Tesla’s Grip on US Looks Secure With Rivals Many Rungs Down

By Vandana Gombar, Senior Editor, BloombergNEF

Tesla may be going through a tough patch — third-quarter earnings were weaker than expected, with the number of cars delivered lower than the previous quarter — but there is no challenger in sight in its home market yet.

In fact, Tesla accounted for a solid 50% of EV sales in the US in the first half of the year, which is more than double the combined share of Detroit’s ‘Big Three’: Stellantis , General Motors and Ford. And BYD, a China-based EV maker that is Tesla’s biggest competitor globally, sells no passenger cars in the US market.

Home market

“There will clearly be a fast-growing US EV market, but the automakers who flourish may not be any of the legacy companies,” said Corey Cantor, BNEF’s lead EV analyst for the US market. “The big-name EV companies of the future in the US may very well be Tesla, Rivian, Hyundai-Kia and Volvo.”

EV sales in the US this year have already crossed a million units, surpassing the 974,000 sold last year.

The top three states for EV sales – California, Washington and Oregon – are all in the west of the country. The Golden State leads the EV sales race, with every fourth car sold being electric. California also boasts the country’s highest share of EVs in its passenger-vehicle fleet — 3.5% of all cars in the state were electric at the end of last year.

Western states

Trucking edge

Tesla will be handing over the first Cybertruck on November 30, though full-scale production of the eagerly anticipated stainless steel vehicle is still months away.

“We dug our own grave with Cybertruck,” Chief Executive Elon Musk told analysts. “Special products that come along only once in a long while are just incredibly difficult to bring to market, to reach volume, to be prosperous.”

Yet Tesla may still have managed to strike while its competitors were down.

“It is interesting that the Cybertruck launch is coming just as GM has announced a delay in its second electric-truck plant in Michigan and Ford has reduced output of the F-150 Lightning plug-in, which saw a 46% fall in sales earlier this month” said Cantor. “Both Ford with its F-150 EV and GM with its Chevrolet Silverado EV had been given a lot of room to grow with Tesla staying out of the popular pickup space until now.”

Meanwhile, Rivian has had a solid year. The company has produced two vehicles in the passenger vehicle space: the R1T and the R1S. Of these, the former will be a more direct competitor to the Cybertruck.

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