EVs Hit 8% Share in California’s Declining New-Vehicle Market: Shaking Up Legacy Automakers

Tesla Model Y Blows doors off US bestseller Ford F-Series. But Tesla lost share within EV space against the giants it woke up.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

In California, nearly 40,000 battery-electric vehicles (EVs) – not including plug-in hybrids – were sold in the first quarter, for a share of 8.1% of all new vehicles sold in the state, according to registration data released by the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) this week. Despite the growth of EV sales, overall new vehicle sales in the state fell by 2.9% year-over-year, to 493,160 units.

Tesla’s Model Y outsold the bestselling vehicle of all times in the US overall, the F-series truck, by 6%, with 13,786 Model Ys against 12,978 F-series. Tesla’s sales in California in the quarter grew by 12.5% year-over-year, to 26,154 vehicles, according to registration data.

But Tesla lost market share within the EV space as more legacy automakers started rolling out EV models, now that they’ve gotten the memo about where growth is, with Tesla’s share falling from 70% of EVs sold in the year 2020, to 65% in Q1. EV sales are a fast-growing, increasingly large segment in the declining new-vehicle market in California:

Tesla, the only automaker that manufactures vehicles in California, sold 26,154 vehicles spread over all its models, giving it a share of 5.3% of the overall new vehicle market in Q1, up from 4.6% a year ago, putting it in 6th place overall:

About that bestselling vehicle of all times in the US, the F-series.

Ford sold 12,978 F-series trucks in California. It has for years been the bestselling vehicle in the US, outselling cars and trucks alike, but not in California. In terms of registrations in California in Q1, the F-series was outsold by four models, three of them Toyotas plus the Tesla Model Y.

In the Top Dozen, there are four Toyota models, three Honda models, and two Tesla models (number of registrations in parentheses):

  1. Toyota RAV4 (17,266)
  2. Toyota Camry (15,526)
  3. Tesla Model Y (13,786)
  4. Toyota Corolla (13,180)
  5. Ford F-series (12,978)
  6. Honda Civic 12,942
  7. Toyota Tacoma (12,515)
  8. Ram pickup (12,477)
  9. Chevy Silverado pickup (12,049)
  10. Honda Accord (10,839)
  11. Honda CR-V (10,339)
  12. Tesla Model 3 (9,731)

California is a tough market. Overall new vehicle sales peaked in 2016, same as in the US, and then began to decline, same as in the US. By 2019, they’d dropped 5.4% from the 2016 peak. Then in 2020, sales plunged another 22%.

In this environment, automakers are looking for growth where they can. In terms of revenues, they’re increasing prices and switching to more expensive models and trim packages. And in terms of growth in unit sales, automakers have now discovered EVs. All major automakers already have, or soon will have, EVs on the market.

In the Near Luxury category, Tesla sold 9,731 Model 3s. BMW’s 3-Series was the runner up with 2,634 sales. In fact, Tesla sold more Model 3s in Q1 than the other four contenders in that category combined: BMW 3-Series, Lexus ES, Mercedes C-Class, and Lexus IS.

In the Luxury Compact SUV category, Tesla sold 13,786 Model Ys, more than the next four contenders combined: Audi Q5, Lexus NX; Mercedes GLC; and BMW X3.

The Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s EV model from several years ago – which GM isn’t even trying hard to sell – was the number two vehicle in the despised subcompact car category with 2,839 vehicles, behind the Nissan Versa (2,995).

But in the Luxury and High-End Sports Cars category, Tesla’s aging Model S (889) got trounced by the BMW 5-Series (1,852), Mercedes E-Class (1,788), and the Porsche 911 (974).

Later this year and next year, the legacy automakers are going to trot out more EV models across the spectrum, in larger quantities, and with larger marketing budgets. So it should be interesting how the battle for market share will shape up, whether demand for EVs can stimulate new vehicle sales in California enough to reach a new high, or whether growth continues to fizzle going forward, and it’s just a battle for share in a declining market, with EVs growing and ICE vehicles in continued decline.

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  180 comments for “EVs Hit 8% Share in California’s Declining New-Vehicle Market: Shaking Up Legacy Automakers

  1. LK says:

    I mean it makes sense, doesn’t it? Culturally speaking, California’s rich coastal cities are all-in on Teslas as a status symbol, but the US overall is still all about Trucks. You don’t need an F-150 in most areas of Southern California, for example.

    I appreciate all this car market data, it boggles my mind to know that there are all these agencies collecting and publishing data. Must be a lot of work to not only keep track of all these sources, but also interpret and make informed decisions off them!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Wait till Ford’s 600 hp 4×4 electric pickup shows up!

      • Duke says:

        I placed a $100 deposit for the F-150 lightening..had to choose a Ford dealer to take delivery from. For the last week I have been harassed by the dealer by email and phone to start a ” relationship”. I will apparently have to go in to dealer to build truck and choose financing options. I would rather drink day old pig vomit than deal with a dealership. My tesla cybertruck reservation just resulted in a confirmation email and zero hassle. So while the Lightening (and Maverick) looks great, it comes with the added hassle of potentially being bent over by an unwanted dealership relationship. I’m canceling the Ford reservation and going the stick it out for cybertruck. Luckily, demand is so high for both, I don’t think I’ll have to make a final decision anytime soon. Tesla just wants to sell me a car and have it never break or need service. Ford wants to lure me in to dealership for unwanted hassles. This could be one more reason Tesla is winning – no 3rd party dealerships.

        • NelsNelson says:

          I have a 2015 C-Max hybrid that recently had its first problem. Flashing check engine light which means ignition misfire. Problem is with the ICE. Don’t drive a car when this condition occurs because you can destroy the catalytic converters. I stopped the car and had it towed to the dealer. The tow truck driver told me this was the first hybrid he had ever towed but that he had towed many Teslas.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The tow truck driver could have told you the truth: that he MOSTLY tows ICE vehicles. And that all his career as tow truck driver, nearly all the vehicles he towed were ICE vehicles.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Dealers are their own worst enemy. This is just email spam. Sure, you will need to pay for the truck, and sign documents, but you can contact the dealer — or maybe choose a different dealer? — and tell them how you want to pay for it, and take control over the process.

          If you really want a Lightening, don’t let the dealer get in the way.

          I have long abhorred the franchise system that legacy automakers HAVE to use under state franchise laws. Tesla got around it by lobbying state legislatures to make an exception for it. In most states. In some states, you still cannot buy a Tesla in the state.

        • LK says:

          The free market at work!

          The less I have to deal with salesmen spouting flowery language up my butt, the better. Hell, I walked out of a GNC the other day and left a $150 purchase on the counter because the salesmen did not know when to quit while they were ahead.

          It was when the associate started gaslighting me that I lost patience. Sure buddy, you aren’t trying to sell me more stuff when you tell me about the family of GNC products and how they are all designed to compliment each other.

        • Robert says:

          “I would rather drink day old pig vomit than deal with a dealership. ”

          I think Wolf once owned a dealership! But I agree with your general point.

        • Matt R says:

          I had to choose a dealer for my Mach-E. No spamming at all. No contact till it was on a rail car heading west. Remember, most cars are sold through franchises. Choose another dealer.

        • Turtle says:

          I’d sure like to see test drive centers, online buying and fixed prices. It would be awesome if the manufacturers just ditched the whole ancient dealership buying experience.

        • Nacho Libre says:


          “The free market at work!”

          People purchase EVs for different reasons – vanity, environmental guilt, driving pleasure or a combination of these and more.

          But EVs are not winning over ICE vehicles because of free markets. It’s a skewed market and we are paying for it.

          ICE vehicles get expensive when regulations stipulate minimum MPG for vehicles.

          OTOH, EVs get various government perks – subsidies, parking spots, HOV lane access.

          AFAIK, there are no regulations on EV manufacturers regarding recycling of batteries or regarding sustainable aquisition of battery raw materials.

        • LK says:


          Agreed, my comment was more to the point that auto-makers and other influencers in politics are working the system through lobbying or other tactics to keep a lock on their power position.

          I am not a fan of Tesla, but I am also not a fan of anti-competition laws designed to keep new entrants out of the market, forcing them to jump through certain hoops that other, earlier entrants did not have to.

          That was one major thing the internet brought: a new frontier for business, although we reached a point, starting in 2007, when the dominant online entities have been established and now engage in anti-competitive practices by simply buying them out.

          It’s even ingrained in the start-up culture — emphasizing growth at all costs just so you can get bought out and absorbed by one of the whales, taking your pay day and starting something else new (and not having to deal with the messy reality of maintaining your creation).

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          LK-your last sentence here is a gem. In my own lifetime i have been amazed and saddened that two seeming basics of a well- functioning society (‘…pick up after yourself…’, and ‘…take care of and maintain your stuff (infrastructure)’) appear to have been in constant decline (perhaps it’s only the self-regenerating mass, or entropy if you will, of history’s flywheel).

          may we all find a better day.

