The first quarter of the year was a tough one for the U.S. auto industry. Overall sales of cars and trucks were down 15.7% compared with last year. Automakers have been dealing with shortages of computer chips and other supplies, resulting in slowdowns in production.
The one major exception to the trend has been sales of electric cars. In the first quarter, U.S. electric vehicle sales were up 76% compared with last year. This was enough to double EV’s market share to 5.2%, up from 2.5% last year.
Reaching a five percent market share is a significant indicator that electric vehicles are becoming mainstream. According to many industry analysts, this is just the beginning of a major ramp-up in EV sales.
The strong results in the first quarter were largely driven by one company – namely, Tesla. Tesla has been expanding rapidly and has been proactive and creative in avoiding delays due to parts shortages. Tesla’s best-selling car is now the Model Y, which is an SUV implementation of its Model 3 design. Overall, the company is now producing cars at a rate of more than 1 million per year and has recently opened new manufacturing plants in Texas and in Germany.
But Tesla is not the only story in the world of electric vehicles. Mass production is beginning for Ford’s F-150 Lightning truck.
Nissan, Hyundai and Kia have electric cars on the market and shortly near-twin electric models jointly developed by Subaru and Toyota will be available as well.
The electrification of vehicles is an essential step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With gasoline at painfully high prices, electric cars are more attractive than ever.
Inside Clean Energy: US Electric Vehicle Sales Soared in First Quarter, while Overall Auto Sales Slid
Photo, posted October 13, 2017, courtesy of Rob Bertholf via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.