Oct 5, 2022 - Economy

Most electric car buyers don't switch back to gas

Illustration of a heart-shaped EV charging cable

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People who buy electric vehicles (EVs) really like them, according to U.S. vehicle registration data, which shows most EV owners tend to buy an EV for their next car, too.

Why it matters: The data reveals a growing embrace of electric cars as automakers and the federal government pour billions of dollars into EV and battery production.

What's happening: Axios is tracking the historic shift away from gasoline by examining vehicle registration data from S&P Global Mobility. Here's a peek at the latest data:

  • Roughly two-thirds (65.3%) of EV-owning households that bought a new car in 2022 got another electric.
  • That's up sharply from the second quarter of 2021, when about 48% of EV-owning households in the market for a new car bought another EV.
  • The trend has been consistent throughout 2022, notes Tom Libby, associate director of industry analysis at S&P Global Mobility.
  • "To me, that's a very positive sign about the future of EVs," he tells Axios.

The big picture: The U.S. lags China and Europe when it comes to EV adoption, but the market is clearly shifting.

  • Consumers have lots of options to choose from these days, and more affordable models are on the way.
  • General Motors, for example, is introducing an electric version of its top-selling Chevrolet Equinox SUV with a roughly $30,000 base price.
  • Every segment of the vehicle market is going electric: cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, and delivery vans.
  • The number of EV models available in the U.S. jumped from 27 in July 2021 to 45 a year later. That number is expected to reach almost 150 by 2025, per S&P Global Mobility.

Where it stands: Tesla's Model Y and Model 3 continue to dominate. Those two models alone accounted for 51% of all new EV registrations in July (the latest available month).

  • And Tesla brand loyalty is through the roof, notes Libby — 91% of Tesla owners who bought another EV opted for another Tesla.
  • "That's an amazing statistic," says Libby. "Not only are they selling a lot, they’re keeping the owners. That’s a very powerful combination."

Yes, but: As rivals introduce new models, Tesla's U.S. market share will inevitably shrink as the overall pie grows. In fact, that's already happening.

  • Tesla had 81% of the EV market at the beginning of 2019; today it has less than 60%.
  • Tesla's third-quarter deliveries fell short of expectations due to what the company blamed on logistics challenges, but some investors are worried about slowing demand.

Between the lines: EVs accounted for 5.8% of all new cars registered nationally in July, up from 3.4% a year ago.

  • California remains the leading U.S. electric car market. In San Francisco, EVs accounted for a third of all July registrations.
  • Texas is also seeing strong EV growth in places like Austin and Dallas, where EVs accounted for 9.6% and 8.6% of July new car registrations, respectively.
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