        • Nukem says:

          Ok, you do understand your Tesla is still made of coolant pumps, ball joints and shocks and all that “car thingy” stuff, right?
          You will have to service and replace all of those. They wear out. They break. You have a minor accident, you need to get parts and service.
          My family had a little bumper accident with the tesla X and there was nobody to fix it, nobody knew how to, no available repair parts or car parts department and no dealership to yell at somebody. There was no rental loaner, and nobody who followed up with their issues that lasted 8 weeks.
          I mean you find that good, ok.
          But I guess you are the new normal customer, who picks a car by the checkout process of the website that sells it. Good for you.

        • NBay says:

          I remember the old Ford commercials with (then highly respected) Bill Cosby where he said, “Ford wants to be your car company”.
          It was also when I was beginning to notice more and more specialized tools and fasteners requiring specialized tools available at all dealerships, but with independent mechanics struggling to keep up.

          And they still do, even though everything available to dealers like TSBs, midyear wiring and other changes, and computer programming/reprogramming data sources are required by law to be available to all. They make it as difficult as possible for anyone else to work on.

          The “rentier system” is always the preferred (any corporation) corporate model. Used to be called “monopolies”. Applies to labor and consumers…..Gilded Age 2 fast approaching.

      • JC says:

        I put my deposit down on the Lightning in ‘red’ central NY. I’ve always had an old truck for whatever. The Lighting is way too good to pass up. It’ll be my first new truck. People can hang on to the past all they want with their inferior ICE-powered trucks, I’ll be laughing every time I pass them by.

        • Jos Oskam says:

          Yeah right. The pie in the sky that you just put down a deposit for, is of course far superior to all these existing ICE trucks that have been providing reliable service for years. Dream on.

          Somebody will be laughing but I bet it won’t be you.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Jos Oskam,

          What is it about these anti-EV-ers?? Can’t you just let a dude buy what he wants? Who is dissing you here because you bought an F-150? But EV buyers are always fair game??? This crap gets really old after reading it year after year, like I’m doing here.

          Buy what you like and enjoy it, and let other people buy what they like.

        • Harvey Mushman says:

          Yeah don’t get too cocky. It’s an all new model and it’s a Ford.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Okay, folks, i’m getting way too-confused here (more than my normal confusion here, anyway)-does the “Lightning” have a less-massive model variant known as the “Lightening” with a ‘way too good’ ‘Lighting’ option? Inquiring minds wish to know…(…and i thank the gawds for being a native American English speaker…).

          may we all find a better day.

        • Jos Oskam says:

          @Wolf Richter

          Sorry to have rubbed you the wrong way here. To put the record straight, I am most certainly not a rabid anti-EV-er. I prefer to think of myself as an EV-sceptic.

          I have an engineering background and that might explain why I am always suspicious of “simple” solutions. So if everybody and their mother starts lauding the new era of EV transport, I tend to act contrarian. That’s just me, I guess.

          And yes, if somebody starts dissing people like me by writing “…hang on to the past all they want with their inferior ICE-powered trucks…” I tend to react in kind. I’m only human in that respect.

          I respect you, your knowledge and the work you do on this site and I certainly don’t want to be a spoilsport in the comments. I’ll do better next time :-)

      • Auldyin says:

        I make that 450Kw @ 746w/hp. So if you use that 600hp for an hour say, that’s 450kwh. How big a battery is that? UK house mains 3kw(4hp) or special charger 6kw-ish (8hp). Is that 75hrs to charge? Come on tech guys work it out, you’re younger than I am.
        Does anybody know what the max voltage is across the battery terminals on these EVs? Is it high enough to kill, 150v-ish. I know Tesla has thousands of cells, so the voltage could be high depending on series or parallel connection and I believe they have software control of that issue. Say its a safe 150v, that means you’ve got W=a*v, I make it 300amps in the motor cables I2R will be big so cables will have to be big and extremely hot. If a loaded motor stops turning, does it melt, does the power get cut off before it does, or does it have a separate battery powered cooling fan to blow off all that wasted energy?
        I’ll get all that detailed information in the sales brochure?

        • Wolf Richter says:


          You need to use 600 hp for an hour only if you pull a train or something, which is unlikely with a pickup.

          In normal towing — what a pickup is allowed to tow — you will only need 300-400 hp for short periods of time uphill, and then it goes downhill, and you use the regenerative braking system of that 600 hp array of motors to recapture part of the energy and recharge the battery.

        • Auldyin says:

          I know that, I was just making the point that Horses cost, in structure and energy.
          Your point about ‘a train’ is good because I’m a great railway enthusiast and railways have been the ‘Traction’ experts for nigh on 200years coming up soon. Steam gave torque at zero rpm for starting heavy loads. They skipped ICE because massive clutches were required and smooth changes were impossible.
          They went straight to hybrid diesel-electric (still there mainly) because overhead wiring could only be justified by intensive traffic costwise and batteries for a train were out of the question. They invented turbochargers and intercooling to get their power to weight ratios up for massively heavy DE plants. Although the Union Pacific steam ‘Big Boy’ was and still is the world’s biggest ever loco.
          I am definitely not anti-EV, see my post to OS below, I am anti-dishonisty and PR about renewable energy.
          For rail passengers now, they’ve got to pure electric because the traction can be spread to all wheels in the train, that’s why they go like lightening.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          “Steam gave torque at zero rpm for starting heavy loads. They skipped ICE because massive clutches were required and smooth changes were impossible. They went straight to hybrid diesel-electric..”

          Yes, almost, kinda, not really, I mean… Now you sent me back to my childhood (50s-60s), when the German railway service (DB) was using a sleek beautiful new diesel locomotive that I loved. The V-200 (later called V-220 and V-221) replaced steam engines pulling express trains. I even found a Wikipedia article on it just now, which I linked below so you can look at it.

          You jogged my memory because that thing was NOT diesel-electric. It had two V-12 high-rpm diesel engines, running at up to 1,500 rpm, each with about 1,100 hp, for 2,200 hp total.

          The locomotive had a hydraulic transmission, with four hydraulic gears. This was the first big diesel-hydraulic locomotive in the world – a masterpiece of German engineering (Mercedes motors) that was unnecessarily complex and ended up requiring a lot of maintenance … 24 cylinders to deal with per locomotive, who would have thought, hahahaha.

          So here is what jogged my memory: when you rode in the train and the locomotive gave it its best to accelerate from the station, you could feel when it shifted gears – there was this slight nudge in the seat. You could feel it especially if you were in the car right behind the loco. You could also hear it because right before you felt it, you heard the diesels getting off the gas for a moment.

          Obviously, I didn’t know what that nudge was, but my dad, an engineer at Siemens, explained that the loco had just shifted gears.

          The loco was replaced by plain-vanilla electric locomotives as main lines were being electrified. Diesel-electrics were skipped in the process. Those lines went from steam to diesel-hydraulic to electric. Most of this happened in the span of my childhood. And those beautiful V-200s were relegated to sideline services.


        • Auldyin says:

          It’s your fault, you mentioned trains first!
          I was thinking USA. I forgot the Germans do it different. The Voith diesel hydraulic, they were so good our Western Region did a licensed copy and ran them for years (I travelled behind one).
          As they got older, as you say, maintenance went for them. They were sleek though.
          You got to direct electric first—Marshall Plan no hard feelings! No more trains.

  2. MCH says:

    EV seems like it’s going to go somewhere… in CA at least with everyone pushing it. It’ll make for a seismic shift in the auto supply chain, more copper, more lithium, yadda yadda. Whether the supply chain can handle this transition is one question. I suppose it’s also a question of whether people can pony up the cash for this stuff.

    What I’d like to know though is what has happened to the first of the Tesla S that has been released. I think we’re getting close to the decade mark on those. How are those operating at this point, if at all. Curious to see what exactly the current battery performance would be if one puts on say 12K miles a year. Then what happened to those cars that ended up in the scrapyard. Obviously, it might be a little more difficult to recycle the components if there isn’t a specific plan for dealing with all that excess lithium, and such.

    Although one could assume that there is more than enough material there worthy of recycling.

    • SwissBrit says:

      The batteries in Teslas are removable and aren’t even sold with the vehicle; you can buy them if you so desire, but it seems that most Tesla owners rent their battery in a separate agreement, meaning that maintenance and replacement is included.
      It’s possible, even probable, that none of these 10 year old Teslas have their original batteries.
      Disclaimer: this is going off a sample size of 3 Tesla owners that I know, none of whom are in the US, so feel free to point out any errors,

      • Mira says:

        Carnes News .. Electric cars in Australia as handy as an ashtray on a motorbike.
        EV’s with 200 kilometre range only useful in cities .. using home mains power .. takes all night to recharge .. if you are lucky .. when the battery storage cells have given out & need replacing .. the battery storage cell costs twice what the car costs ..
        What went wrong in the EV industry ???

        • Mira says:

          Deliberate sabotage ??

