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Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Road To 2 Million EVs on US Roads

The modern EV era started with the introduction of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf in December of 2010. Now ~8 years later, we've had many notable milestones:
  • September 2015: Global plug-in sales passed 1 million units
  • December 2016: Global plug-in sales passed 2 million units
  • November 2017: Global plug-in sales passed 3 million units
  • December 2017: Annual global EV sales passed 1 million units
  • September 2018: Global plug-in sales passed 4 million units
  • September 2018: U.S. plug-in sales passed 1 million units
Looking at the final milestone on this list (1 million EVs in the US) has led to the question of when will the 2nd million EVs be on US roads. After reading a thread of bickering EV fans, I decided to make some forecast models of my own. I've made two models, one optimistic and the other less optimistic but still with strong growth.

The first million US EVs took 7 years and 10 months to sell. For the 2nd million, the pessimistic model forecasts ~3 years, whereas the optimistic model forecasts less than 2 years (~21 months). 

Each of these forecasts is shown in the charts below. Which one do you think is more accurate? Or do you have a different forecast? 

The next couple of years will be interesting for US EV sales. There are several headwinds and tailwinds that will impact EV sales.

Let's look at the headwinds first. The EV tax credit will phase out for Tesla, GM, and Nissan. GM has recently stopped making the Chevy Volt. As a vanguard for this new era, it is sad to see the Volt retired. The US economy is the next potential headwind. Janet Yellen, Alan Greenspan, & Morgan Stanley have all stated concerns about the economy slowing in 2019 and potentially entering a recession in 2020. These are key years in our path to 2 million EVs. An econmonic slowdown would certainly impact auto sales, EVs included.

As for tailwinds, many more EVs will be coming to market over the next two years including the $35k Tesla Model 3 and offerings from Audi, Kia, Mini, Porsche, Volvo, and others. New vehicles brings more options and more buyers. We can also expect to see redesigns of the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and the Tesla Model S & X. These refreshes should bring more range, faster charging, and/or other new features. These new and refreshed models will spur interest from a larger portion of the car buying market.

How these headwinds and tailwinds play out, will determine if the trend follows closer to the optimistic or the pessimistic forecast. Either way, it will be an exciting ride as personal transportation goes through its biggest transition in 100 years.


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