On Saturday, May 8, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted “Saturday Night Live.” While the episode itself wasn’t all that memorable, it was a good reflection of the current zeitgeist. Musk, an eccentric billionaire with an itchy Twitter finger, has become the persona of the EV movement. Whether he’s smoking pot on a podcast or moving the price of a cryptocurrency with a single Tweet, he can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. And neither can EVs.
At press time, Ford was the latest automaker to make headlines with its plans for electrification. On May 24, Ford unveiled the all-electric F-150 Lightning Pro. Two days later, the company said it expects to ramp up spending on electrification – including battery development – to the tune of more than $30 billion by 2025. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a bombshell or not, but Ford also said it anticipates that its EV sales will account for 40% of its global vehicle volume by 2030. Considering that Tesla still dominates the U.S. EV market, I thought it was noteworthy.
For years now, we’ve been hearing about plans and projections for EVs, but they’ve been far enough into the future that they almost seemed fanciful. The latest U.S. sales figures, though, suggest there’s some real momentum for EVs.
According to an analysis of the U.S. auto market by Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book, sales growth of electric and hybrid vehicles outpaced the overall market by a wide margin in the first quarter of 2021. Sales of electrified vehicles were up nearly 81% year over year, compared to 11.4% for the overall vehicle market. According to the analysis, electrified vehicles accounted for 7.8% of the total U.S. market, up from 4.8% in first-quarter 2020.
Digging a bit deeper into the numbers, sales of battery-only EVs grew by 44.8% year over year, reaching a record of nearly 100,000 units in the quarter. According to the Cox Automotive/Kelley Blue Book analysis, hybrid vehicles set the pace for the EV market and the overall market, doubling to more than 200,000 units in the quarter.
In the February issue of AMN/Counterman, Amy Antenora’s feature story, “Aftermarket Gold Rush,” asked: Will 2021 be the year of the electric vehicle?” That turned out to be a prescient question. Not only are people talking about EVs (nothing new there), but according to the latest U.S. sales figures, they’re also buying them.