U.S. and Global EV Sales are on the Rise, More Battery Production Needed

Naysayers who forecast doom and gloom for 2017 electric vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S. and abroad were solely misguided. With total sales of 159,139 vehicles across 30 different EV offerings, U.S. EV sales numbers came in at 70% year-over-year increase in monthly sales.

EV sales

Tesla had two models over 10,000 units in the mix in 2016: the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model X. The Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Fusion Energi also sold over 10,000 units.

California’s zero-emission vehicle created half the U.S. EV sales total. In California, a certain percentage of an automaker’s sales must meet zero-emission levels, with 2015 goals of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads.

Tesla finished 2016 as the leading EV manufacturer in the USA with 29% market share and the number two global manufacturer with 76,243 sales. On January 4, Tesla announced:

Battery cell production begins at the gigafactory. Tesla and Panasonic begin mass production of lithium-ion battery cells, which will be used in Tesla’s energy storage products and Model 3. By 2018, the gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined.

January readership polls indicated that EV aficionados were most interested to see if Tesla would be able to meet its anticipated production goals.

Strong globally growth, too, has contributed to a brighter alternative energy transportation picture. Since 2014, global EV sales have more than doubled. December 2016 global EV sales exceeded 100,000, making it the best month ever. Global EV sales finished 2016 at 774,000 for the year.

Demand for lithium has been driven by the rapidly increasing EV future sales alongside an energy storage industry that is also in high demand. Lithium-ion batteries have long been used in consumer electronics, but EVs use 4,800 times the lithium of a smartphone, promising to put a strain on supplies as electrification becomes more popular. Demand for battery production, combined with the rollout of new EV models, ensures strong demand for lithium in the years ahead.

With the cost of lithium ion battery prices falling, EV sales are rising. As battery advances continue, so, too, will we get nearer to EV/ICE cost parity, which could happen between 2020-2022.

Sources: Green Tech Media and Forbes and The Fuse

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn grew up in Stafford Springs, CT, home of the half-mile tar racetrack. She's an avid Formula One fan (this year's trip to the Monza race was memorable). With a Ph.D. from URI, she draws upon digital media literacy and learning to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Google+