According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. electric vehicle sales increased by about 66%, year over year, with a total of 807,180 electric vehicles sold or 5.8% of all vehicles. This is up from 3.2% of the market a year earlier. That may not sound like a lot, but let me assure you it is and the EV percent of market share is expected to increase even more dramatically in 2023, possibly a lot more (doubling may even be possible if supply chain issues or other challenges don’t hinder sales or production too much). If that rate more or less persists for a few years, before we know it close to half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. will be able to tap the power grid to refuel.
It is no secret that Tesla has the most market share of any EV maker in the U.S. with around 65% of the market in 2022. Media sources have repeatedly pointed out that Tesla’s share of the market is declining though, that other automakers are devouring its share in fact. Interestingly, as fortune.com points out, the market share gains of other brands are showing in the sub $50,000 price range where Tesla “barely competes”, as it only has one model priced below $50,000 (the entry level Model 3). Personally, I find that a little presumptive since Tesla certainly sells a very large amount of its entry level Model 3, possibly more than the sum total of any other EV model on sale in the U.S. today, or even all EVs sold by the next 2 or 3 highest selling automakers combined. While I couldn’t find any solid numbers to back up my instinct on this, there were only around 10 EVs with an MSRP below $50,000 on sale in the U.S. last year (depending on how you count, if delivery fees and incentives are included, whether slightly under $50k matters, and if compliance EVs sold in miniscule numbers are included). Also, I suspect other media outlets may not be factoring in what these lower priced EVs actually sold for after dealer markups which could push many of these EVs into the $50,000 neighborhood and beyond.
All this is just to say that $50,000 is arbitrary. I am certain lower priced EVs did eat away at some of Tesla’s market share in 2022, but it is more likely that compelling designs and features from competitors as well as models that Tesla doesn’t sell (EV pick-ups!) or that Tesla sells for over $50,000 but for which competitors come in more variants that cost less (like middle and lower tier versions of Ford’s Mach-E, Kia’s EV6 or Hyundai’s Ioniq 5) took more of Tesla’s market share. It’s actually simple to get a sense for how accurate my assumption is by adding up the number of Chevy Bolts, Nissan LEAFs, Hyundai Kona EVs and VW ID.4s, and other sub $50k EVs sold that I can find numbers or reasonable estimates for. That sum is about 90,000 or maybe 11-12% of the total EV market share. Tesla sold about twice as many Model 3s in the U.S. last year, though we can only guess how many of those were the sub $50k base model (I would guess about 30-40%). That leaves about 24% of the EV market for all non-Tesla EVs that are likely priced over $50k; you tell me if that 24% is the bigger factor in Tesla’s eroding market share in 2022 (note that sales of sub $50k EVs from brands other than Tesla only increased roughly 33% YOY).
As far as individual brands go (instead of motor groups), Ford sold the second largest number of EVs in the U.S. in 2022 at a total of 61,575 (split between 3 models: the Mach-E at about 64% of Ford EV sales, the F-150 Lightning at about 25%, and the E-Transit van at about 11%). However, if we look at motor groups I am fairly certain the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG, consisting of Hyundai, Kia and Genesis) outsold Ford and Lincoln (which doesn’t sell EVs yet, only plug-in hybrids) and was actually the second largest seller of EVs in the U.S. market for 2022. Here’s why: Kia sold 20,498 EV6s, and an unknown number of Niro EVs but I can safely estimate that about 30% of all Niro sales for 2022 were the EV model so 8,600 Niro EVs is reasonable. Hyundai sold 22,982 Ioniq 5’s in the U.S. last year and their Kona EV had its best ever U.S. sales year as well, likely selling around 19,000 units (based on 8,936 sold in 2021 and a YOY sales increase in 2022 of 113%). The Genesis brand sold a conservatively estimated 1,400 EVs in the U.S. in 2022 as well, based on figures through Q3. If you add up all these figures, you get a total of 72,480 units. VW Group (which includes Audi and Porsche as well) sold the next largest volume of EVs in the U.S. in 2022 at somewhere north of 42,500 based on combined figures available from Inside EVs and electrek. Rounding out the top five brand families, GM delivered 39,096 EVs in 2022 between Chevy (Bolt), GMC (Hummer) and Cadillac (Lyriq).
If you don’t agree with my sorting by brand family, then the top 5 is just: Tesla, Ford, Hyundai, Chevy, and Kia, but that would change the percentage I call out in the headline, a little. Either way you slice it, with the vast majority of EVs being sold by only 5 companies/brand families, this raises some very interesting questions. Will much of this year’s growth come from companies that weren’t in the top 5 in 2022 (since they clearly are going to need to catch up)? Will Tesla market share only slip a little this year (now that its Austin, TX factory is churning out EVs too), or a lot (since everyone is trying to catch them)? How much will plug-in hybrids shift the leadership spots or overall plug-in sales around? And where are the Japanese automakers besides Nissan? That’s right, they were not really competing, much, in the electrification race last year (but that will begin to change in the years to come).
Please leave any questions or comments below.
Images courtesy of Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, and VW.
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 15 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.