US Electric Vehicle Sales Up 66%, Rise To 7% Of US Auto Sales

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The US electric vehicle market has been growing strongly year after year. Sales in the 1st quarter of 2023 are more than double sales in the 1st quarter of 2021, and they are more than 5 times what they were three years ago. In the grand scheme of things, according to CleanTechnica‘s calculations, pure electric vehicle sales rose to 7.1% of US auto sales in the 1st quarter of 2023.

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As the chart above shows, that has come from strong growth in Tesla sales and even stronger growth in non-Tesla electric vehicle sales. The 2023 numbers make the 2022 numbers look small and make the 2020 numbers look minuscule.

Image free for use anywhere unmodified. © CleanTechnica.
Image free for use anywhere unmodified. © CleanTechnica.

Overall, EV sales increased by 66% year over year in the 1st quarter, and they increased by 162% if you compare to the 1st quarter of 2021. In volume terms, that was growth of almost 100,000 units and more than 150,000 units, respectively.

What about the actual model leaders? Which models are shining amid the sales boom?

It will surprise no one that the Q1 sales chart is topped by a certain Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3. They have dominated US electric vehicle sales essentially since their arrival. The low-cost Chevy Bolt EV/EUV is a clear third, having more than double the sales of the #4 Volkswagen ID.4 (appropriate placement, no?). After the ID.4, you’ve got an unclear, undisclosed combination of sales from Rivian’s three models (so, we don’t really know if any of them do indeed rank 5th), and then sales drop off quite a bit.

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Extrapolating, the VW ID.4 is basically on track for 40,000 sales in 2023, the Chevy Bolt EV/EUV is on track for about 80,000, the Tesla Model 3 is on track for 200,000, and the Tesla Model Y is on track for 400,000!

Let’s now look a bit at how the sales of certain models have changed over time.

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Well, that’s a big one, eh? Chevy Bolt production was in a tough state in early 2022 due to some battery issues GM and its supplier, LG, had to resolve. So, this increase in sales is a bit deceiving. Nonetheless, 5403% growth in sales is amazing and noteworthy. Kudos to GM for the big rebound. (Unfortunately, since I initially wrote this, news has broken that the Chevy Bolt EV and EUV are being retired at the end of the year.)

The BMW iX and Rivian’s models were brand new to the market a year ago, so the growth there looks good but is again deceiving. The Volkswagen ID.4’s 254% sales growth is probably the most notable to me, since the model had been on the market for a year already. 254% is strong growth. Let’s see if it can achieve similar growth in the coming year!

Unfortunately, several good EV models dropped in sales. The Ford Mustang Mach-E (-20%), Hyundai Ioniq 5 (-8%), and Kia EV6 (-36%) were the most surprising to me. These are models that should definitely be seeing sales growth, not sales declines.

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As far as volume change in sales (not percentage change), the Chevy Bolt EV/EUV is still impressive, but one model stands far above the rest. The Tesla Model Y’s sales jumped by almost 50,000 units, which extrapolates to about 200,000 units a year. Again, the ID.4 also impressed, with an increase of more than 7,000 units. True, that doesn’t compare to the Model Y, but not all models can be vying for the best selling car in the world title.

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How about EV sales changes from Q1 2021 (two years ago) to Q1 2023?

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The VW ID.4 was clearly the leader in percentage growth from Q1 2021 to Q1 2023 (+1959%), but, like the case of the BMW iX and Rivian models mentioned above, this is because the Q1 2023 sales total is being compared to the ID.4’s first quarter on the market (which means inherently low deliveries/sales). While their bars don’t look as great, what is truly impressive to me here is: 130% Tesla Model Y sales growth, 118% Chevy Bolt EV/EUV sales growth, and 117% Tesla Model 3 sales growth.

Again, the surprisingly negative side of the story here is five models’ decline in sales. The Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan LEAF, Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron Sportback, and Audi e-tron all saw their numbers drop. That’s not uplifting.

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On a volume basis, it’s again about the Model Y’s expansive growth in sales (up by 56,000+ units in the quarter) and the Chevy Bolt’s strong growth (up by 10,000+ units), but also about the Model 3’s growth (up by ~28,000 units) and the ID.4’s growth (up by 9,000+ units). Too bad the Bolt is on it’s way out now. RIP, old dog.

What other trends do you notice here? Or what other data would you like to see us crunch? Also be sure to see our overall US auto industry sales report for the first quarter, which put Tesla as the 8th top selling automaker in the country: “Tesla Now 8th Best Selling Auto Brand In USA — US Auto Sales Up 9%, But Down 11% Vs. 2019.”

You can also explore our 2022 US EV sales report for another look at the growing industry: “US Electric Car Sales Increased 65% In 2022.”

Note that this report excludes plugin hybrids when taking about electric vehicles. Also, some full electric models are not included because the automakers that make them do not indicate their sales totals.

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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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