3 Electric Vehicles Are Class Leaders In California — Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y

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As reported earlier today, electric vehicles are seeing a higher share of auto sales in California than ever before. The Tesla Model Y is the 2nd best selling vehicle in the state across the board! The Model 3 is the 12th best selling vehicle. Overall, plugin vehicles accounted for 11% of all new auto sales in the first half of 2021.

Though, taking a look at these broad views of the market and the top sellers leaves out some more nuanced perspective. In particular, three electric vehicle models topped their vehicle classes in the Golden State.

First of all, starting with the little guy, the Chevy Bolt is leading its Subcompact Cars class. In fact, it’s not even close, and the Bolt has a whopping 34.6% share of this car class. The send best selling car in the Subcompact class is the Nissan Versa, with 25.5% share.

Interestingly, the Tesla Model 3 has a similarly strong grip on its class, the “Near Luxury” car class (which, I’ll admit, I always find to be an name for a vehicle class). The Model 3 holds 36.6% of this class, more than three times more than than the BMW 3-Series’ 11.1% vehicle class share.

Rather than going from more impressive to less impressive, though, we’re getting more impressive each step of the way. The Tesla Model Y was far and away the king or queen of its class, the Luxury Compact SUV class. The Model Y held a jaw-dropping 38.9% of this class in the first half of the year, while the #2 Lexus NX held just 9.6% of the class.

Unfortunately, even California needs more electric vehicle models. The top sellers in the market are doing extremely well, but there’s not enough diversity and choice. It seems that the only other electric vehicle model, among 20 classes of vehicles, to get into the top 5 for its class was the BMW i3. Yes, the BMW i3. The i3’s rather meager 588 sales in the first half of 2021 (an average of 98 sales a month) put it in 5th in the smallest category of all — “Entry Luxury” — and landed it 8.2% of that vehicle class.

When do we get electric top sellers in more classes? Which class gets an electric top seller next — midsize cars, sports/pony cars, compact cars, large cars, compact/midsize pickup trucks, full size pickup trucks, subcompact SUVs, compact SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, something else?

As I looked through the vehicle class lists, though, and created the charts above, the other thing that really struck me was: why are so many people (Californians, no less!) still buying competitors in these classes with top selling electric vehicles? Why are so many people still buying the quite lame and limited Lexus ES, Lexus IS, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC-Class, Nissan Versa, Chevy Spark? The charts above are exciting, but at the same time, it’s disappointing to see how many people still choose to buy worse, more costly, outdated gasoline-powered vehicles in the most advanced EV market in the USA even while so many of their neighbors and colleagues are going electric. The electric transition is overnight on an individual basis when someone goes electric, but it takes years upon years across neighborhoods, communities, cities, and societies.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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