        • yxd0018 says:

          Most ev have 8year 100k miles warranty on battery in US. However damage by external force is not included. While consensus shows that ev cost more to insure, I see conflicting reports on depreciation value. Balancing between fuel + repair cost saving and monthly insurance and depreciation difference, it seems the final result depends on the batter degradation after warranty expires.
          2022 Toyota bz4x looks good and should have good quality.

        • Nicko2 says:

          “EV’s with 200 kilometre range only useful in cities”

          Ok, just googled….. 86% of Aussies live in cities. Battery technology is also increasing efficiencies an average of 2-5% per year. Honestly, what is up with the fear of the unfolding EV revolution?

        • Sailor says:

          Nothing ‘went wrong’ with the industry.
          Tesla, like all companies, exists to make money, not EVs.
          It’s making loads of money.
          What ‘went wrong’ was governments getting involved with EV subsidies, vehicle regulations, and carbon credits.
          And the same applies to a large number of industries. There are a lot of large multinational companies that make a living out of exploiting government regulations and incentives. They know practically nothing about the industries, but they know an awful lot about exploiting governments. Carillion in the UK would be a good example.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          “What went wrong in the EV industry ??”

          Nothing. But your thinking and data derailed, that’s what went wrong.

          1. 200 km = 120 miles. EVs today get 200 miles to 380 miles = 320 km to 600 km. So update your knowledge.

          2. The vast majority of Australians don’t drive thousands of miles across the Red Center on a daily basis. They live in cities and do urban things. And EVs are perfect for that.

        • Massbytes says:

          200 kilometre range or 124 miles? Try a Tesla Model Y with a 326 mile range. As stated by another poster the batteries are warranted for 8 years and will equal or outlast an ICE vehicle’s engine/transmission. The Model Y’s battery pack cost is estimated at 10 to 12K today. In 8 years, who knows. What went wrong with your post?

      • Duke says:

        In USA the battery is sold with the tesla with a very long warranty. Batteries are designed to last 300000-500000 miles. Most Tesla owners with cars that past an odometer reading of higher than 150,000 miles report that their Tesla still operates with 90 percent efficiency when it comes to the battery. Based on these metrics, the company can postulate that a Tesla with 500,000 miles on it would still be able to operate at a minimum of 80 percent efficiency. Batteries are already being recycled or put to use for solar storage after useful life in cars.

      • Auldyin says:

        Does the hire include insurance?
        I ask because the batteries are under the floor with a skin between them and the road. In UK underneaths get hit regularly with debris of various sizes unless you can swerve to avoid it. If it’s not insured you are buying a battery.

      • steve says:

        I’m afraid this in nonsense. Not a single tesla has been sold with a rental battery. You buy it with the battery end of story.

        The only none Chinese car I know of that did that was the Nissan leaf, but they dumped the idea.

        The tesla batteries have survived very well over the years due to having a good cooling/heating system, a few early cars (early leaf) has passive aircooling and it trashed the batteries. No-one does that any more.

    • Nick Adams says:

      My brother has one of the early S models, he reports only a tiny negligible amount of battery degredation since he bought it new. Heavy pedal driver, less than 10K pet year.

    • Realist says:

      Countries with Łithium deposits will have to be careful, otherwise they might be liberated.

      • KGC says:

        And why else do you think China is moving into Xinjiang and displacing the Uyghurs?

      • Massbytes says:

        Lol. You might be right!!

      • Harrold says:

        The largest production of lithium occurs just outside of Perth.

      • MCH says:


        Heh, I remember at one point I read something from NYT about large lithium deposits there. Not sure how big.

        But to save the world for climate change, we must save Afghanistan… AGAIN. heh heh

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          MCH-it’s where empires go to die. PRC’s up.

          may we all find a better day.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          There is lots of lithium in Germany too. Lithium is fairly common. But mining it is a bit unpleasant. That’s why everyone would rather be mining it in a distant country.

        • MCH says:

          Yep, the Brits, the Russians, the US, and the list goes further back in antiquity.

          China would do well to stay out of the region. The only way to bring peace to Afghanistan is… well to bring peace to it in a permanent manner.


          All mining is dirty, that’s why REE mining is done largely in China. We’d rather outsource the pollution. Let those ignorant people there eat dirt, except of course that doesn’t happen with China, instead of sticking to where they belong at the bottom of the supply chain, China as the audacity to move up.

          In the words of Greta: “HOW DARE YOU.” ?

      • Auldyin says:

        Afghanistan has the biggest deposits in the World but that liberation thing was just a co-incidence, Tesla could never have that much sway.

  3. Mike R says:

    The big luxury auto brands like Porsche, Audi, and yes even Jaguar are going to keep taking BIG chunks out of Tesla’s current market share.

    Tesla’ has far bigger problems in that the Model 3 loses money big time, while the rest of its fleet is aging super fast, and they don’t have the capital to do new models or revamp the old upside down bathtub looking SUV crossover. Meanwhile those near luxury ICE vehicles they are ‘beating with the Model3’ are phat profit margin makers for their respective big brand companies, and those phat profits will help those luxury names pump way more money into their own Super EVs, that are brand spanking new, quite modern looking, and will simply be the mainstream EV buyer choice dujour . Tesla is still basically brining in early adopter types, you don’t make money with early adopter buyers. Tesla has lost so much money and burned through so much cash, that were it not for its stock price that is super over inflated, it would have been declared insolvent long ago.
    Fords new electric pick up, will soon be blowing the doors off of any Tesla in terms of market share, even in California. As will the Rivian. In less than 3 years, Tesla will be lucky to be an also ran. And Musk will have been long gone, being the escape artist he’s always been. He just needs to get out, before the big crash in his stock, because when he leaves it’s gonna implode, and he knows it.

    • Old school says:

      I look for there to be a reality check on EV in the next ten years. It seems EVs are more of a progressive political project that may be over taken by reality.

      Saw a study from a German group that EVs are only slightly cleaner than modern IC auto if properly analyzed. In the very long term the best solution will probably win out no matter what politicians desire.

      The immediate big problem that politicians are not addressing is the unsustainable finances of the country. That will overshadow whether we are riding around in EV or IC autos.

      • LK says:

        Mass EV adoption isn’t about “the immediate big problem,” but the “long-term catastrophic” one.

        The subtext from Wolf’s post would seem to indicate that the technology (and corresponding support from infrastructure) won’t advance until the other automakers come in and bring competition to Tesla.

        Like other tech, as it improves, costs “should” come down, although I would completely agree if you were to say that all this EV talk is out of reach of every day car buyers and that IC automobiles will be around so long as they provide a far cheaper alternative.

        We’ll see how long that lasts based on the price of gas.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Old school,

        It’s so funny how you dedicated anti-EV-ers have been posting the same nonsense about EVs for the past 10 years, each time you get a chance, and each time, you sound sillier, as people just keep buying them in larger and larger numbers.

        EVs are the part of the auto business that is growing in leaps and bounds, and where all kinds of innovation is taking place, and every automakers is now spending billions of dollars on EV R&D. That’s what makes an economy hum.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Agree with OS on this one Wolf:
          OS is going by the very clear number crunching for EV and IC vehicles, SO FAR!
          That the numbers have been changing A TON, is also part of the equation.
          As a long time analyst of costs of construction, including ”logistics” for delivery from Guantanamo Bay to SF Bay, much more heavy on the latter,,,
          it is very clear that the TOTAL cost of the EVs is coming closer to the TOTAL cost of the IC vehicles every year, but will not really cross the line until we have a much greater production of electricity, OVERALL, from cost efficient ”renewables.”
          Not in any way to discourage the transition to EVs,,,

        • Wolf Richter says:


          NO ONE who buys a vehicle cares about how much it costs the automaker to manufacture. When was the last time you worried about how much your pickup cost Ford or GM to manufacture?? Suddenly, there are all these experts out there about the cost of an EV, and yet they’re clueless about the cost of manufacturing — up the entire supply chain — of their own ICE vehicle. Ten years of this kind of anti-EV nonsense is getting really tiring and boring too.

          The proof is that EV sales are BOOMING. Get used to it.

        • Old school says:

          Seems like policy makers have determined EV is the way to go and are going to subsidize it til it is competitive. That might be the correct policy.

          Governments usually are horrible at picking winners and losers. Toyota had a pretty good non subsidized solution in the Prius. But Utopia dreamers want it all powered by zero carbon. That’s going to be fine until the tough choices have to be made. We can’t even pay for the world we have now without printing fake wealth into existence. I still say within the next 5 – 10 years reality is going to slap us in the face and there will not be very many people plopping down $50,000 for wheels.

        • MCH says:


          EV tech will continue to advance without a doubt. But adaptation will be slow, largely because of the supply chain. Legacy ICE will be with us for a while. All electric adaption will take a decade or more.

          And financially, all of this cost will be fostered off onto the working class. Carbon credits and all of that has to be paid for, without that scheme, and the massive rebates for the rich with Tesla in the early days, EVs would never have happened.

