Year over year sales for electric passenger cars and light-duty vehicles in the United States
Nearly everyone is happy to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. Indeed, the reasons to be optimistic about 2021 go beyond the distribution of a vaccine for COVID-19. Passenger electric vehicles are poised to have a breakout year in the United States following a stellar year in Europe. While auto sales continued to dip into the fall on a year-over-year basis (see chart above), EV sales jumped and experienced their best October sales on record. Looking ahead, automakers will be rolling out a slew of new models, many of which are among the most anticipated of the year, across new market segments like pickup trucks.
From an electric Hummer to an electric Mustang, the auto industry has recognized that consumers are willing to pay a premium for electric drive and long range in a pretty package. The first two brands of the EV era, Chevrolet and Nissan both plan to launch new vehicle models in 2021 that will compete in the popular crossover segment. One of the two world’s largest automakers, Volkswagen should begin U.S. deliveries of their ID.4 crossover some time in the first quarter. Startups Rivian and Lucid also expect to make their first deliveries this year as the EV market continues to attract new investments. All told, we tallied over 30 models that could be delivered this year and $125 billion in announced electric transportation investments during the global pandemic, providing further evidence that automakers see electric as the future of their industry.
Tesla, the elephant in the room, delivered nearly 500,000 EVs in 2020, including more than two-thirds of the EVs sold in the United States through October, and their stock price entered Earth’s orbit faster than a SpaceX rocket. The company became the world’s most valuable automaker in June and it has more than doubled in value since then, reaching $660 billion today. We won’t speculate on the accuracy of this valuation but make no mistake, the market signals all point to an electric future. And if the company delivers its Cybertruck as planned in 2021 and continues to ramp up production worldwide, they’ll demonstrate to the entire industry what massive scale of electric vehicle production looks like.
EVs in the United States should hit the two million sales mark around June of this year, reaching that milestone in about a third of the time it took to reach one million sales. Analysts expect auto sales this year to recover from losses in 2020 assuming the effects of the pandemic subside. We think EVs could take a major step across the chasm to mainstream adoption so long as the automotive industry meets their goals on vehicle production, makes these vehicles readily available for sale, and gets the word out on how these upcoming vehicles are a game changer. In the next edition of the EV Hub spotlight, we’ll offer some thoughts on the EV policy landscape in 2021.