In case you needed more convincing that buyers still like EVs just fine, sales of electric and hybrid light-duty vehicles in the U.S. rose to their highest-ever level in the third quarter of 2023, according to data released Monday by Wards Intelligence. Electric-powered vehicles (including those that are hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and purely battery-powered) made up 17.7% of all light-duty vehicle sales during that time period, while sales of gas-powered light duty vehicles fell to an all-time low of 82%.
The diverging trends were driven in part by falling prices for cleaner cars. The average cost of a battery-powered light-duty vehicle was just a hair over $50,000 in the quarter, well below their peak of $66,390 from the second quarter of 2022. That said, the numbers show that for most people, cleaner driving is still a luxurious experience — thanks in part to brands like Tesla and Rivian, battery-electric vehicles now make up 34% of the total luxury vehicle market, but are still just 2% of non-luxury sales.
For EVs to gain true mainstream adoption, those numbers will have to change. As Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo recently pointed out, most of the top EV-purchasing counties in America are among the country’s wealthiest, and existing research points to a correlation between income and EV early adopter status.
Regardless of who’s buying, though, the overall numbers are good. So far in 2023, 15.8% of light-duty vehicles sold were hybrids or EVs, up from 12.3% in 2022, and 8.5% in 2021. Numbers like these point to real momentum in the clean-driving space. As Jesse Jenkins wrote recently for Heatmap, all-electric vehicle sales have grown by roughly a 60% annualized rate for the past six quarters — that’s “fast enough to double EV sales every 14 months!”
I’m not saying EVs don’t face real obstacles in the consumer marketplace, from a lack of charging stations to partisan rancor to comically bad design. But if these numbers aren’t enough to make you feel at least a little bit of excitement, that’s on you.