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Electric vehicles projected to represent a third of US car sales by 2027

The dip in electric vehicle (EV) sales in the United States might be temporary, with projections indicating they could constitute nearly a third of new car sales by 2027, as reported in BloombergNEF’s latest electric vehicle outlook. Last year, EVs made up 10% of new car sales in the US.

In the short term, growth is modest, but a stronger momentum is anticipated as automakers like Ford, Rivian, and Tesla introduce new, more affordable EV models, and manufacturers such as Hyundai, BMW, and Toyota increase their local production capacities.

By 2027, EV sales in the US are expected to rise to 4.5 million units, compared to less than 1.5 million last year. According to BNEF’s Economic Transition Scenario (ETS), EVs could achieve 48% of new passenger vehicle sales by 2030, nearly aligning with President Biden’s 50% target, which translates to around 7.7 million EVs sold in that year.

California continues to lead the nation in vehicle electrification, having promoted EVs through purchase incentives, charging infrastructure funding, and stringent fuel economy regulations. In 2023, nearly 25% of all vehicles sold in California were electric. Under the ETS, electric cars are projected to account for 65% of new car sales by 2030 and almost 90% by 2040. The state plans to phase out conventional internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035, allowing only 20% of new car sales to be plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) after that time, potentially setting a precedent for the rest of the country.

Some automakers, like Toyota, suggest that plug-in hybrids should play a role in US vehicle electrification. PHEVs have represented 20-25% of US EV sales over the past three years, which is below the global average. BNEF's ETS does not foresee a significant change in the PHEV share of US EV sales, but they are expected to maintain around a fifth of new car sales, peaking towards the end of the decade.

Hybrid vehicles face significant obstacles

PHEVs face several challenges globally and in the US, including unfavorable public policies, limited model availability, and high upfront costs. In the US, almost half of all PHEVs were sold by Stellantis. High-volume PHEV models in the US include Jeep’s Wrangler PHEV, Toyota’s Prius, and RAV4 Prime, which offer an average of 30 miles of all-electric range, significantly less than what Chinese PHEVs provide.

The global EV market reflects similar trends seen in the US, with a slowdown in sales growth. Global electric car sales are projected to increase by 21% annually until 2027, a significant drop from the average annual growth of over 60% between 2020 and 2023. The US market lags behind China and Europe, where EV sales are expected to reach 60% and 41% by 2027, respectively.


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