Electric vehicles: Automakers fail to dent Tesla’s lead

The demand for EVs remains high, but sale numbers show a dip

An electric car charging station.
(Image credit: Marcus Lindstrom / Getty Images)

The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web: 

"Normally a 50% increase in sales is considered very good," said Jack Ewing in The New York Times. But when it comes to electric vehicles, it’s an alarming slowdown. EVs are still selling "faster than any other major category of automobiles." They now account for 8% of the total market for new cars sold in the U.S., up from 6% a year earlier. But recently released sales numbers show growth dipping from a year ago, when EV sales were rising at a pace of about 70% year. The data cast "doubt on whether generous federal tax credits for EV buyers were working as well as policymakers had hoped," and General Motors and Ford, who have pledged billions toward manufacturing more battery powered cars, seem noticeably anxious. Ford recently paused $12 billion in planned spending on EV production, while GM has pushed back launches of a slate of electric trucks and SUVs.

Automakers’ anxiety is understandable considering how much they’re losing on each sale, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Ford lost $62,016 on each EV it sold in the third quarter. Electric pickup maker Rivian lost $30,648. But the ultimate loss leader is Lucid Motors, which reported a staggering $227,802 loss per car sold. "Who would have thought that millions of Americans would not be lining up to pay $125,000 for an EV?" I guess not the investors who bought the EV hype when Lucid reached a $91 billion market value in 2021. It seems the rubber has met the road. Lucid isn’t the only unaffordable EV, said Tim Levin in Business Insider. The average price paid for an EV in September was $50,683, with "scant electric options in the sub $40,000 range." And there is just "a dwindling supply of early adopters willing to pay up to participate in the EV revolution."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Don’t believe the panic about waning demand, said Jesse D. Jenkins in Heatmap News. "Ominous headlines about the 'slowing' EV market are more a story about Ford and GM" and their business follies. While they disregarded Tesla for years, it built such a huge EV lead that it "had ample time to bring down manufacturing costs." Then Tesla cut prices in a "defensive" move that hit rivals just as high interest rates began making buyers more cost-conscious. "These shifting market realities seem to have caught several legacy automakers off guard and forced a major refocus on reducing cost of production."

The charging problem can’t be dismissed, said David Gelles in The New York Times. On a reporting trip to Minnesota this summer, I rented an all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge crossover that "promised 200 miles in range." My destination was 154 miles away. But "after two hours of driving, the Volvo’s battery was below 50%." I pulled over to recharge but, after waiting 30 minutes, "I was dismayed to see that the battery had gained just 2%." I’d have to wait until 1 a.m. for the car to fully charge and that was the only charger within 50 miles. I eventually had to call Hertz to get the car towed. "So much for my EV road trip."

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us