US electric vehicle sales to hit record this year, but still lag behind China and Germany

Nov 22, 2023, 10:09 PM

FILE - A Tesla electric vehicle is charged on May 10, 2023, in Westlake, Calif. EV sales are expect...

FILE - A Tesla electric vehicle is charged on May 10, 2023, in Westlake, Calif. EV sales are expected to hit a record 9% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. this year, according to Atlas Public Policy. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Electric vehicle sales are expected to hit a record 9% of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. this year, according to Atlas Public Policy. That will be up from 7.3% of new car sales in 2022.

It will be the first time more than 1 million EVs are sold in the U.S. in one calendar year, probably reaching between 1.3 million and 1.4 million cars, the research firm predicts.

Although the numbers show significant progress for electrification, the nation is lagging behind countries like China, Germany and Norway.

EVs reached 33% of sales in China, 35% in Germany, and 90% in Norway for the first six months of 2023, according to a BloombergNEF EV outlook published in June. These figures include both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid EVs.

In those countries, ambitious government zero-emissions targets, vehicle tax incentives and subsidies, and affordable options play a role in a consumer’s decision to adopt a plug-in vehicle.

Several factors helped boost U.S. EV adoption this year, but in a word, prices have gone down.

Tesla, the current EV market leader, dropped the prices for its popular vehicles multiple times throughout the year. This forced other automakers to try to keep up. Car companies are also now offering greater incentives on their electric models, and dealers are discounting more deeply as EV supply builds up at dealerships.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which increased tax credits for qualifying new and used EV purchases, also helped bring EV costs down for buyers, by $3,750 or $7,500, depending on certain requirements.

Electric car battery costs are also falling as critical battery materials like lithium get less expensive, making the vehicles increasingly affordable, too.

But even as U.S. EV market share grows steadily, hurdles still stand in the way for some car buyers considering electric. Early EV buyers were largely higher-income, willing to try unfamiliar technology, and more likely to be able to charge their electric vehicles at home. The auto industry needs to address disparities with these factors as it targets the next wave of EV shoppers.

For many consumers, unreliable and inaccessible public charging infrastructure, as well as the increased upfront cost of going electric, remain barriers, according to BloombergNEF. Last month, new EVs still cost on average $3,826 more than the average new car, going for $51,762 versus $47,936, Kelley Blue Book estimates.

To combat some infrastructure challenges, several major automakers have signed on to Tesla’s charging technology. Tesla has long used the North American Charging Standard for its EV plugs, and it has also had the strongest public charging network. The rest of the industry has largely operated on one called CCS, or the Combined Charging System. Incorporating Tesla’s tech will give non-Tesla EV drivers more opportunity to charge elsewhere, and alleviate charging concerns. But those changes won’t start to kick in until next year and 2025.

The industry is also grappling with concerns over an EV market slowdown. Some automakers, including Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, are scaling back on their electrification targets.

But at the same time, many non-domestic car companies are amping up their plans. Consumers can expect Chinese EV-makers such as BYD to find their way to the U.S. market in the coming years.

Several U.S. states have set target dates by which they expect vehicle sales to be majority zero-emissions. California and Washington have mandated that 100% of new vehicles sold in the state be zero-emission by 2035, while New Jersey will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by that same year.


Alexa St. John is an Associated Press climate solutions reporter. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @alexa_stjohn.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

National News

Nia Thomas stands in front of her Atlanta home on Feb. 14, 2024. Thomas was bailed out of jail by t...

Associated Press

Churches and nonprofits ensnared in Georgia push to restrict bail funds

ATLANTA (AP) — When she was behind bars in Georgia, Nia Thomas would use toothpaste to stick handwritten flyers to the wall and spread the word about community bail funds that could pay inmates’ bonds, no strings attached. “I was posting the phone numbers in everybody’s rooms, everybody’s dorms, every jail I went to,” Thomas […]

43 minutes ago

Associated Press

Alice Paul Tapper to publish picture book inspired by medical misdiagnosis

NEW YORK (AP) — The new book from bestselling author Alice Paul Tapper, daughter of CNN anchor Jake Tapper, was inspired by a near-fatal health emergency. “Use Your Voice,” with illustrations by Fanny Liem, is a fictionalized take on Alice’s hospitalization in 2021 after she experienced intense stomach pain, chills and vomiting — what turned […]

1 hour ago

FILE - From left, Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski appear in criminal court after...

Associated Press

An unusual criminal case over handwritten lyrics to ‘Hotel California’ goes to trial Wednesday

NEW YORK (AP) — A curious criminal case involving handwritten lyrics to the classic rock megahit “Hotel California” and other Eagles favorites is going to trial in a New York courtroom, with opening statements set for Wednesday. The three defendants, all well-established in the collectibles world, are accused of scheming to thwart Eagles co-founder Don […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

Family friend of Texas girl Audrii Cunningham facing charges in 11-year-old’s death, prosecutor says

A family friend of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham was in jail Wednesday as prosecutors say they plan to charge him in the girl’s death after her body was found in a river near her rural Texas home. Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons said the body of the young girl — who went missing last week — […]

11 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South L...

Associated Press

It’s an election year, and Biden’s team is signaling a more aggressive posture toward the press

NEW YORK (AP) — Occupants of the White House have grumbled over news coverage practically since the place was built. Now it’s Joe Biden’s turn: With a reelection campaign underway, there are signs that those behind the president are starting to more aggressively and publicly challenge how he is portrayed. Within the past two weeks, […]

11 hours ago

Emily Hollenbeck, a deep brain stimulation therapy patient, demonstrates an EEG device that records...

Associated Press

A pacemaker for the brain helped a woman with crippling depression. It may soon offer hope to others

NEW YORK (AP) — Emily Hollenbeck lived with a recurring depression she likened to a black hole, where gravity felt so strong and her limbs so heavy she could barely move. She knew the illness could kill her. Both her parents had taken their lives. She was willing to try something extreme: Having electrodes implanted […]

11 hours ago

US electric vehicle sales to hit record this year, but still lag behind China and Germany