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Kelley Blue Book: With more choices available, electric vehicles sales are booming


Americans bought 21.3% fewer cars in the fourth quarter of 2021 than in the fourth quarter of 2020. But we bought 72% more electric vehicles (EVs).

Electric cars remain a small percentage of the vehicles on American roads — less than 3% of the total, according to Department of Transportation statistics. But they are growing more common. EVs accounted for a record 4.5% of total sales last quarter.

New brands, types of EVs lure new EV buyers

The growth comes as automakers introduce a greater variety of electric models.

Kelley Blue Book analysts found at least 25 models of EVs with at least one sale in the fourth quarter. The Tesla TSLA, +2.08% Model Y was once again the bestselling purely electric vehicle in America, with 63,386 sold between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31. The GMC Hummer EV came in last, with 1. The Hummer, however, got in under the wire, with sales beginning just as the quarter ended. We expect to see a higher sales figure in the first three months of 2022.

See: What is EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? Here’s your guide to types of electric cars

The first electric pickups made their way into American garages in the fourth quarter, as 575 buyers took home a Rivian RIVN, +5.90% R1T. That category is set for significant growth in 2022, with the Ford F, +0.46% F-150 Lightning making its debut.

Tesla dominated the EV market—72% of all electric vehicles sold last quarter had a lightning-bolt-stylized T on the hood. But that’s underselling the now-Texas-based company’s results. Tesla dominated the overall luxury market, outselling Audi, BMW, BMW, +0.64% Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz in the U.S.

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Hybrids still outsell EVs

But hybrid vehicles with both gasoline and electric powertrains outsold pure electric cars. Sales of hybrid vehicles jumped 84% year over year in 2021, with Toyota leading the way. More than half of the nearly 1 million hybrids sold in the U.S. last year wore either a Toyota TM, +1.67% or Lexus badge.

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was America’s bestselling hybrid in the fourth quarter. More than 46,000 of us took one home.

Read: They’re paying higher prices than ever, so why are car buyers so happy?

Consumers continue to indicate that EVs are too expensive, and concerns about range and charging availability remain. Still, consideration of EVs has never been higher. Despite the obstacles, nearly half a million buyers bought into an EV in 2021. As EV availability expands and capability improves, KBB analysts predict that even more buyers will make the choice in 2022.

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