California EV sales increased again in 2022, with Tesla once again taking the lead. But could other automakers’ expanded EV sales threaten Tesla’s top-dog status?
Firstly, 2022 was another good year for zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales in California. This week, the California Energy Commission (CEC) reported 345,818 new light-duty ZEV sales for the year, including 292,496 battery-electric vehicles, 50,748 plug-in hybrids, and 2,574 fuel-cell vehicles.
The EV total represents 16% of 2022 California new-vehicle sales, continuing the momentum from mid-2022, when EVs cracked 15% of the vehicle market in California for the first time.
Tesla sold 212,586 vehicles in California in 2022, representing 73% of the EV total for the year. The automaker’s lineup also locked out the top slots. The Model 3 was the bestselling EV in California in 2022 with 94,683 sales, followed by the Model Y (93,872), Model X (13,319) and Model S (10,712).
After Tesla, the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV combined are a distant second, then the Mustang Mach-E, then Hyundai Ioniq 5. But each of those models came in at fewer than 10,000 sales for the year—even lower than the Model X or Model S individually. Ford also delivered just 2,233 F-150 Lightning pickups in California last year, despite apparent enthusiasm for that model.
Yet Tesla’s 2022 California sales figures also hint at a decline toward the end of the year. The automaker had 78% of the California EV market in Q1 2022, but 73% for the year overall. But looking at 2021 results from the same interface, it doesn’t appear that Tesla’s lead is shrinking quite yet.
Other automakers will need to significantly ramp up their efforts to meet California’s ambitious targets. The state still plans to put an end to new internal-combustion vehicle sales by 2035—if you don’t consider plug-in hybrids.
Even with that policy in place, it’s going to take a long time for the fleet to turn over. EVs currently make up just 1.7% of the light-duty vehicle population in California, according to the CEC. So gasoline and diesel vehicles will likely remain on the road long after the cutoff date for new-vehicle sales.
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