Electric Vehicle Sales Compared To U.S. Top Car Sales

The website Clean Technica presents interesting information on electric vehicles sales compared to top car sales in the US generally. The news is mixed but to my mind ultimately positive. The bad: EV sales are pretty tiny compared to ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, with no true EV cracking the top 20. The Toyota Prius Plug-In (with the first few miles all-battery electric but then traditional hybrid miles from thereon) hit #15. But:

13.5 times more units of the Toyota Camry were sold than the top-selling electric car, the Nissan Leaf.

However, the overall trajectory of the EV sales is outpacing hybrids at a similar stage of introduction, and this disruptive technology is showing a hockey stick-like sales trajectory. Here’s the most recent EV sales chart from the PEV Collaborative:

EV sales nationwide and in CA from 2011 through June 2014

EV sales nationwide and in CA from 2011 through June 2014

And as the Clean Technica post notes:

If the Nissan Leaf quadrupled its sales (or if the Tesla Model III came along and sold 4 times as many cars per month as the Leaf), it would make it into the top 20 best-selling cars in the US.

Quadrupling sales doesn’t seem like that big of a feat giving how fast sales have been increasing, the fact that most Americans still aren’t aware of the Nissan Leaf, and the fact that disruptive technologies see exponential growth, not linear growth.

EV companies and advocates still have a ways to go with the technology: we need cheaper vehicles with a longer range. Tesla’s gigafactory is the big hope in this respect, but even without a game-changer factory, the technology is steadily improving and becoming cheaper. The sales data we see here, to my mind, offers cause for cautious optimism.


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