enthusiastic (some might say “loud & obnoxious” or “toxic”) fans, but there is something going on that goes far beyond hardcore fandom. Tesla is doing something (or several things) right that the other automakers are not doing. Most of the Tesla owners I meet do not follow Elon Musk on Twitter, do not come across as super fans, and often do not know some recent news regarding the company. But they know they love their Teslas, they appreciate Tesla’s Supercharger network, and they enjoy Tesla’s infotainment package. They also know, considering that they have Teslas, that the sales process is super easy, clear, and painless — no sleazy salesperson or finance guy to work with, no need to freshen up on the fine art of haggling (an art most of us abhor).
I don’t know what the top factors are that lead so many Americans to buy Teslas but not other electric vehicles. I know my reasons, I know the reasons readers have provided us in the past, and I know what my hunches are. But I don’t know, truly, how much each factor leads to a Tesla sale versus a sale of another EV. What I do know is what’s obvious to anyone looking at these charts: the other automakers need to step it up. If they want to get the press and prestige of Tesla, then they need to show that they are exciting customers, producing at high volumes, and effectively trying to stimulate and satisfy consumer demand for a powertrain transition. Until they start getting close to the figures the Model 3 and Model Y are seeing, it’s just tough for anyone to take their efforts very seriously — or as seriously — and tough to defend earnest, pure efforts that apparently can’t attract or satisfy the same levels of consumer demand.
There’s nothing I’d like to see more in this industry than 10+ electric models running neck and neck with the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y.