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Sales of fully electric vehicles nearly doubled in 2022. Which carmakers came out on top?

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A Tesla dealership.

Tesla still holds an estimated 60% of the EV market, but its share has been declining. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

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Last year was a rough one for the auto industry. Sales slipped to their lowest levels in over a decade. 

One bright spot, though: electric vehicles. EV sales nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022 and now account for about 5% of U.S. car purchases, according to the auto website Edmunds. But some carmakers’ strategies have been more successful than others.

Tesla is still the 800-pound gorilla in EVs, with an estimated 60% of the market. But 2022 was the year competitors made real inroads, according to Jessica Caldwell at Edmunds. 

“It’s not just a one-trick pony with Tesla,” she said. “We’re seeing their market share of all EVs start to decline significantly.”

South Korean automaker Hyundai and its affiliate, Kia, more than tripled the number of EVs they sold in 2021. Their strategy was to attract customers with futuristic, attention-grabbing cars, Caldwell said — but without the Elon Musk stigma or sticker prices. 

“People that want to have the latest and greatest, the newest technology, and they kind of want to be recognized for that,” Caldwell said.

While Korean carmakers have bet big on EVs, their Japanese competitors are sticking with hybrids. Toyota accounts for less than 1% of the all-electric market.

“They don’t see that the market is going to be that big, that fast for EVs,” said Michelle Krebs of Cox Automotive. 

Ford and GM are doing what American automakers typically do: going big, with all-electric SUVs and pickup trucks. Even if inflation means individual consumers may have less money to throw at an all-electric Chevy Silverado, Krebs said there’s another important customer to keep in mind: “The fleet business. There are government fleets, commercial company fleets.”

As of last year, the waitlist for General Motors’ all-electric Hummer was in the tens of thousands. There are also long waits for the all-electric Ford F-150 pickup truck

Since large EVs take longer to build, Detroit should consider thinking smaller, said Seth Weintraub at the EV news website Electrek.

“If they do see the equation, ‘Hey, we can make four Equinoxes with the same battery as one Hummer. Maybe we should think about that a little more,’” he said.

Weintraub said he has taken the all-electric Hummer for a test drive, and it was impressive. It just wouldn’t fit in his garage. 

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