Overall US EV Adoption Begins to Challenge California
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Overall US EV Adoption Begins to Challenge California

Rivian driving on a cliff-side road California US
  • Over the last five years, California EV sales jumped from 2% to 22%. 
  • The rest of the US tends to be about three years behind trends happening in California. 
  • US drivers are purchasing EVs at a rate of one million per year. 

California has led the way with EV sales in the United States. According to the latest sales numbers, battery-electric vehicles have reached the tipping point in the Golden State with a 5% saturation. In the last five years, EV sales have jumped from 2% to 22%, showing that EVs are here to stay. 


The Tipping Points

Kia

The early economic tipping point for EV sales was 5%, and California exceeded that number several years ago – and it was the first major economic market to do so. Globally, 23 countries have achieved the 5% tipping point, and economists recognize that sales tend to jump dramatically once the tipping point is achieved.

Economists often compare California to other countries, especially as the state rivals Japan and Sweden in geographic size. The state also has a GDP of over $3.3 Trillion, making it one of the top five economies in the world. So, EV sales and trends matter in California, and the state ranks fourth in terms of overall EV sales, behind China, Germany, and the United States as a whole. 


Tesla Atop American-Made Sales List in 2023

EV sales in the United States also reached a new milestone. This year, Tesla has the four best-selling most American-made vehicles according to Cars.com. The Volkswagen ID.4, which is also assembled in the US, is the fifth EV on the top 10 list. In 2022, only two EVs made the list – the Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3. 

When California sets trends, the rest of the country tends to follow – but often three years later. And, EV sales in states not named California are growing. If the rest of the US follows California, EV sales figures could reach 25% by 2026. During the second quarter of 2023, EV sales in California were up 70% compared to the second quarter of 2022. 

In the first six months of 2023, Tesla sold over 330,000 vehicles in the US. Hyundai and Kia combined to sell over 38,000 EVs. General Motors was close behind with over 36,000 EVs, while Volkswagen and Ford sold 26,000 and 25,000 EVs respectively. 

With Hyundai’s record-setting EV sales in September, it’s safe to say that drivers are looking for models not named Tesla. According to the automaker, IONIQ 5 sales grew 203% in September 2023. 


Global and Domestic Tesla Sales

Globally, Tesla continues to dominate the EV market, but probably not for long. Chinese EV manufacturer BYD is closing in – without the US market. According to Bloomberg, BYD sold 431,000 EVs in the third quarter of 2023, while Tesla sold 435,000 EVs. 

BYD also sells hybrid vehicles, and according to Bloomberg, the Chinese automaker backed by US investor Warren Buffett, sold over 1.8 million vehicles in 2022. In 2022, Tesla sold 1.3 million cars. 

In the United States, Tesla sells more EVs than other manufacturers combined. Over 60 percent of EVs in the US are made by Tesla. To continue to entice buyers, the automaker dropped prices and added more standard features. 


Where EV Sales Are Growing

EVgo

Unfortunately, too many automakers have unsold EVs sitting on dealership lots. For many consumers, the low-range EVs like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt aren’t enough. They want vehicles with longer ranges and faster charging. Consumers are also waiting for new 2024 models like the Honda Prologue, Chevy Silverado EV, and Jeep Recon. 

They are also waiting for better public EV charging infrastructure. As charging stations pop up around the country, drivers in Florida, Texas, Washington, and New Jersey are choosing EVs at a growing rate. 

States with more than 10% EV saturation include

  • Washington 18%
  • Oregon 17%
  • Hawaii 15%
  • Nevada 14%
  • Colorado and New Jersey 13%
  • Massachusetts and Virginia 11%

One Million Annually and Growing

When EVs were first introduced in the US, consumers needed ten years to purchase one million of them. The second million sold two years later, and the third million sold in just over a year. The fourth million is on its way and looks to be achieved in less than a year, as US consumers purchased over 970,000 fully electric vehicles between June 2022 and June 2023. 

If EV sales include plug-in hybrid vehicles, American drivers purchased over one million PHEVs and EVs over nine months. 


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FEATURE IMAGE: RIVIAN

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AUTHOR: 

KRISTEN BENTLEY

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