          The true cost here really has been hidden, much like the carbon pollution cost with ICE. The problem is that the public isn’t well informed on either of this.

          The root cause (same as always): lack of good education, the idiotic media who wouldn’t know science if it bit them on the ass, and our nutjob politicians who seem to have a vested interest in keeping the public stupid.

        • MCH says:


          Not anti EV by any stretch, but you are starting to sound a lot like the party line here.

          I mean the next step in this progression would be how evil fossil fuel is, the history of misery they caused. (All of which is grounded in fact in one way or another). Followed shortly by why solar and wind are the way forward and why the Earth will be uninhabitable in XX years if we don’t switch NOW.

          Just saying… ?

        • Wolf Richter says:


          This irrational fake expertise that anti-EV-ers have been professing to diss the technology they know nothing about is getting to me after reading the same copy-and-paste nonsense year after year.

          And now EV sales are 8% of total sales, and by next year, it’ll be 10% and over. This stuff works, and people like it, and if you don’t like EVs, fine, don’t buy it. I’m just tired of seeing this copy-and-paste nonsense here every time there is an article on EVs.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Guess I should have been more clear:
          Wasn’t talking cost of manufacture; life cycle cost of owning and operating is the only thing of real interest to some folks, especially older than boomer folks now retired and on mostly fixed income with only small COLA (HA!) bumps.
          I would really love to see the vast majority of ”daily drivers” using EVs, if for no other reason than the choking and eye watering still experienced every time I go to see family and friends in SoCal!!!

      • Duke says:

        I live 50 miles downwind of Los Angeles. Every afternoon our air quality goes down to unhealthy levels due to ozone being produced by car emissions and hot temps. I can’t wait for clean and cheap electric cars to clean up our air. My friends have had a Tesla for 1-2 years . 95% of time they have been fine charging at home on 110 outlet. If they need more range, superchargers are on all major routes. Second car is ICE for long trips or towing. TESLA is very practical and they fight over who gets to drive it.

        • Sub says:

          This comment pretty perfectly sums up the eco movement mentality, in that its all a crossform of NIMBYism and ecoimperialism.

          The pollution gets forced on people too poor to have the political leverage to block the coal plants that power the vehicles from being built in their backyards, and there is never a discussion about how rich first worlders should reduce their energy usage, its all about global protocols that tell poor third worlders “no cheap energy for you, some Californian needs their green virtue signaling more than you need cheap food”.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          “… the coal plants that power the vehicles from being built in their backyard”

          I don’t know where you live, but in the US coal is down to 25% of the mix of electricity generation. California has zero coal plants left. Time to update your knowledge.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Where exactly would ”50 miles down wind of LA” be these days, especially when the Santa Ana winds blow, as they are doing SO much more than the many years I and family lived in LA county Dk???
          Just sad you have to continue to live there if you are not happy there IMO.
          Was there when you could not see Catalina from the eastern hills more than a few days a year…
          Was also there many years later when Catalina was visible ten times that many days EACH MONTH!!!
          In spite of the challenges and the incredible increase of ”red tape”,,, many really great increases or at least ”modulations” of the SMOG have happened since the SoCal air quality has been controlled by guv mint, etc.

        • Re: Duke, I was just thinking how much better air quality was since the 70s. Re: Sub, EVs move the source of pollution, and to be really responsible we take the lead on global climate change (then we elect a president who cancels the agreement) . It’s really up to China now, they are subcontracting off shored manufacturing. Most third world workers lack representative government and are ripe for exploitation in this post colonial global economy.

        • MCH says:


          it might take a while for LA. Seriously. Percentage of EVs in is running at probably less than 2% in CA. Wolf’s chart above not withstanding, and we can rely on its authenticity. The growth is there, but how long before all of the ICE vehicles goes away.

          To tell a story, such as it were, you can always find the right charts and data to support it. Heck, if you give me the same data set I can cherry pick off of it until it fits the narrative.

          Clean and cheap… in the local area, probably. The time it takes to get there though. Might be a while.

          The cost of doing so, meh, I don’t think anyone knows sure.

          P.S. @AB, don’t you just love how we can outsource the problem to China, and say it’s their responsibility now. Cause, you know, China BAD. But don’t screw with our iPhones.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          VNV-with all due respect, normal coastal atmospheric flow along California is north to south. Growing up in San Diego (’50’s-’60’s) with it’s relatively ‘clean’ air, i remember on more than one day the REALLY bad smogs from the westward LA basin moving down the littoral, and pushing into the various small estuaries as well as the San Diego River valley. Emissions technology has greatly helped that situation, but in many ways has been offset by the relentless influx/expansion of population over the same time period.

          may we all find a better day.

        • Shinji says:

          Isn’t California ALWAYS in an electricity deficit and imports a large amount of it from surrounding states?

          Isn’t that electricity mainly from fossil fuels?

          Also, not familiar with all all aspects of the US , but I don’t know of any other industry that has its customers getting a tax credit or cash payment from the government for buying a product………..

          People that buy gasoline sure don’t get a tax credit or payment from the government when they buy it.

          Not only that the tax credits can only be used by people that pay enough tax to use them thus making the lower income people pay for the richer peoples’ purchases.

          Sounds like the ‘American Way’ to me……..

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Federal tax credits for Tesla and GM vehicles are finished. Gone. Time to update your knowledge. California imports some of its electricity, much of it from hydro power projects in the Pacific Northwest. It also has some deals with gas-fired generators and wind and solar generators. A lot of crude oil is drilled on public land (taxpayer owns it), and the royalties are minuscule. Biden put a halt to the practice for now. This is a taxpayer subsidy for oil companies.

        • Shinji says:

          Well that’s great to here that the tax incentives for buyers of Tesla and GM cars are gone.

          Then that leaves Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Ford, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, and all the others.

          California imports about 30% (is that what one in the USA calls ‘some’?) of its electricity and if it depends on hydro, it is going to be in trouble with the drought in the West of the USA.

          And even I know the difference between a subsidy given to a company and a tax credit or cash payment given to the buyer of a company product.

      • Auldyin says:

        EV’s make great sense if you run them 100% by non-thermal energy, It’s not the EV’s that are the scam. It’s the ‘myth’ that there can ever be enough energy from panels or windmills to fulfill all the energy demands currently met by thermal. EV’s make sense with Atomic or Fusion power at the other end of the cables but the Greens won’t let you have that either. There’s another agenda here and it’s about winding back the industrial revolution which some folks never liked.
        In the vehicle, EV’s are superior in every way because they generate torque at zero rpm like a steam engine (my favorite) and hence require no clutch or gear box. Eventually the motors will be the actual wheel once they become light enough not to need suspension. Great things are possible.
        Batteries are not good tech, but think direct pick up in cities. Trolley buses, dodgem cars, inductive energy transfer, it can be done if the will and the engineers are there.
        If it’s not renewable energy it doesn’t make sense, and that’s my beef, because you are just burning more fuel at a distance to cover the massive transmission losses in the cables.
        All basic proven engineering not like the PR BS around renewable energy. How big a windmill or solar panel would have to be on a container ship to make 30knots across the Pacific? They gave up sails when the first engine came along. Oh wait we’ll use batteries but then where will the cargo go? Electric cars are great it’s the political con that will turn people off them as reality bites on energy sources in my opinion.

    • Nicko2 says:

      Porsche, Audi, and yes even Jaguar…… those three companies have a combined market cap of less than 20% of Tesla. Tesla has nothing to worry about.

      • Beast says:

        Market cap. Hmmm?

      • roddy6667 says:

        Market cap is a number determined by the casino on Wall Street. It’s relationship to reality is often imaginary.

      • rhodium says:

        Teslas are here to stay. They fill a market niche that will get larger and more mainstream as batteries keep getting cheaper. The only thing stupid here is Tesla’s stock valuation. It will probably take into the 2030s before the last few ICE vehicles are sold, replaced by BEV and FCEV in some mix depending on the weight of the vehicle and the eventual cost benefit crossover points (barring super light and cheap solid state batteries). All auto manufacturers have been researching these technologies and they have plenty of time to get it right, especially now that there is a proven market. Tesla is here to stay, but it shouldn’t be worth more than Toyota.

        • Auldyin says:

          I think Tesla is an electric ICE. What I mean by that is, they removed the mechanicals from a traditional ICE type structure and replaced it with electrical gubbins and batteries.To that extent it’s not very advanced at all.
          A pure electric vehicle designed from the ground up could be truly revolutionary, with a different and much lighter basic structure with the suspension an intrinsic elastic part of a very light frame. Plastic injection moulding. The wheels will be actual lightweight high torque electric motors turning with the steering rather than knucle drives. Braking could be entirely regenerative with no friction rubbing and reverse polarity automatically applied for emergencies. The power to weight ratio could make a fly look slow. All these things were proposed 100 years ago but the weight and size of the batteries killed it. There was no way they could get the energy of a can of gas in anything like that size or weight. The batteries are orders of magnitude better now but still not as good as a can of gas.
          If electric becomes the norm, direct electric pick up from strips in the road becomes possible, Scalectric, inductive under road charging at traffic lights etc etc . A brave new world, why convert old ICE tech to electric when you’ve got a new sheet of paper to work on. The real genius will be the guy who solves the problem at the ‘other’ end of the cable.

