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EV Sales on the Rise in ’21 as Gas Prices Soar

It appears as though sales of both electric and hybrid vehicles are back en vogue in the first quarter of 2021. Electric vehicles accounted for 7.8% of the total U.S. market, up 3% year over year. As gas prices sore, and investment in EV across all manufacturers starts to show up in retail, this may be a trend that continues for quite some time.

Electrified vehicle sales growth of 81% led industry growth. Sales of EVs grew 44.8% year over year, setting a Q1 record with just under 100,000 sales. Sales of hybrid vehicles exceeded more than 200,000 in the quarter which makes sense as gas prices in California, for example, are now reaching $5 a gallon.

Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book analysis chart:

Q1 2021Q1 2020Y-O-Y Increase 
 EVs 98,83268,24744.82%
 HEVs / PHEVs 204,92199,719105.50%
 Total Electrified 303,753167,96680.84%
 Total Market 3,907,7383,509,29911.35%
Total % Electrified7.77%4.79%62.40%

Cox and Kelley Blue Book Analysis:

Tesla sold approximately 69,300 vehicles in Q1 and accounted for 71% of total EV sales in Q1, down from 12% share in Q1 2020 as others jump in the game.

The new Tesla Model Y is the best-selling EV in the U.S., followed by the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 was the No. 1 best-selling EV in 2020, but sales in the U.S. market declined by more than 50% year over year in the first quarter of 2021. The Chevrolet Bolt was No. 3 on the EV list, with nearly 10,000 sales in the quarter. The all-new Ford Mustang Mach-E, which went on sale in December, was No. 4, outselling both the Tesla Model S and Model X. 

While sales of EVs are increasing, hybrid sales are increasing more quickly, according to the Cox Automotive analysis. Sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles jumped by 106% in Q1. Toyota, a hybrid pioneer, delivered most of that growth, selling 124,449 electrified vehicles in Q1, up from 49,576 in Q1 2020. Nearly 25% of new Toyota vehicles are now hybrids. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is now the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., with sales of 32,263 vehicles in the first quarter. The new Toyota Sienna minivan, which is available exclusively as a hybrid, is No. 2 with sales of 26,044.   

In all, there are more than 60 different hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles now available in the U.S. Honda is the No.2 hybrid maker, with more than 22,000 hybrids sold in Q1. Honda’s electrified tally was 7.1% of its total Q1 sales volume, up from 3.5% in Q1 2020. Ford is the No. 3 player with more than 18,000 hybrids sold, including 7,176 F-Series pickups. Volvo sold more than 2,800 electrified vehicles in the first quarter, accounting for 11.5% of the brand’s total sales in Q1.

“Electrified vehicle growth in the U.S. and around the world is shining a spotlight on battery development and sourcing,” said Cox Automotive Executive Analyst Michelle Krebs. “As the industry builds more vehicles with battery packs, sourcing of these parts and lifetime management of the battery cells is a critical hurdle the industry must clear.”

About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling, owning and using vehicles easier for everyone. The global company’s more than 27,000 team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Clutch Technologies,®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, VinSolutions®, vAuto® and Xtime®,are passionate about helping millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and many others throughout the automotive industry thrive for generations to come. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with annual revenues of nearly $20 billion.

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