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U.S. Electrical Vehicle Sales Hit 24,560 in May as Tesla Dominates

The rampant rate at which fossil fuel based industry is pumping heat trapping gasses into the atmosphere is a serious and growing problem. A problem that is best answered by a transition to clean energy. Anyone telling you something different is lying or selling the energy equivalent of snake oil.

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With atmospheric CO2 equivalents hitting 493 parts per million during 2017 (and likely ramping to 496 ppm this year), the call for a clean energy transition couldn’t be louder. 550 parts per million is enough to warm the Earth by 3 C over one Century time scales. And, over the longer term such high levels of heat trapping gasses would melt most of the land ice on Earth, raise seas by 200 feet, and cause additional warming in the range of up to 6 C.

(Tesla’s record EV production rate for the Model 3 is enabling the all-clean-energy company to dominate U.S. sales.)

With most of the world’s carbon emissions produced by fossil fuel burning in transportation, electricity generation, and industry, transitioning to non-carbon emitting energy sources in these segments is crucial to addressing ramping climate harms. And, thankfully, clean transportation in the U.S. in the form of electrical vehicles is presently making rapid gains.

During May of 2018, according to reports from Inside EVs, 24,560 electrical vehicles sold in the U.S. representing about a 50 percent growth year-on-year over 2017 and setting a new May record for EV sales. This surge in EV sales was led by the Tesla Model 3 which hit 6,250 sold during May. Adding in Model S and Model X, Tesla moved more than 9,200 electrical cars — representing nearly 40 percent of the May market.

Chevy Bolt, on the other hand, eeked out just 1,125 sales even as Chevy Volt sold 1,675. Both behind second place Toyota Prius Prime at 2,924. Chevy has talked a good game RE electrical vehicles — recently marketing the Bolt as a so-called ‘Tesla killer.’ However, Chevy’s sales force has consistently failed to deliver in volumes that are high enough to match the talk. Chevy’s Volt, a plug in electric hybrid with 52 miles of all-electric range, is likely a superior value and overall more attractive vehicle than the Prius Prime (with just 25 miles of electric range). But the new energy Prius frequently outsells the Volt by a large margin.

Other major EVs of note during May include Nissan’s Leaf — which sold 1,576 in the U.S., but is a major seller on the international market. Earlier this year, we thought the Leaf might present the Model 3 with a bit of a challenge in the U.S. But that competition did not emerge as the Model 3 rapidly hit higher and higher sales volumes.

(According to Inside EVs, U.S. plug in sales hit 24,560 during. This is nearly 50 percent growth year on year.)

Another PHEV to watch is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Pacifica recently secured a 62,000 vehicle order from Waymo. At 620 U.S. sales during May, the Pacifica also had a rather decent showing for a new PHEV. Although we’re pretty confident that it could sell well north of 2,000 if Chrysler decided to get serious.

Overall, the story is presently one of Tesla dominance. And over the coming months Tesla’s lead is likely to only lengthen as it reaches and exceeds 5,000 per month production capability.

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From Rimac’s Electric Hypercars to Volkswagen’s Big EV Spend, Everyone’s Racing to Catch up with Tesla

In a world where human-caused climate change is increasingly damaging and harmful, a global race to produce electric, zero tailpipe emissions vehicles is a positive development. And just such a global race appears to be in the offing.

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We’ve heard a lot recently about how traditional automakers are spending boatloads of cash on electrical vehicles. Every week, we see new concept cars and planned production vehicles floated to the public in an apparent effort to show competitiveness in a key emerging industry. And the vaunted term that appears to be the sought-after standard is ‘better than Tesla.’ Ironically, this is a tacit admission that Tesla is presently the first horse in what appears to be a ramping race in mass electrical vehicle production.

Rimac’s Concept Two vs the Tesla Roadster 2.0

A recent example of this trend came in the form of the electric start-up Rimac’s Concept Two. Fresh off a 30 million euro fundraising round, Rimac is planning to produce a clean electric hypercar that’s capable of edging out Tesla’s Roadster 2.0 in a number of performance parameters. To be clear, the Roadster 2.0 is a revolution in automotive engineering — leaving former ICE hypercars in the dust in practically every performance specification that matters. But typical to the presently irresistable lure to compete with (or to appear to compete with) Tesla, Rimac attempts a one-up.

(Rimac’s Concept Two is another all electric hypercar that leaves fossil fuel based vehicles in the dust. But can it outsell Tesla’s Roadster 2.0? Image source: Commons.)

Concept Two boasts a stupendous 1,914 horsepower. And its 1425 kWh battery pack can push the car from 0-60 in 1.85 seconds while achieving a top speed of 258 miles per hour. This acceleration and speed edges out Tesla’s Roadster 2.0. But only just.

Of course a big underlying question here — is how many will Rimac build and for how much of an asking price? Rimac produced another electric hyper car (with far less compelling capabilities) — the Concept One during 2013 to 2014. Eight were ultimately built. In contrast, the Roadster 2.0 is a hypercar that’s starting at around 200,000 dollars (which is rather inexpensive for a car that can blow the likes of Lamborghini out of the water) and will likely produce hundreds to thousands.

Can Legacy Diesel Volkswagen Catch Tesla by Spending Big?

Another automaker that’s trying to catch up to Tesla is Volkwagen. Globally, the world’s largest automaker, the company appears to be setting aside 50 percent of its slated investment capital in an effort to produce a massive line of electrical vehicles. Its stated goal is to have an electric version of every model and to sell 5 million EVs annually by 2025. And the company is apparently willing to spend 60 billion dollars to achieve it.

Volkswagen is also investing in not one but 16 battery production facilities. And it states that it will be producing one new hybrid, plug in hybrid, or all electrical vehicle per month by next year. These are major goals. One that is in stark contrast to the present reality in which Volkswagen currently produces just one all-electric mass market vehicle — the E-Golf. And that, admittedly capable, attractive and well-priced, EV is selling at rather lower rates than Nissan’s popular Leaf EV.

(Volkswagen’s E-Golf is presently its only all-electric model. But the company plans a big surge into the EV market over the next couple of years. Image source: Volkswagen.)

In other words, despite big investments and big stated plans, Volkswagen is presently just barely on the EV leader board, if that. This puts the company at a pole position in the EV race far behind Tesla in 2018. And major investments and innovations will be required for it to catch up.

We’ve heard big EV promises from other traditional automakers before. And those like Volvo and Ford appear to have struggled with legacy issues in their stated attempts to put EVs on a fast track. One such issue that could hamper Volkswagen is the fact that it invested heavy sums in diesel vehicle technology during the 70s and 80s. As a result, the carmaker will have to overcome a decent amount of institutional inertia to jump into an EV leadership position. Pollution and emissions scandals plaguing the company have helped to spur its EV drive. But a history of profit-making selling polluting cars may inject a degree of cynicism into the company’s leadership. So self-sabotage is something to look out for here.

If Volkswagen manages a major internal transformation and if its engineers are capable of producing market EVs with mass appeal, then it could take a huge share of the emerging EV market and surge to match Tesla sales during 2019-2021 while possibly surpassing it by 2022-2023. Perhaps. But there’s a lot of hurdles for Volkswagen to overcome before gets there, all promises and talking aside.

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