      • Duke says:

        Talking about market share of EV is silly at this moment. As total EV shares soar this decade, tesla can lose lots of market share and still double sales annually.

    • Duke says:

      Tesla’s profit margin on model 3 and Y is very healthy. They aren’t burning through cash, they are building factories all over the world and producing high margin vehicles and raising prices due to demand over supply. So much inaccurate info coming from the uninformed on these comments. And Tesla can actually lower prices a lot to stay competitive as they have no dealers to share margin with.

      • roddy6667 says:

        How did you get the words “profit” and “Tesla” into the same sentence?

        • Duke says:

          Tesla has always had impressive gross margins for its cars. One of the most recent reports of an impressive gross margin, which fuels profitability, was in January when Guosen Securities analyzed the Model Y. The study broke down the total gross margin and revealed it was 29.4%, around three times the industry average that lies at between 8-10% for luxury cars.

        • Duke says:

          The company reported 2020 adjusted net income, excluding items such as $1.7 billion stock-based compensation, of $2.5 billion. Its automotive gross profit, which compares total revenue from its car business to expenses directly associated with the building the cars, was $5.4 billion, even excluding the regulatory credits sales revenue. And its free cash flow of $2.8 billion was up 158% from a year earlier, a dramatic turnaround from 2018 when Tesla was burning through cash and in danger of running out of money.

        • IronForge says:

          Duke failed to consider Carbon Credit Sales.

          Without Carbon Credit Sales, TSLA would not have able to post their “Paper” Profits.

        • MCH says:

          Easy…. Tesla is profitable.

          See. Anyone can say it. It’s not even a lie because Tesla has shown accounting profits for a few quarters now.

          That the numbers have been propped up by carbon credit is irrelevant, a profit is a profit.

          Even if Elon sold bitcoin for a profit as an “experiment.”

      • wkevinw says:

        EVs, like all smaller vehicles, have a natural niche in cities. So, the large coastal cities will have more of these.

        Trucks have several target consumers, i. work trucks ii. large “luxury” vehicles.

        When I used to look into Tesla, they lost money except for regulatory credits, but I don’t know if this is true any more. The other problem that EVs have is environmental. All those metals in production and end of life are going to add up to a bigger problem than what is currently understood by the public.

        Plastics are a good analog. Up until ~10 years ago, small particle plastics weren’t on the radar screen of environmental regulations. Now there is so much plastic in the economy, it goes everywhere- in the oceans, rivers, etc. How to mitigate this? Whoever does, will be rich.

        EV batteries are going to be like tire waste- a lot of it. ~85% of tires now are recycled or re-purposed (burned for heat value).

        • MFG says:

          The actual manufacturing process itself–of producing an EV—contributes enormously to environmental degradation:

          “input-outpout analysis suggests that the gas and electricity used by the auto industry itself, including all the component manufacturers as well as the assembly plant, accounts for less than 12% of the total.

          The rest is spread across everything from metal extraction (33%), rubber manufacture (3%) and the manufacture of tools and machines (5%) through to business travel and stationary for car company employees…

          makes sense to keep your old car for as long as it is reliable…”


        • Auldyin says:

          You didn’t see my post a while back, where I pointed out that actual movement represented less than 20% of the total high grade energy consumed from cradle to grave of a vehicle.
          I concurred with you that the best thing for the planet was to run your old car for as long as possible.
          No money in that and no ops for sanctimonious self-righteous speeches on platforms. Of course manufacturers will support your aims, when, as Wolf says the traditional industry is dying on it’s feet and new demand is promised.
          Unfortunately life is now PR and politics and not much else.

      • Seneca’s Cliff says:

        Elon, (Duke) is that you?

      • roddy6667 says:

        Gross profit is before expenses. In other words, for Tesla, a loss.

    • Seneca’s Cliff says:

      I friend of mine who I graduated from engineering school with and has spent his entire career in the auto industry told me a car-guy joke the other day. “What’s the difference between a Tesla and a Porsche Taycan? “ Ones a golf cart you drive with an I-pad, the other is a Porsche .”

    • Marc G says:

      Saw my first Rivian on the road a couple of days ago. Honestly thought it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. The front design brought back bad (but also fond) memories of the AMC Pacer. Don’t get me wrong. Love the EV revolution, but that does not mean every swing is a hit . . .

    • Massbytes says:

      @Mike R
      Nothing in your post is correct. Since when are the legacy car makers taking “big chunks” out of Tesla’s market share? It is a big market to share and they will inevitably build vehicles that will sell well. But they are now and will continue to have a very hard time staying up with Tesla. Tesla is currently building two massive factories. One in Berlin and one in Texas. Their economies of scale and their ability to execute will be very hard for the current dinosaurs to match. Tesla is anything but short of cash. I don’t know where you get that. Model 3 losing money…nope. And they did just revamp their Models S and X. So much for that assertion.

  4. Jos Oskam says:

    I see some repeat history in the making.

    In 1973 all cars ran on petroleum products. Then suddenly OPEC wanted to make a point and instituted an oil embargo. Before you knew it traffic came to an almost-standstill. By the end of the embargo in March 1974, the price of oil had risen nearly 300%.

    In 2021 EV’s need a whole lot of scarce raw materials. Cobalt, lithium, natural graphite and heavy rare earth elements, to name a few. The principal source for most of these materials is China. Yes, the same China the current administration is doing is utmost to make an enemy of. So, what happens if China stops supplying this stuff in a 1973-like embargo?

    And even if a real embargo is not in the cards, more dependence on EV’s translates into more dependence on a limited number of external suppliers… quite the contrary of the “energy independence” mantra that recently kept being bandied about. Need it be explained that this is going to have serious pricing consequences? Dare we think 300% like oil in 1973?

    The shocking reality is that the US has become completely dependent on China for innumerable products, and if China were to stop all exports to the US, the country’s economy -including the military- would grind to a halt. Massively migrating from ICEV’s to EV’s would only exacerbate that problem. Think toilet paper scarcity times a million, squared.

    For all the hype surrounding EV’s, I think that some big economic risks around this phenomenon are being seriously underestimated.

    • Old School says:

      Remembering the past age of inflation. An update on parent’s neighbors home outside of small town NC. House on market less than one week. Five offers. Sold at 190K. 20K over list and 80K over what they expected. When bubble comes to Podunk, it’s the top.

      • Nicko2 says:

        There is no bubble; the dollar’s buying power is eroding.

        • Old school says:

          Dollar is losing its buying power, but at least in this situation it’s a relatively low income purchaser buying their first home near the top with a 3.25% loan from a credit union.

          Druckenmiller says Fed is trapped between too much debt and low rates. No easy fix to get out of the mess.

        • RightNYer says:

          Old School, which was easily foreseeable. You can’t keep rates low to make it easy to service existing debt without accounting for the fact that you will encourage the incurring of MORE debt.

          The debt will never be “inflated away” because any inflation will be countered with even more borrowing.

    • California Bob says:

      re: “… the same China the current administration is doing is utmost to make an enemy of …”

      China is doing its part.

    • Duke says:

      Headline this week is a clean and cheap way to extract lithium from ocean has been developed.

  5. Phillip LaLande says:

    You say “ if China were to stop all exports to the US, the country’s economy -including the military- would grind to a halt” and I say: if China were to stop all exports to the US, China’s economy would grind to a halt.

    • fajensen says:

      It would be smarter to introduce random failures in those 12000 km JIT supply lines: Somebody manage to procure a bunch of rather expensive chips for their ECU’s, then still cannot do the final assembly and Q&A because the 0.0003 cent a piece press-fit clips for fixing the ECU circuit board in the housing now has a 12 week lead time (subject to the phases of the moon and the spin of a specific electron in the atmosphere of Uranus).

      Keeps their economy going and keeps adding costs and inconvenience on the opposition, all the while everything having totally natural causes.

    • Nicko2 says:

      China is plowing ahead with it’s new Silk Road; new shipping/rail/road links with Europe, Africa, and Asia. China has no interest in trade wars.

      • jjstickle says:

        You’ve made the perfect point! China and their forward looking allies are going to win the day while the squabbling ignoramuses of the West will descend into increasing poverty and societal degradation. It’s pathetic to watch the American mis-leadership threaten Russia, China and anyone who doesn’t bow down to them. Meanwhile, their societies are descending into anarchy and they have an increasing number of disenfranchised “citizens” living in tents under the freeway overpass and no public health care nor public transportation nor even a semblance of real public education. Mexico had better get busy building a wall to keep the desperate refugees out!

