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April 25, 2024 7:23 am

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Electric Vehicle Sales: Fact vs. Fiction in WI

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As more traditional automakers bring electric vehicles to the market, industry analysts say it's going to be a learning curve for dealerships with little EV sales experience to become effective in marketing them to customers. (Adobe Stock)
As more traditional automakers bring electric vehicles to the market, industry analysts say it’s going to be a learning curve for dealerships with little EV sales experience to become effective in marketing them to customers. (Adobe Stock)

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Friday, August 25, 2023   

The auto industry has been dealing with challenges lately, such as higher interest rates, but analysts said there are nuances, and they stressed despite some rhetoric, sales of electric vehicles are encouraging.

News headlines have surfaced about electric vehicles not moving quickly off dealership lots. For example, industry service group Cox Automotive recently estimated Ford had 113 days’ worth of inventory for its all-electric Mustang SUV model. Ford has disputed the number.

Chris Harto, senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports, said overall, EV sales are up 50% this year over last. 

“We’re really just not seeing this slowdown that everybody is talking about when you actually look at vehicle purchase data,” Harto explained.

Wisconsin has lagged behind other states in electric vehicle registrations, with data showing it ranks 35th in the nation. But the Wisconsin Policy Forum noted registrations have increased, on average, by nearly 52% each yearover the past decade. As for reports of high inventories, Harto noted the estimates exclude EV-only dealers, whose inventories are well below the industry average.

Harto acknowledged higher interest rates might eventually put a dent in sales of all vehicles, but he said it has not happened yet. Customers are still snatching up cars that were hard to find when the pandemic crippled supply chains. And he noted the public remains intrigued by the EV market. 

“Our surveys to date have showed a pretty significant chunk of the American car-buying public who are interested in buying electric vehicles, or curious about buying electric vehicles,” Harto reported.

It is an open question whether prospective buyers will take the plunge as more EV models come on board. Harto’s analysis found 70% of EV sales this year are from just nine models, all of which have a starting price under $45,000 when factoring in incentives, which is below the average new vehicle price. He suggested those models can be competitive sales-wise, as opposed to higher-priced luxury EVs.