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Who Says EV Sales Are Slowing? Tesla, Maybe – But Not GM, Ford, Toyota or the Koreans

by | July 2, 2024

It’s become conventional wisdom that EV sales are slowing. With one high-profile exception, the latest numbers would tell you quite the opposite is true. As data roll in for June and the second quarter we’re seeing a number of manufacturers reporting solid increases and even, in the case of two Korean brands, all-time records. There is at least one exception, however, long-time EV leader Tesla.

2021 Tesla Model S driving red

Tesla sales have now fallen for the first half of 2024.

There’s been plenty of talk about EV sales in recent months and anyone who follows social media, in particular, has likely seen reports suggesting that demand is on the decline.

There’s no question that the industry hasn’t maintained the more than eightfold increase in EV sales seen between 2019 through 2023. But, with the exception of segment leader Tesla, demand continues to rise and, for some brands, set all-time records during June.

“EV demand is still growing in the United States and we’re seeing that with new products coming to market helping draw demand to the segment,” including older offerings, said Stephanie Brinley, the principal analyst for S&P Global Mobility.

Unrealistic expectations

As recently as 2019, Americans purchased barely 150,000 EVs annually. In 2023 the number approached 1.2 million, or about 8% of the total U.S. new vehicle market, according to S&P calculations. But the larger the market grows the harder it is to maintain the same rate of growth on a percentage basis, said Brinley. And the big challenge right now is to shift from a niche made up largely of early adopters to more mainstream buyers.

2023 Kia EV6 GT front 3-4

Korean automakers reported record EV sales.

There have been “unrealistic expectations” about that transition, said Brinley, adding that EV demand “will grow in fits and spurts over the next few years, but the trajectory is up.”

June brought one of those spurts, based on preliminary numbers from those manufacturers able to access their data despite the problems at CDK. The huge data processing giant was hit by a hack late last month that crashed sales, service and backroom software used by about 15,000 U.S. new car dealerships.

Kia, Hyundai climb

Kia had a particularly good month, its EV sales setting an all-time record in June. It showed significant growth for all three of its current all-electric models, the EV6 and newer EV9 SUVs, as well as the EV version of its Niro. The EV6, by far its best-selling electric, is so far up 31.3% for the full year, Americans purchasing about 11,000 of them.

Sibling Korean brand Hyundai set a record with its Ioniq 5 in June. Deliveries came to 3,755, for the month, and 18,728 for the first half of 2024, a 37% year-over-year gain. The new Ioniq 6 saw a very slight decline in June, though sales are up for the year to date.

Notably, both Kia and Hyundai saw their overall sales for June decline, meaning EVs helped prop up demand.

More EV News

Toyota, GM among other EV winners

2023 Toyota bZ4X pair

Demand for the Toyota bZ4X more than doubled last month.

Japanese automaker Toyota saw its overall mix of electrified vehicles – including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs, set a solid new record for June and the first half of 2024.

After a slow start, demand for its first all-electric model, the bZ4X, grew 119.6% for the month, and is now up 158.8% for the first half of the year.

As for General Motors, the automaker reported a modest 0.6% in overall U.S. sales during the second quarter (it only reports sales quarterly). Demand for first half was down 0.4%. But after a slow start to the year due to a variety of problems – including a months-long “stop/sale” involving the new Chevrolet Blazer – GM’s EV sales are rapidly gaining traction.

For the first half, the numbers were up a modest 6%. It delivered a total of 21,930 for the second quarter, a 40% year-over-year increase, with the Cadillac Lyriq and Chevrolet Blazer EV at the top of the list. What’s particularly noteworthy is the face that GM no longer is producing the Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV model which were its first two long-range EVs. They’re been out of production since late 2023, with replacements not due until 2025. During the first half of last year, the two Bolt models accounted for 33,659 of the 36,322 EVs GM sold.

Tesla tumbles

2024 Chevrolet Blazer EV RS - side by hills

After a troubled launch, GM scored a big jump in sales for products like the Chevrolet Blazer EV.

While a number of manufacturers have yet to reveal June and Q2 sales due to the CDK hack, there are signs EV demand was strong, industry-wide. Ford reported May was its third-best month ever for EV sales, demand rocketing 64%. Analysts credit price cuts for the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning for giving the automaker momentum.

We’ll have to wait to see how other brands perform – with the exception of Tesla which is continuing to struggle. It announced a 5.2% decline in production worldwide, at 410,831 vehicles, in the second quarter, compared with 433,371 in the first quarter of 2024.

The decline in production was offset by an increase in deliveries of vehicles held in transit or inventory globally as it experienced a slowdown in China and continuing labor unrest in Europe. The EV giant does not break out sales for individual countries but the U.S. continues to be its largest market, based on registration data, and it appears its deliveries were down in the States for the second quarter in a row.

Analysts say several factors appear to be working against Tesla, including increased competition, the automaker’s slow refresh of existing models, and CEO Elon Musk’s aggressive use of social media to promote an increasingly conservative viewpoint – which flies in the face of most EV buyers who tend to be socially liberal.


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