    • roddy6667 says:

      Americans have an inflated view of their importance to China. Only 15% of China’s exports go to the US. What would happen to them if they stopped all exports to America? They already know. During the peak of the recession caused by the pandemic, China’s exports dropped almost that much. Life went on. People went to work and school. Holidays came and went. Things were not too bad at all. I was there there the whole time. Nothing ground to a halt.

  6. Czech Custodian says:

    [Wolf, you may like to move this to where it better fits…]
    Completely OT: Remember Wolf’s articles on people, esp tech ppl, deserting CA to move to cheaper destinations? And I said at the time that the tech companies already have this covered and it won’t be the fountain of wealth that a lot of people think? Well, here ya go.
    From a June 10th article (The Register):
    “From next week, Facebook staffers can apply to continue working from home if their job can be done remotely. There’s a kicker: don’t expect Silicon Valley money if you’re now living in cheaper areas of the world. Salaries will be adjusted to fit your locale.”
    That’s how the tech companies roll, homies. As I said, they had this figured out **decades** ago.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I cannot move your comment. If I did, it would show up as “Wolf Richter” with tombstone around it :-]

    • Josh says:

      I’m not sure what the point is as this has been an industry norm forever. IT companies use cost of labor instead of cost of living to determine wages. I know people who have moved to Austin and taken a pay cut because they still come out ahead (between lower taxes and housing costs). What will be interesting over time is to see if the remote wages nationalize over time. In the past companies could pay you a lot less if you worked out of nowhere because their were few companies competing for that labor. If suddenly many people are remote and many companies are chasing them, the wage may start being decoupled from the location.

      • Harrold says:

        Health insurance will be a bigger driver of cost.

        Having to negotiate with 50 different insurance companies to cover your employees in the 50 states will be expensive.

  7. Bobby1971 says:

    With the rising percentage of EV in California, it will be interesting to see if the electricity grid keeps up or fall under any stress especially during the dry season.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Electric utilities have been in a declining business due to constant efforts at efficiencies (LED lights, other equipment, industrial efficiencies, offshoring of production, etc.). EVs are mostly charged up at night, when there is low demand for electricity. So this will mostly reduce costly idle capacity at night. For electric utilities, EVs are the best thing since sliced bread.

      • Jdog says:

        While there is low demand for electric at night, there is also only fossil and wind generation at night. As EV’s become more popular and electric demand increases during the night, you can bet rates will adjust accordingly.

        • James says:

          This is where work place charging (day time when solar energy is ample) and energy storage (charged from cheap solar from earlier in the day) will come in to play.

  8. Max Power says:

    There is still hope for the F-150. The upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning (i.e., the F-150 EV) is pretty awesome. From what I’ve seen so far, it seems Ford is going to have a winner with that model.

    If I was buying an EV truck I would definitely pick the F-150 Lightning over the bizarre-looking Tesla Cybertruck.

  9. Brant Lee says:

    Why are there still little or no natural gas-powered vehicles in the U.S.? I passed by a self-serve nat station the other day with the price 97 cents.

    • Duke says:

      Natural gas, with its insanely leaky delivery pipelines, is anything but clean. Methane extremely bad for global warming. Many housing developments are now built without gas to home. Renewable electricity is the future.

      • Kenn says:

        “Insanely leaky pipelines”??? Give a reference, please.
        New housing developments are all electric because it is cheaper for the developer, not because it is better.

        • Duke says:

          Estimates are 2-10% leakage from production to consumption. This is from a Forbes article but leakage is well documented by major news outlets.

          While the chief component of natural gas, methane, breaks down in the atmosphere more quickly than carbon dioxide, it has far more planet-warming potential while it is present. The gas escapes from storage tanks and vents at oil production sites, and in even greater amounts all along the natural gas production and delivery chain — rising from wells, poorly constructed processing facilities, and leaky transmission and delivery pipelines. Over a 20-year time frame, the cumulative leakage in 2012, the new study suggested, would represent as much as 7 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions — or the equivalent of about 40 percent of total carbon dioxide from coal-fired power production.

        • I think the answer is LNG.

        • Harrold says:

          Leakage of natural gas is not an issue at all.

          50% of Texas electrical grid is powered by natural gas.

          With the new taxes on renewable power generation, natural gas is soon expected to climb to 60%-70% of the power grid.

      • Seneca’s Cliff says:

        A very large percentage of the electricity currently used to power EV’s ( especially in California) is generated by burning natural gas. Except that has the additional penalty of transmission losses, and battery cycles losses when used in an EV.

        • Duke says:

          Agreed. Electricity production is far from perfect with legacy production in place. But green production is now cheaper. (Endless headlines on solar beating coal and gas on price per watt bids on new production plants) So we want to have the clean EV cars in place to absorb all the green electricity coming to market in the next decade.

          EVs are faster, cleaner, require less maintenance.

          (Also see wolf’s comment on excess electricity capacity and my comments on oil industry subsidies. )

        • Jdog says:

          Having worked in the industry, I can tell you that you will never see the end of “legacy” energy production in your lifetime.
          While so called green energy is a growing part of the picture, it is plagued with cost and reliability issues. My bet would be that technology innovation’s will make legacy production more attractive going forward, and that green energy will not be the predominant source for a long, long time..
          When you see the gigantic solar farms with huge investments, keep in mind those panels are loosing about 1% a year in efficiency, and require replacement within 25 yrs. or less depending on grid requirements. That is equivalent to having to replace a power plant every 25 yrs. Wind also has major issues as there is only a limited window of wind speed in which they can be operated. Too little and they are ineffective, and too much wind speed they need to disengage. The only truly reliable energy sources are still fossil fuel powered.

    • Old School says:

      We basically get what the top 10% of people that control business and politics want us to have and right now that is EV. I heard a smart money manager say it’s not going to happen in the time frame they are saying. It’s just impossible.

      • Why would the top 10% of people want EVs to prevail?

        Is it because they like to wage unwinnable wars? We had the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war against the flu, the war against evil saturated fats, and the war on carbon dioxide. In each case, the trivial solution to the problem is to do absolutely nothing. Legalize the drugs, let the shoe bomber blow up the airplane, let the flu kill tens of thousands of people, let people eat the deadly red meats and let carbon dioxide turn our planet into Venus.

        Why would the top 10% want us fighting unwinnable wars? Well, you gotta keep the GDP growing. As technology improves, so does factory output per worker. The only way to keep the Ponzi from collapsing (causing the rich to suddenly become poor) is to keep people busy somehow doing lots of stuff. In a winnable war, GDP drops off after the war is over.

        • Jdog says:

          It is called fear porn. The public has to be bombarded with nonsensical emergencies and threats constantly to keep them distracted, and not noticing they are being relegated to domesticated servitude. The more the government and their corporate masters screw you, the more fear porn they must generate to keep you distracted and not turning on them.
          It amazes me how well it works, and how few people ever catch on to what they are doing….

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I never understood that either. Automakers have offered dual-fuel vehicles and CNG vehicles for decades, but outside of commercial fleets, buses, etc., they have never taken off.

      • NG costs about half that of gasoline per BTU. One reason for this is NG does not have an economy of scale. Were NG available to every retail customer the price would rise. Keeping NG costs low for industry, muni government, and electrical production is more important than sharing the cost benefits with the retail driving public. The anti-NGers, site these problems, leakage, distribution, transfer, while ignoring the maze of infrastructure. and hazards with refining gasoline and CAFE standards. NG burns the same clean flame in every venue. The LNG facilities which have been built sit mostly idle. EVs have fantasy appeal, while cheap clean energy solutions sit waiting.

    • Jdog says:

      NGV’s have a problems with NOS emissions. It is difficult for them to meet the standards.

  10. Paulo says:

    In terms of revenues, they’re increasing prices and switching to more expensive models and trim packages.

    This is on all cars and trucks to the detriment of consumers who just want transportation or a work vehicle.

    It reminds me of what we call ‘restaurants’ these days. More white plate, artistically arranged garnishes, offsetting colours and textures, all to increase your ‘dining experience’. And when you leave you are still hungry, poorer, and know you got ripped off despite the trendy kraft beer or local vine product on a separate billed item list. And what really ‘works’ is that the ‘experience’ is so unique you have to make a reservation or know someone to get a table. Kind of like ‘reserving’ your vehicle purchase place in line.

    And people fall for it.

    Build the car, let the consumer experts test and evaluate, give it some time in the market for buyers to weigh in, and see where it all goes. No wonder there is a ‘house buying gold rush’ these days. Buyers are excited about flinging their money around at anything shiny, just like a crow with a decent credit score.

    Stop the world and let me off
    I’m tired of going round and round

  11. LibDIs says:

    Are there still tax incentives to buy ev’s over gas vehicles, both state and federal and local, etc in CA?

    If there are this comparison is specious at best.

