Tesla Still Dominant, but Electric Car Competition Heats Up

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Americans bought almost twice as many electric cars in the first quarter of 2022 as they did in the first quarter of 2021, according to the latest data from Kelley Blue Book. Electric vehicles (EVs) made up more than 5% of total car sales for the first time.

Tesla Has Home Court Advantage

Tesla continued to dominate the segment. About 75% of EVs sold between January and March were Tesla products. Its Model Y SUV and Model 3 sedan made up 68% of the market by themselves.

The gap between the second-place Model 3 and third-place Ford Mustang Mach-E illustrates Tesla’s remarkable head start in the EV race. Americans bought 46,707 Model 3s and 6,734 Mustang Mach-Es during the first quarter.

Yet, Tesla’s rear-view mirror is getting crowded.

New Competition Coming

In the first quarter of 2021, Americans bought 18 different EV models. In the first three months of this year, they bought 32 different models. We expect there to be at least 50 for sale by the end of 2022.

Tesla got a years-long head start in the EV race, selling four electric car models before most automakers brought their first to market. But the competition is growing every day.

No non-Tesla EV has come anywhere close to the mindshare the now-Texas-based company commands. But Americans are growing more aware of alternatives. That could mean Tesla is in for a tougher fight than it has seen before.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5, for instance, recently won the 2022 World Car of the Year title. With unconventional styling reminiscent of a car from an 8-bit video game and pixelated headlights, it brings an offbeat attitude to the fight. It uses an 800-volt architecture rather than Tesla’s 400-volt setup, enabling it to charge faster. It’s also significantly less expensive.

The Ioniq 5 starts at $44,000. That’s not far from what the Model Y cost at its 2020 launch. But thanks to frequent price increases, it now starts at $64,990. And Hyundai vehicles are still eligible for the full federal $7,500 tax rebate no longer offered on Tesla products.

Should the Ioniq 5’s styling turn you off, the sleek Kia EV6 is built on the same platform and has many of the same virtues and more conventional sporty styling.

Here Come the Electric Pickups

Tesla also faces competitors from new types of EVs. The first electric pickup trucks have begun to reach customer driveways. In the first three months of 2022, 99 customers took delivery of a GMC Hummer EV truck, and another 43 received a Rivian R1T pickup. Ford is nearing production of its F-150 Lighting electric truck. Tesla’s own radical Cybertruck, the company says, should reach production sometime in 2023.

The increased competition seems like a threat to Tesla’s dominance. Incredibly, even with more competition than ever, Tesla’s lead on the field is growing. Tesla products made up 70% of the EVs sold in the first quarter of 2021 and 75% in the same period of 2022.

The Top 10 Best-Selling EVs in Q1:

Tesla Model Y
Tesla Model 3
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Tesla Model X
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Kia EV6
Tesla Model S
Nissan Leaf
Kia Niro
Audi e-Tron

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