The odds are still stacked against such a purchase, but next year stands to become the greatest year yet for vehicles not entirely powered by internal combustion.
In its look at industry trends for 2018, Edmunds reveals a number of no-brainers: the passenger car segment continues its sad decline, luxury SUVs remain a massive growth market, and the amount of new car buyers choosing to lease remains static at 30 percent.
One segment, however, stands to hit the accelerator next year. Green vehicles — covering the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle segments — will break out of the micro-niche category and catapult firmly into the “niche, but approaching mainstream” realm.
In its study, Edmunds concludes green vehicles will top 4 percent of the U.S. new car market sometime in 2018. Energized in large part by the Tesla Model 3, plug-in vehicle sales are set to double next year, with the broader green segment ultimately reaching 4.4 percent of the market.
Conventional hybrids won’t benefit from the public’s newfound enthusiasm for electrification, but EVs sure will. From a U.S. market share of 0.61 percent in November 2017, electric vehicles will make up 1.7 percent of the new car landscape next year, Edmunds claims. Coupled with plug-in hybrids, sales of vehicles equipped with a charging port should surpass that of their hybrid brethren.
Still, timing is everything, and the Model 3’s bumpy ramp-up casts plenty of uncertainty over the prediction. Assuming Tesla reaches its goal of 5,000 Model 3s per week sometime in the second quarter of 2018, the numbers should hold. Helping green market share is a declining thirst for new vehicles. Edmunds predicts 16.8 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. this year, followed by another decline in 2018. According to The Detroit News, Cox Automotive sees 16.6 million vehicles sold in 2017; IHS Markit predicts 16.9 million.
Looking at last month’s sales, the green car take rate stood at 3.39 percent. Multiplying November’s volume by 12 brings an annual figure of roughly 16.6 million, similar to some predictions for 2018. If Model 3 production hits 5,000 vehicles/month over a period like November (with all other electric vehicles sales remaining the same), the EV take rate would stand at 2.15 percent.
Of course, the Model 3 isn’t the only factor. It’s the biggest, yes, but we still don’t know where Chevrolet Bolt demand will level off. There’s a new Nissan Leaf due for 2018. As well, dedicated green models like the Honda Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, and Kia Niro are casting vehicles into more than one category at a time, bolstering the broader planet-hugging segment.
Mild hybrids with 48-volt electrical systems are also poised to enter the market. Though these systems barely have enough electric grunt to propel a speeding car under electric propulsion alone (and certainly don’t come with a plug or capacious battery), they still count as an electrified vehicle. We can’t say how low Edmunds set the bar for its hybrid category.
[Image: Kia Motors]