Despite the hype for Tesla’s Model 3, electric car sales are far from robust – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Monday, April 11, 2016

The recent hoopla around Tesla‘s planned Model 3 might lead one to think electric-car sales are surging. They’re not.

The lines of customers in front of Tesla Motor Inc.’s dealerships March 31 did underline how electric cars have a growing presence in the automotive world.

Those customers were waiting to plunk down $1,000 to reserve Tesla’s newest product, the $35,000 Model 3 sedan. Reservations topped 325,000, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted, even though the car won’t be available until late 2017.

Despite the buzz surrounding the Model 3 and Tesla’s two existing vehicles, the top-selling Model S sedan and the recently introduced Model X sport utility vehicle, electric-car sales remain a drop in the bucket for the U.S. auto industry.

Pure electric cars such as those sold by Tesla — that is, not counting hybrids that use batteries and a conventional internal-combustion engine — totaled 71,064 last year, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Assn., a trade group in Washington.

That amounted to only 0.4% of the record 17.4 million cars sold in the United States in 2015. Throw in the hybrids, and the electric-car industry’s sales totaled 498,426 last year, but that still was a mere 2.9% of the market.

In addition, the industry’s sales and market share fell from 2014, when sales totaled 570,945 and accounted for 3.5% of overall U.S. car purchases.

Nonetheless, “we have established a good foothold in the market,” said Genevieve Cullen, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Assn. “All the major automakers are investing in some form of electrification.”


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