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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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Are America’s Electric Vehicle Targets Too Ambitious?

Sales of electric vehicles in the United States more than doubled in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year, when lockdowns had hit car sales everywhere in the world.  Still, the jump in EV sales is good news for the current American administration, which wants 50 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States in 2030 to be zero-emission vehicles. The rise in EV registrations is also good news for both Tesla and the legacy automakers vying for a share of the zero-emission vehicle pie. 

Despite the surge in U.S. sales of EVs, America lags behind Europe and China in EV market share. Charging infrastructure constraints and consumer anxiety about range, as well as prices of larger EVs, are still holding back the United States from fully developing its potential of a vast EV market. 

The First-half 2021 sales data is encouraging—the number of EV registrations in America surged to 214,111 vehicles, up from 98,351 in the first half of 2020. However, it’s worth noting that the first half of 2020 is a low base for comparison because lockdowns hit all auto sales, including EV sales. 

Tesla’s vehicles accounted for two-thirds of all new EV registrations in the first half of this year, data from Experian cited by Automotive News showed. Tesla’s Model Y accounted for 38.2 percent of all EVs registered in the U.S. between January and June 2021. It also accounted for most of the growth in U.S. EV sales.  

Tesla’s closest competitor was Chevrolet with its Chevy Bolt, which accounted for 9.6 percent of new registrations. Ford, with the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV, had 5.6 percent of new EV registrations in America in H1 2021. Tesla’s overall market share—while still formidable—has started to erode due to competition from the big automakers. Ford, for example, is a newcomer to the list of most EVs sold. 

The EV market share of all sales rose to 2.5 percent from around or less than 2 percent in previous years. 

Yet, the U.S. growth in EV sales lags behind the growth in Europe and China, and the share of EVs is still lower than the world average and much lower than some of the big economies in Europe such as Germany, the UK, or France. 

Related: How Can Emerging Markets Capitalize On Geothermal Energy’s Potential?

Globally, EV sales surged by 168 percent in H1 2021 from a low base in the same period of 2020. Still, growth rates in all regions were 3 to 8 times higher than the total light vehicle market, data from EV-Volumes showed

The overall share of battery EVs and plug-in hybrids jumped to 6.3 percent this year from 3 percent last year. Europe’s EV sales represented 14 percent of all car sales, up from 7 percent in H1 2020, with the caveat that half of Europe’s EV sales were plug-in hybrids.

In 2020, EV sales accounted for 2.0 percent of all cars sold in the U.S., data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows. To compare, the share of EV sales of new car sales last year was 13.5 percent in Germany and 11.3 percent in each of France and the UK. 

Price, charging, range, and availability of models are the top concerns of most Americans regarding EVs. 

Carmakers are addressing the concerns with model availability and have announced new EVs that will be released over the next few years. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration hopes to speed up EV adoption by helping build a national charging infrastructure with $7.5 billion in funding. 

The lack of chargers in rural America and outside the big cities has been a major hurdle to EV sales. 

But the biggest hurdle seems to continue to be America’s mixed feelings toward EVs. 

A Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year that 47 percent of U.S. adults would support a proposal to phase out the production of gasoline-powered cars and trucks, while 51 percent oppose it.

About four-in-ten Americans, or 39 percent, say that the next time they purchase a vehicle, they are at least somewhat likely to seriously consider electric, while 46 percent say they are not too or at all likely to do so.  

“The public’s views on electric vehicles at this stage appears clear on two counts. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (67%) say that electric cars and trucks are better for the environment compared with gas-powered vehicles. But a similar share (66%) also sees electric vehicles as hitting a higher price point,” Pew Research Center says. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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