    • Duke says:

      There have always been massive subsidies for oil and gas. Not to mention unpaid externalities costs(pollution).
      A conservative estimate from Oil Change International puts the U.S. total at around $20.5 billion annually, including $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives.Nov 25, 2020

    • Kenn says:

      Ohio now charges extra $100/year for hybrid vehicles, and $200/year for electric vehicles registration fees to offset lost gas tax.
      I call that a tax disincentive.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Yeah, you as taxpayer are paying for all those incentives for EVs and for Boeing and for Delta Air Lines, and since you’re paying for them, you might as well use them and buy an EV and buy a Delta ticket and fly on a Boeing.

      Have you heard the latest? Intel and other semiconductor makers are going to get many billions of dollars from taxpayers to build factories in the US. Better get upset about that now…

    • MCH says:

      Not for Teslas.

      Think that’s mostly phased out by now.

  12. NoPrep says:

    Good writeup as usual here. The problem is…EV’s are basically a fad. The total carbon footprint for manufacture and operation is only modestly lower than a standard non-EV of the same weight.

    Also, there just isn’t near enough global supply of cobalt and the other battery minerals to make more than a modest dent in overall vehicle market share. EV batteries will also never power heavy moving machines- large trucks or aircraft.

    The fundamental that the world runs on liquid fuel will not ever change. It just can’t change. With apologies to Napoleon Hill, the truth is this: what can’t possibly be achieved simply won’t be achieved.

    • Duke says:

      You assume that technology never improves.

      Also at CES, General Motors showed off its new Ultium battery system developed in partnership with another Tesla supplier, LG. Ultium is a modular battery cell architecture that uses 70 percent less cobalt by swapping the element with aluminum into the battery’s chemistry.

      • NoPrep says:

        Many things we have not yet discovered are possible Duke. But there are always material limits. Even when they have not yet been reached.

        I do agree imagination, invention, innovation can go a long way. There will always be Traffic..Winwood, Capaldi and Chris Wood.

        The percentage you’re paying is too high priced
        While you’re living beyond all your means
        And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
        From the profit he’s made on your dreams
        But today you just read that the man was shot dead
        By a gun that didn’t make any noise
        But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest, was
        The low spark of high-heeled boys

    • Wolf Richter says:


      EVs have been called a “fad” for 10 years, and now they’re 8% of sales, and the only segment in the auto business with major growth, and every automaker is investing billions of dollars in R&D and in plants, and it’s great to see all the innovation being forced on an industry that has fallen into self-satisfied sleep.

      Year after year, people keep posting the same nonsense about the grid this, and lithium that, and cobalt the other, plus the battery will never work, and EVs cannot work for all these umpteen fake reasons, and yada-yada-yada… and look what you’re seeing: booming EV sales, and EVs that are working just fine.

      • Anthony says:

        Just to prove a point about the progress of EV’s….. the New Mercedes EQS electric car will offer more than 450 miles of range

        Bit pricey at over £90,000 or $142,000 but it is a big Merc

        • Old School says:

          The old 2004 S430 has about a 700 mile range. It’s a nice car and you can pick them up cheap.

    • Massbytes says:

      EVs are anything, but a fad. They are superior to ICE vehicles in almost everyway. Where an ICE is better, is quickly being eliminated. Buying an ICE vehicle now, except for niche applications , is wasted money. Cobalt isn’t even needed for some EV batteries and that will continue to get better. Batteries are already moving into trucks, although they don’t have to 100 percent replace them to be wildly successful.

  13. DR DOOM says:

    Why didn’t the post mention EV subsidy for vehicle and charging station? Have the subsidy programs been discontinued. This post sounds like an EV advertisement.

    • Duke says:

      And your oil production hasn’t been subsidies for 100 years? See my earlier post on oil subsidies.

      • Nikdo says:

        Pure truth, oil production cannot do without subsidies.
        Look at all the oil-producing states, and their impoverished economies, destroyed by subsidizing oil production. Norway, Kuwait, Emirates … these are typical examples.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The post didn’t mention the subsidies and bailouts that Boeing or the airlines are getting or the new multi-billion dollar subsidies that the very rich semiconductor industry is getting. The post discussed auto sales in California.

      And homeowners are subsidized a WHOLE lot more than EV buyers — the tax deductions, government guaranteeing and buying mortgages, the Fed buying mortgage backed securities, the Fed repressing interest rates, and all the other homeowner subsidy programs. And the amounts are HUGE. But when I write about housing, I don’t include a list of the subsidies that homeowners are getting. What is it that makes EVs so special?

      • Jdog says:

        Homeowners are subsidized? Lest we forget that all the governments money is derived from the people? The government has no money, it only has your money. Anything it subsidizes, it must take from you before or after the fact….

        • Wolf Richter says:


          Then same with EVs. If you’re complaining about EV subsidies, you should be complaining about homeowner subsidies. I do both, occasionally, but not in articles where I discuss sales, because that’s a different topic. My comment was in reply to DR DOOM’s complaint about not mentioning EV subsidies in an article about auto sales.

        • Jdog says:

          I do not care what you call it, anytime the government is claiming to give you anything, it must take it away from you first…..

        • eg says:

          Your complete lack of understanding of fiat monetary operations is duly noted, Jdog

    • Max Power says:

      Tesla vehicles for example is no longer eligible for the federal subsidy.

  14. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Tom Cruise the Ford “Maverick” will beat OJ Ford Bronco.
    2) Model Y cannibalize Model 3 and Model S.
    3) Model Y have a longer range. It is important because drivers should
    avoid reaching max range. If they deplete the battery they destroy it.
    4) The chart above show that volume is shrinking since 2016. The higher prices go, the lower is the volume.
    5) If that cont, in the next economic downturn, there will be a buyer strike.
    Mfg will complain to the gov : where are the orders.

  15. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    Last week we had a heat wave. On the way home I passed three different Tesla’s ( in my 28 year old Mercedes diesel) chugging up the hill out of Portland with their windows open. I can only surmise they were low on juice and trying to make it home by keeping the AC off. Maybe they thought they would charge up on a public charger while at work but found they had been vandalized by the Antifa’s ( has happened quite a bit).

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You can “surmise” all you want at your own risk. I like to drive with the window open too when it’s warm. What is this nonsense about surmising that EV technology doesn’t work because someone has a window open???

      People in ICE vehicles may accelerate slowly and stick to the speed limit and get off the gas long before they have to stop in order to get 30 mpg instead of 25 mpg. That doesn’t prove that the ICE technology doesn’t work. It just shows that people are trying to cut down on their gas bill. Sheesh.

      • Seneca's Cliff says:

        It was over 95 out, and the drivers did not look like they were having fun sweating in 3 piece suits on the way home from the office. They were all doing 45 ( I know this because I passed them very slowly going 47 in my ancient diesel) in the right hand truck lane on a 6% uphill grade. I don’t think it means that the EV technology failed, it is more that these particular EV owners had poor charge planning.

  16. Micheal Engel says:

    6) China supply rare earth minerals, but the mines China own aren’t in China.

  17. Island Teal says:

    Whoa…. I’m with Seneca on that one. Prius and Tessssla drivers are notoriously trying to make it to the charger by staying “out of the red”.

  18. OutWest says:

    Finally, the EV deniers are becoming less angry about the prospect of evolving away from the ICE. It probably helps that electric bikes are everywhere now.

    • Old school says:

      I just bought a Honda 2010 Honda Elite 110 cc scooter for $1640. It is one sweet piece of engineering. Fuel injection, constant variable transmission, quiet, 50 mph and 100 mpg. Can carry 360 lbs. Whether it’s a car, lawn mower or scooter Honda can build some quality stuff. Electric bikes still are not there yet in my opinion.

  19. IronForge says:

    Greetings, Mister Richter.

    Do enjoy your Articles.

    I would qualify the “California Market as being unique”.

    California Figures are always going to be favorable to TSLA. IIRC, CA had 93-95% of USA Sales (may have shifted).

    I wouldn’t say that TSLA blew off Ford’s Doors, since the differentials were less than 10% – besides, any combination of 2 Pickups by the Big 3 on that Top Sales Listing will Outsell the 2 TSLA Models on the same Listing.

    Pick-ups and SUVs sell well in California. I’m not sure if you know; but Santa Monica (Pier of LA Beaches that serve as the Southern Tip of a Beach Drive taking one through Malibu) has been a hotbed for RAV4 Fans – especially after Toyota stopped the BEV RAV4 in 2014 – now Selling Plugin-Hybrid and Hybrid Variants. (Why they didn’t protest over at TM’s then-NorthAmericaHQ 15miles away in Torrance, IDK.)

    However, to provide some realistic perspective, the Entire National Market Figures should be disclosed as well, IMHO.

    People may want to see Conventional_ICE, Hybrid-Drive, BEV, and CNG Variant Sales for the F-150 as they compare Nationally to TSLA’s Pick-u…er, that’s still in Prototyping…(^_^) SUVs.

