Electric Vehicles Not Moving the Needle

The constant deluge of press covering Elon Musk and Tesla distort our perception of the electric vehicle market as a whole. Tesla’s success in attracting media attention and popular interest is far from the reality in the electric vehicle market. The anticipation around the arrival of the Tesla Model 3 has sparked renewed interest in zero-emission vehicles and EVs, but when we look a little deeper, the numbers don’t match the narrative. Electric car sales are still lower than industry observers wanted.

Slow EV sales can be attributed to price and range anxiety, and Elon Musk says that the Model 3 can move the needle with accessible pricing. But Musk will also tell you that only about half of people in the United States could actually afford his entry-level offering. Experts are worried that attractive features that would make the new car a genuine hit will increase the price and push the vehicle further out of the hands of most potential buyers.

Electric cars are also losing ground given overall industry pressures. What we’re seeing and hearing is that total truck and car deliveries will take another hit in July – some estimates are pegging the year over year downturn at around million vehicles – even with electric vehicle demand spiking 41% in the first half of the year. The issue, however, is that this segment of the industry only accounts for about 0.5% of the total car market. Now, this does bode well for the future as demand for alternative fuel vehicles will grow – and automakers will be forced to keep innovating – but not at the pace that enthusiasts had expected. At this rate, it doesn’t look like electric cars will move the needle this year. We might not see a major shift in electric vehicle acceptance until 2020 at the earliest.