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Americans bought more than a million electric vehicles this year

Americans purchased one million fully electric vehicles in 2023, the first time that many EVs have ever been sold in this country in a single year.

More than 960,000 purely electric vehicles had been sold through October, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. With expected sales since then, the million mark would have been passed last month.

The estimate was confirmed by Cox Automotive, which closely tracks US auto sales. These figures include only purely electric vehicles, and do not include plug-hybrids, which are sometimes included in these sorts of analyses.

The increase has been driven, in large part, by the increased variety of EV models available. By the second half of 2023, there were 95 EV models available in the US, a 40% increase over just one year. Also, in the US, the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides tax credits for electric vehicle purchases, has helped boost sales.

Electric vehicles accounted for about 8% of all new vehicles sales in the US during the first half of 2023, according to the Bloomberg NEF report. That’s still far lower than in China, where EVs accounted for 19% of all vehicle sales. Worldwide, EVs made up 15% of new passenger vehicle sales.

In 2022, China accounted for 54% of all EV sales in the world in the first half of 2023, while Europe accounted for 26%. The US, the world’s third-largest EV market, accounted for only 12%.

North America, which includes the US, still produces a higher volume of carbon emissions from road transportation than any other major global region, according to Bloomberg NEF. Globally, carbon emissions from vehicles continue to rise despite increasing EV sales. It will take until later in this decade for electric vehicles to meaningfully impact global carbon emissions, according to the Bloomberg NEF report.

“Even outside of Tesla, you’ve seen progress for Rivian and you’ve seen progress for Hyundai, Kia,” Corey Cantor, senior associate for electric vehicles at BNEF said. “You’ve seen Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and BMW having pretty solid years in the US market.”

Ford reported record EV sales in November, including record sales for the F-150 Lightning electric truck, a model for which it had earlier scaled back production.

“If you look at the market as a whole, we’re going end up above 50% growth year on year,” said Cantor. “And that’s pretty healthy, you know, given that you’re coming from a fairly high base last year.”

There have been reports that EV demand had diminished this year, but any slow-down was slight, state Cantor. Ultimately, US EV sales came in at just a few hundred thousand less than had been projected, Cantor said.

One reason for the slightly lower sales than might have been expected has to do with the shift from eager early adopter customers to more cautious ordinary car buyers, said Stephanie Valdez Streaty, director of industry insights at Cox Automotive.

Auto dealers also need to do a better job of educating their customers about the benefits and value of electric vehicles, she said.

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