Tesla in the gunsights

Tesla in the gunsights

Legacy carmakers are investing billions on cars that will steal sales from the EV Pioneer


Tesla is flying high, at least as far as fulfilling orders is concerned. Last year the company that re-invented the electric vehicle for the 21st century sold almost 485,000 EVs in the U.S. alone, a 41 percent increase on the number it delivered in 2021, in a market where overall vehicle sales slumped 11 percent.

Tesla may have sold more EVs in the U.S. last year than the rest of the industry combined, but the names underneath it on the sales charts are interesting. Ford was the number two EV brand in America in 2022, and Chevrolet number three. Next came Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Audi. Of the 23 brands that sold EVs in America last year, only two other than Tesla were pure EV start-ups – Rivian, which came in at number seven with nearly 15,000 sales, and Lucid, which ranked 15th with almost 3300 sales.

Though off a low base, the year-onyear growth in the number of EVs being sold by established carmakers is impressive. Ford’s 2022 EV sales of 57,000 vehicles were more than double those of 2021. Kia’s 28,500 EVs was more than three times 2021’s total. The 11,400 Mercedes-Benz EVs sold was more than 30 times the number that the three-pointed star retailed in 2021.

And this is just the beginning, says Stewart Stropp, an EV specialist at J.D.Power, an American data analytics, software, and consumer intelligence company. “I think it’s a matter of these other automakers getting inventory into the system and getting manufacturing ramped up accordingly,” he told Automotive News earlier this year. “There is an appetite out across the new-vehicle shopper population for electric vehicles that are not Teslas.”

The key point is, what’s happening in America, where EVs last year totalled nearly six percent of all new vehicle sales, almost certainly indicates future consumer trends in other countries, including Australia, as more battery-powered vehicles hit the market. Let’s look at some of the EVs from legacy carmakers that Tesla should be most worried about.

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