    Thank you; and best regards

    • Wolf Richter says:


      #1. this whole piece is about California, where I live, and it made no conclusions about the US auto market. In the text and in the title, I have said clearly that the F-series is the best-selling vehicle in the US, period.

      #2. I cover the overall US auto market separately and frequently. Most of my auto articles are about the overall US market. Rarely do I dip into the local levels. But there is no registration data for the US overall.

      #3. I cover California about 2-3 times a year. It’s the largest auto market in the US. And it’s unique and interesting, and people should know, much like Texas would be unique and interesting in different ways, but I don’t have registration data on Texas.

      #4. In the US, we have a clusterf**k of auto-industry reporting.

      In Europe, vehicle registration data are disclosed monthly by central government regulators (such as the KBA in Germany). The data includes brand, model, and power-train type, such as EV, diesel, gasoline. It’s published within days of the end of the month.

      In the US, there is no national agency that reports registrations by brand, model, and power-train within a few days of the month. None.

      Automakers report, each on their own terms, some quarterly, some monthly. Tesla doesn’t report ANY US figures. It only reports GLOBAL figures.

      In terms of registrations, it’s each state on their own, namely the DMV, and they don’t release the data. I only know how to get the quarterly registration data from the California New Vehicle Dealer Association, which comes out about two months behind the quarter.

      • IronForge says:


        I moved from NYMetro/NJexburbs to SoCal (near Torrance, actually – 15 min away from TM, HMC, and Nissan) back in 2001.

        Being Half Japanese, fluent in both, ex-Naval Officer from a Good School with Defense-Aerospace Eng/Mfg/Finance exp – would make me a shoo-in for their IT Projects.

        They rarely called me in for Interviews; and Recruiters would hang up on me when I told them I’m fluent in Japanese. The Local Hires don’t like the people from HQ, or People who can talk to them.

        SoCal was turning worse for Mfg. Soon, Nissan moved near their TN Factories, Honda Hollowed Out while moving most offices to their OH Factories, then after a few years of having a Tow Truck Driver turned Mayor allegedly turning the screws on Toyota – the City’s Largest Employer (and supporter of the Japanese American Community in LA), they moved to TX.

        Offshoring Crushed Mfg, Finance/Contract IT are good as dead.

        Real Estate, Entertainment, and Tourism are holding the Fort.

        I’m probably going to head back to Japan soon. My Widowed Mother, “Miss Daisey” – who recently entered a Nursing Home – is losing her ability to converse in English due to her Alzheimer’s (she screened for the USNavy Base’s Phone Operator in the 50s when she first applied for jobs there). My Late Father’s Siblings have already Passed On decades ago, so I’m going to try to bring her home so her Friends, Nephews, Nieces, and their Descendants can visit the Youngest born, now Oldest and Longest Living Daughter of her Generation.

        Next time you write an Calendar Year Summary of Auto Sales, I may be out of SoCal.

        Have to escape this SoCal Sinkhole…

  20. Mendocino Coast says:

    Great Post !!!
    All in All I look at these things differently all together . I like to Buy Older Vehicles for a variety of reasons (1) Low Cost, sometimes Free (2) As time has passed you have learned what vehicles are the best ones and stood the test of time. (3) You don’t need Comprehensive on your Insurance (4) My Classic Car insurance with great coverage Costs $80 for 6 Months State Farm (5) Lot’s of fun as everyone asks about your old Car and if it’s for sale by chance ? A “Status Symbol” lets hope no New Tax develops .
    So Huge Savings ending up with the same thing Basic transportation  
    People improvise and adjust to your environment and save your sanity.
    I paid $190,000 for 1 Acre with 3 buildings on it / a House /Garage shop building / & a separate Out building . Converted the Garage Shop Building to residential . Tore down the Out Building and placed a ” Free” Gazebo from C.L. upon the foundation . Now it’s worth $750,000 Easy walk to the Ocean and the golf course just behind me. Perhaps in 10 years I will get an EV if any of them are still good by Then ?
    Downside is that when I drive my 1967 Mercedes 250S sedan I think of all my Cash earning almost Zero interest at my Credit unions .??????????????

  21. Mendocino Coast says:

    Wops Typo : I don’t need Collision on my Insurance

  22. Saylor says:

    The uptick of electric bicycles in SoCal has been HUGE!. LOL…, I counted about 25% of bicycles being electric on the bike paths around here 2-3 years ago. Now…50%. And that does not include those stupid electric :Cobalt? Lithium?…wait.
    We will end up with bio batteries.

  23. Saylor says:

    Whoops…lost some text in my post …”stupid electric scooters laying all around the parks after a weekend.”

    And…, if life allows me I am aiming at making my sailboat ALL electric. No propane, no diesel. Waiting for batteries to improve and hoping I can afford them.

  24. SocalJim says:

    I have homes in wealthy areas on the east and west coast.

    On the west coast, to me, it seems Tesla and Range Rover dominate the rich areas. Quite a few Audis, MBZ, Porsche, and BMW.

    On the east coast, it is the same with one major difference … far fewer Teslas.

    People say that is because EVs suck in the winter … the range is far far lower when the weather gets below freezing, especially at the 0 mark. I just don’t see a solution to this. Why would anyone in Wellesley MA or Greenwich, CT want a Tesla when it is cold half of the year?

    • Duke says:

      Check out teslas unique heat pump valve in newer models. Pre heating the battery at home and heat pump mitigate winter range problems.

      • SocalJim says:

        I know a guy who has a 2018 Model S. He tells me when driving in heavy traffic from lower manhattan to greenwich on a cold winter day uses most of the charge.

        • Massbytes says:

          I doubt it. What is that 34 miles? I have a 2017 Model S that I drive move than that daily in Colorado and come no where near going through my 265 mile range. And since EVs are by far the best seller in Norway, they must do all right in the cold.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      EVs are doing GREAT in Norway, for example. And they’re doing great on the East Coast too, summer or winter. It’s just that California is a different market, dominated by Toyota and Honda, not by GM and Ford. And Tesla is our homeboy here, and started selling here first.

  25. DR DOOM says:

    You should have mentioned a subsidy if the other vehicles did not have a subsidy since your post was narrow in scope. The subsidy is a critical element.

  26. George says:

    Duke, thank you for your upbeat information here as well as Wolf’s excellent analyst. I was curious if you think EV’s are transitionary or said another way, the next step before a more permanent solution appears?

    A while ago I remember reading Toyota was not that into EV’s and was using R&D for fuel cells and technology revolving around hydrogen. The electrolysis for fuel creation being readily available and such. At the time it seemed the world was getting very close to solving its transportation needs; on board re-generation being the stated goal towards true energy independence. I just wonder what your thoughts are on this technology and the advancements in hydrogen taking place today?

    • Wolf Richter says:


      I worked with fuel cells two decades ago. It was an eye-opener in terms of the difficulties with hydrogen.

      Fuel cells have been around since the 1800s. They’re great. They’ve been on the Apollo space capsule (powering the electrical system) and on the Space Shuttle. United Technologies made those. They worked superbly well. But the ran off pure oxygen and pure hydrogen in a space program where money didn’t matter.

      Hydrogen is a bitch. It’s very energy-intensive to obtain (by breaking it from other atoms). And as the lightest and smallest atom, it seeps through metals under high pressure. So you need special materials and fittings.

      Then you have to compress it massively to get any kind of energy density out of the fuel tank. For example, the Mirai’s fuel tank has a pressure of 10,000 PSI. That poses a slew of additional problems, including the equipment you need to safely refuel that tank under 10,000 PSI pressure. These are big expensive challenges to deal with for automakers, though they’re less of a problem in a space program.

  27. Mark says:

    My neighbor has a tesla. We live in a large apartment complex, with no outdoor outlets.

    I wonder what kind of gyrations he goes thru to keep it charged. I don’t see charging stations around our medium sized town. Perhaps he does it at work.

    I’d love to have an EV. It needs to be like a minivan and have long range for my frequent road trips. Otherwise I’d need a second car than that is a very expensive luxury.

  28. Marc D. says:

    Interestingly, the Model Y ranked 28th in the country in the same first quarter, with 33,628 sold. So the 13,786 sold in California were 41% of all Model Ys sold in the country.

    California’s definitely the capital of EVs in this country.

  29. Auldyin says:

    Coming back late.
    I liked your post on H2, that’s the kind of critical analysis that never seems to get into the media these days.
    On the V200, a German engineer at Siemens, that’s almost as big an accolade as a Scottish engineer at John Brown’s. Don’t you feel sorry for so many modern kids who never get to hear 2 1100hp V12 diesels screaming a 500ton train out a station and don’t have a dad who can explain to them the ‘magic’ that is going on underneath. The UK equivalent is preserved and I think running.
    My wife was secretary to the boss of a large engineering department for many years, and when he retired he gave her a heap of engineering books to pass to me. One of them was a special sleeved centenary edition by Siemens Engineering 1958 (English) with original compliments slip. I would be pleased to give you it in view of your family connection, if you can figure a way for me to send it.

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