Electric Vehicle Sales Double in 2021. Can Chargers Keep Up?

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Last updated May 3, 2022
2023 Ford F150 Lightning
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Electric vehicles now make up 9% of the global market, and 4.5% of American auto sales. Estimates vary, but many analysts expect electric vehicle sales to reach 40% market share in 2030. Will their crystal ball prove correct? It’s now looking possible. New data from the International Energy Agency beat previous forecasts by 26%. In 2020, Loren McDonald of EVAdoption predicted that electric vehicle sales would make up 3.55% of the US market in 2021. With the official tally now coming in a full percentage point higher, the electric momentum is accelerating. When the chip shortage finally ends, the production of EVs will likely be prioritized by automakers. Considering the massive half-trillion dollar investments OEMs have committed to electrifying their lineups, I’m sure they’re happy to see that there’s a growing market for their future products.

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Tesla Supercharger Installations Can’t Keep Up With Incredible Demand

2022 Tesla Model Y
2022 Tesla Model Y

Tesla’s pioneering Supercharger network of DC fast chargers remains the industry standard for electric vehicle charging. With 3,476 locations, hassle-free plug-and-charge and consistent reliability, only Electrify America has come remotely close to what Tesla offers. For the past decade, Superchargers have been known for convenience and accessibility, but a few pending developments could change that. Here’s what we’re watching:

Sales Continue to Outpace Charger Installations

Tesla continues to dominate electric vehicle sales in America and abroad. In 2021, Tesla year-over-year sales grew 87% to 936,172 vehicles globally. In the United States, Cox Automotive estimates that Tesla delivered 352,472 vehicles to customers. Tesla’s 2021 sales were enough to (probably) unseat BMW as luxury sales leader in the US.

In 2021, Tesla installed 8,221 new Superchargers at 912 stations around the world. This represents 35% growth in just one year, a huge accomplishment for the EV leader. However, will it be enough? Sales have been outpacing Supercharger growth for years now. The vast majority of charging stations never see a crowd, but that could change soon as Tesla’s zero-hassle sales model and superior technology have drawn more buyers to the brand.

Tesla Opens Up Some Chargers to Non-Tesla EVs

2022 Tesla Model 3
2022 Tesla Model 3

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confused Tesla owners and thrilled non-Tesla owners when he shared the company’s intentions to open up some Superchargers to non-Tesla cars. In early 2022, several Supercharger locations in France, Norway and the Netherlands are open to all. If open access spreads to North America, Superchargers will see a flood of traffic as Ford Mustang Mach-E’s, Volkswagen ID.4’s, Hyundai IONIQ 5’s and dozens of other models gain access to America’s largest fast charging network. 

Electrify America Races to Catch Up

Something positive came out of Volkswagen’s dieselgate debacle. As part of a 2016 settlement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board, VW was ordered to spend $2 billion on something that would clean up the air. The result was the birth of Electrify America.

Electrify America Hyundai IONIQ5
2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5

After installing their first chargers in 2018, Electrify America now has 3,500 charging stations at 800 locations around the US. The big difference between Electrify America and Tesla Superchargers is accessibility. Any electric vehicle can pull up to an EA station to charge. Only Tesla models are allowed to charge at Superchargers, except for select Superchargers in Europe that are open to all.

Electrify America has its faults though. Drivers often encounter out-of-order chargers, and most vehicles are not yet compatible with the convenient plug-and-charge capability that you’ll find at Tesla Superchargers. Reports indicate that reliability is improving at Electrify America, and several automakers say their new EVs will have seamless plug-and-charge capability. 

What Does the Future Hold?

Tesla’s record growth is great news for the automaker, but the picture is more complicated for Tesla owners. Tesla Superchargers in California and East Coast hotspots already fill up during peak travel. You could argue that gas stations do too, but waiting in line to plug in and then wait another 20 minutes to charge is not the same thing. 

Fortunately, charging is about to get a lot easier in America. Public and private partnerships are currently designing a National Charging Network that will bring charging to remote locations and more American highways. The Supercharger network will continue to grow, as evidenced by the hundreds of ‘coming soon’ locations just added to the Tesla Supercharger map

Some gas stations are getting into the charging game. Why don’t more add DC fast chargers to their parking lots? DC fast charger installation is expensive. We’re talking over $100,000 in most cases. Public-private partnerships appear set on helping businesses overcome the prohibitive costs of installing chargers. That would certainly benefit a rapidly electrifying nation of drivers.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Better yet, connect with auto experts and fellow car enthusiasts at caredge.kinsta.cloud/community, where we work for YOU. 

1 Comment

  1. Pete Sutliff

    Great article. I think I’ll stay focused on hybrids for now. Didn’t the infrastructure bill that Biden signed into law include a bunch of charging stations?


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