Demand for electric cars among private individuals – rather than business or government fleets – increased by a staggering 56 per cent in the first five months of this year – at the same time as the overall market slumped by 24 per cent, figures obtained by CarAdvice show.
According to the quarterly update released on Thursday by the California New Car Dealers Association, the Model 3 outsold the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla in the state from the start of the year through March.
The Honda Civic is a longtime top-seller in California, as is the Corolla—and the Corolla is cumulatively the best-selling nameplate in the world.
At a total of 18,856 registrations for the quarter, according to the report, the Model 3 now also outsells the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, in a sales tally that includes the separate Camry Hybrid and Accord Hybrid versions of each of those models.
“There’s pent-up demand for electric vehicles,” said Sam Jaffe, managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors. “We will see a combination of factors make 2021 an inflection point for the sale of electric vehicles.”
“EV adoption is probably going to keep rising and not even dip, which is quite remarkable,” said BNEF head of advanced transport Colin McKerracher, the lead author on the long-term forecast, which assesses the market from now to 2040. “But that adoption rate is about to get very different between different countries.”
In the U.S., EV sales will shrink to just 1.7 percent of the personal auto market in 2021. At the same time, the sector will swell to 8.1 percent of all sales in China, which accounts for the largest share of global EV sales, and 5 percent of those in Europe, the BNEF report says.
According to Floris Jousma, clean mobility specialist at the European Alternative Fuels Observatory, “most people that registered a new BEV in the first quarter had already ordered them before the pandemic.” Now that more models have become available, prices are dropping, and the range of the newer models has increased, more people are being convinced they could live with an electric car. Furthermore, more countries with big markets like Germany, France, UK and Italy, implemented more financially interesting incentives for consumers.
“Also, the effect of having more electric vehicles on the road affects people’s view and mindset,” Jousma adds. “Our research shows that when an acquaintance (like a friend, family member or even neighbor) buys an electric vehicle, people are more inclined to also open their mind to buying one as their next car.” …
Sales of electric passenger vehicles are forecast to fall 18% in 2020, to 1.7 million worldwide – with the coronavirus crisis interrupting ten successive years of strong growth. However, sales of combustion engine cars are set to drop even faster this year (by 23%), and the long-term electrification of transport is projected to accelerate in the years ahead.
In March, as much of Europe went into lockdown, car sales on the continent fell by more than half. But registrations of battery-powered cars surged 23 percent, according to Matthias Schmidt, an analyst in Berlin who tracks the industry.
In April, lockdowns caught up with electric cars, too, and their sales fell 31 percent, according to Mr. Schmidt’s estimate. But that was nothing compared with the total European car market, which plummeted 80 percent.
But here’s what has a good chance of happening.
Carmakers may not be as motivated to sell electric cars in coming months. They will be tempted to instead push S.U.V.s, which generate far greater profits and are easier to sell now that fuel prices have plunged.
Much will depend on government incentives and regulations. Europe and China are doing more to promote electric cars than the United States under the Trump administration.
Some possible good news for startups.
Turmoil in the market could be good for electric car start-ups like Byton and Lucid, which have proliferated after Tesla showed it was possible to challenge the traditional carmakers. The start-ups have a chance to attack the market while the established companies are struggling.
Sales of EVs reached 130,297 in the European Union, the UK, and countries who are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
That represents a 58 percent increase over electric vehicle sales in Europe in Q1 2019 and a 4.3 percent overall market share improvement for EVs in Europe.