With the exception of Tesla TSLA, have electric vehicle sales disappointed as is commonly perceived? The answer is no. Compared to one of the most successful vehicle models of all time, the Toyota TM Prius, three electric vehicle models are ahead of trend.
Though now commonplace, when the Prius first launched in 1997, it sold just 300 vehicles (it went into worldwide sales in 2000) and didn’t exceed 20,000 sales until its fifth year in production, as shown below. Like the Volt, the Leaf and the Model S, the Prius was at the forefront of a new product category, and consumer education was an important part of the sale.
Unlike electric vehicles, the Prius did not require new infrastructure to support its adoption. Dealers did not have to convince potential purchasers to install new electrical kits in their garages, and drivers could fill up at the corner gas station like any other car. Electric vehicles have faced these challenges, and yet Chevrolet GM, Tesla, and Nissan NSANY have all exceeded Prius sales significantly, shipping higher annual unit volumes than the Prius saw in any of its first six years of production.
Validating the positive response to electric vehicles, new entrants are introducing more models, notably Mercedes DDAIF and BMW BMW. Led by Tesla, electric vehicles sales have been robust for a new product category, heralding the early days of a dramatic transformation in transportation which will not be stopped by any checkered flag.
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