Kia EV9 at Very Large Array in New Mexico. Photo by Jennifer Sensiba | CleanTechnica

GM, Kia Report Strong EV Sales In First Half Of 2024 As Jim Farley Begs People To Drive Smaller Cars

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The sales numbers for the US auto industry at the end the first half of 2024 show strong gains as the hangover from Covid-related supply chain issues seem finally to be in the rear view mirror. GM said it delivered 696,086 vehicles, including EV models, in the US in the second quarter of 2024, and 1,290,319 total vehicles in the US in the first half of 2024.

“We have an incredible portfolio of diverse vehicles and we’re flexible, so we can win as more customers embrace EVs and we can keep winning if they want to stay with the engine technologies they know,” Marissa West, GM senior vice president and president, North America said in a press release. The company emphasized that it is focused on “advancing an all electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles.”

GM was happy to report that its EV sales were robust so far this year with 38,355 sold, 21,900 of those coming in the second quarter. The Cadillac Lyriq saw a 26% increase in sales in the second quarter, outselling every European brand EV in the US. The all-electric Hummer saw sales jump 76% in the second quarter as well. The Chevy Blazer EV and Chevy Equinox EV are now in showrooms and ready to add to the company’s electric car sales over the remainder of this year.

Kia EV Sales Strong In First Half

EV sales in the US were also a strong point for Kia in the first half of 2024. The company announced on July 2 that Kia America delivered the highest first half EV sales in company history. Kia also marked the second best total sales in the first half of any year in its history. Kia America sold more than 5,000 all-electric vehicles for the third consecutive month and 29,392 total EV models through the sixth months of 2024, up 112% year over year and indicating strong EV sales growth momentum for the company.

“Kia’s leadership as a sustainable mobility solutions provider and our growing selection of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric utility vehicles are delivering one of the most balanced lineups in the industry,” said Eric Watson, vice president, sales operations, Kia America. “With the first-ever hybrid Carnival MPV arriving soon and a growing supply of the updated K5 sedan, Kia continues to provide customers with award-winning choices, and we anticipate consumer demand and Kia showroom traffic to further increase during the second half of the year.”

BNEF Predicts EV Sales Surge

There are lots of stories in the mainstream press about how the EV revolution in America is so over. Not so, says BNEF (formerly known as Bloomberg New Energy Finance). Contributor Corey Cantor wrote on July 2, “The slowdown in US electric vehicle sales may be a mere blip. They could make up almost a third of new car sales by 2027 according to latest BNEF electric vehicle outlook, assuming the current policies remain in place. Electric vehicles accounted for 10% of new US car sales last year.”

The modest near term growth gives way to a much stronger momentum as new more affordable EV models are launched by Ford, Rivian, and Tesla, while the local manufacturing capacity of automakers like Hyundai, BMW, or Toyota is ramped up. By 2027, US EV sales are seen rising to 4.5 million units, against less than 1.5 million last year. EVs are projected to reach 48% of new passenger vehicle sales by 2030, almost meeting President Biden’s target of 50%. This means sales of about 7.7 million EVs in 2030.

The saying “So goes California, so goes the nation” may very well play out in electric vehicles. That state remains a leader in US vehicle electrification, thanks to a combination of the purchase incentives, charging infrastructure funding, and forceful fuel economy standards. In 2023, nearly one in four of all vehicles sold in the state were electric. EV models will represent 65% of new car sales in California by 2030, BNEF says.The global EV picture mimics what is happening in the US market. There has been a slowdown. Nevertheless, BNEF predicts EV sales will increase 21% annually between now and 2027 compared to the average growth of over 60% between 2020 and 2023.

Under its exhaust emissions rules, California will allow about 20% of new car sales to be plug-in hybrids. Those vehicle accounted for about a quarter of US EV sales over the past three years. BNEF does not expect that percentage to change dramatically, though they will continue to represent around a fifth of new car sales, peaking at the end of this decade. The only high volume plug-in hybrid EV models in the US are the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the Toyota Prius Prime, and Toyota RAV4 Prime, all of which offer a modest 30 miles of range — about half of what Chinese plug-ins have available in electric-only mode.

Many CleanTechnica readers are conflicted when the conversation turns to plug-in hybrid EV models, but it is interesting to note that according to the latest sales report from China, PHEV sales jumped 55% last month, a larger sales increase than for battery-electric cars. BYD recently suggest it has developed a plug-in hybrid EV that can go a bladder-busting 1300 miles without stopping. Clearly, the Chinese are doing PHEVs differently than the rest of the world. If they can crack the code for making affordable long range models, we may have to rethink our position on those cars.

All Eyes On 2027

There seems to be a growing consensus that the EV revolution will proceed somewhat slowly over the next few model years, then begin its next rapid growth stage in 2027. That’s when GM says it will have new plug-in hybrid models available which hopefully will have a decent amount of battery-only range. Ford CEO Jim Farley said this week that his company will have an affordable EV that costs less than $30,000 on sale by 2027 and that the car will be profitable for the company. Ford’s EV division has been hemorrhaging money for the past few years.

Farley also had something else interesting to say this week. According to The Guardian, he told those in attendance at the Aspen Ideas Festival, “We have to start to get back in love with smaller vehicles. It’s super important for our society and for EV adoption,” Farley said. “We are just in love with these monster vehicles, and I love them, too, but it’s a major issue with weight.” That’s quite a statement from the head of a company that has led the surge in pickup trucks for the past eleventy-six years.

“You have to make a radical change as an [automaker] to get to a profitable EV. The first thing we have to do is really put all of our capital toward smaller, more affordable EVs,” Farley said during an interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin. “That’s the duty cycle that we’ve now found that really matches. These huge, enormous EVs are never going to make money. The battery is $50,000, even with low-nickel, LFP chemistry. They will never be affordable.” A Ford spokesperson clarified that he was referring to the company’s Super Duty models, which require massive battery packs to achieve ranges of 500 miles, and which are said to be heavier than a Honda Civic. Curiously, GM is tickled pink that its gargantuan Hummer EV is selling well. Sometimes it’s hard to get an accurate read on what leaders in the auto industry are thinking.

The Takeaway

Predicting the future with any degree of accuracy is always tricky. Policy decisions have an enormous impact on markets. There is a distinct possibility that a new administration in the US next year could jettison all the funding for EV battery factories and charging networks included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which would set the EV revolution in the US back by a decade or more. So take everything you read here with a grain of salt. None of it might come true, depending on what policies remain in effect and which get amended. The US Supreme Court has decided that all administrative initiatives can now be scrutinized by partisan judges to make sure they agree with the radical right wing agenda currently threatening to turn America into a quasi-theocracy similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban. We will just have to wait and see how this all plays out.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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