Sales growth of both electric and hybrid vehicles outpaced overall market performance in the first quarter of 2021, according to an analysis of the U.S. auto market by Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book.
Electrified vehicles – automobiles featuring large battery packs and electric motors in the propulsion system – accounted for 7.8% of the total U.S. market, up from 4.8% in Q1 2020.
Electrified vehicle sales growth of 81% far outpaced industry growth. Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) – battery only – grew by 44.8% year over year, reaching nearly 100,000 sales in the quarter, a record. Sales of hybrid vehicles outpaced both the market and EVs, doubling to more than 200,000 in the quarter. The overall automobile market increased by 11.4% in Q1.
Tesla continues to dominate the EV market, which sold an estimated 69,300 vehicles in Q1 and remains the only significant automaker in the U.S. with an EV-only lineup. Tesla accounted for 71% of total EV sales in the quarter, down from 83% share in Q1 2020.
The new Tesla Model Y is the best-selling EV in the U.S., followed by the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 was the No. 1 best-selling EV in 2020, but sales in the U.S. market declined by more than 50% year over year in the first quarter of 2021. The Chevrolet Bolt was No. 3 on the EV list, with nearly 10,000 sales in the quarter. The all-new Ford Mustang Mach-E, which went on sale in December, was No. 4, outselling both the Tesla Model S and Model X.
While sales of EVs are increasing, hybrid sales are increasing more quickly, according to the Cox Automotive analysis. Sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles jumped by 106% in Q1. Toyota, a hybrid pioneer, delivered most of that growth, selling 124,449 electrified vehicles in Q1, up from 49,576 in Q1 2020. Nearly 25% of new Toyota vehicles are now hybrids. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is now the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., with sales of 32,263 vehicles in the first quarter. The new Toyota Sienna minivan, available exclusively as a hybrid, is No. 2 with sales of 26,044.
In all, there are more than 60 different hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles now available in the U.S. Honda is the No.2 hybrid maker, with more than 22,000 hybrids sold in Q1. Honda’s electrified tally was 7.1% of its total Q1 sales volume, up from 3.5% in Q1 2020. Ford is the No. 3 player with more than 18,000 hybrids sold, including 7,176 F-Series pickups. Volvo sold more than 2,800 electrified vehicles in the first quarter, accounting for 11.5% of the brand’s total sales in Q1.
“Electrified vehicle growth in the U.S. and around the world is shining a spotlight on battery development and sourcing,” said Cox Automotive Executive Analyst Michelle Krebs. “As the industry builds more vehicles with battery packs, sourcing of these parts and lifetime management of the battery cells is a critical hurdle the industry must clear.”