Soft consumer demand is likely to hinder mass adoption of battery electric vehicles. Consumer demand just isn’t there yet, says Jack Hollis, executive vice president of sales at Toyota North America.
BEVs cost too much, and the infrastructure isn’t sufficient to charge vehicles away from home, Hollis reported in a recent Automotive Press Association webinar.
“I don’t think the market is ready. I don’t think the infrastructure is ready. And even if you were ready to purchase one, and if you could afford it … they’re still too high,” Hollis told listeners.
Kelley Blue Book data shows that BEV sales in the first half of 2022 were up 75.7% over a year ago for some brands. In total, BEV sales hit 370,726 in the first half of 2022, representing a market share of 5.2% of new vehicle sales versus 2.5% a year ago.
Teslas represented about two-thirds of the new BEV sales in the first half of 2022.
Mass market brands, such as Ford and Chevrolet, will roll out new BEVs in the next few years. But to date, most new BEVs are either luxury cars or big pickups and SUVS, priced in the luxury-vehicle range, Hollis said.
The luxury vehicles come with stiff price tags. For instance, the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning starts at $39,947, with adding in options or destination charges, and before the $7,500 tax credit. Limited availability also plagues these vehicles. Ford noted that due to high demand consumers can no longer order these vehicles.
Hollis noted that reaching the Biden Administration’s goal of 50% of U.S. new vehicle sales being BEVs by 2030 is unlikely. He pointed to hybrid vehicles, which have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, to explain why.
Hollis noted Toyota and other automakers have offered hybrid vehicles for nearly 25 years, but U.S. market share remains less 10%.
“It took 25 years to get to less than 10% (market share) for hybrid — which is affordable, which is done with resources that are available,” he said. The “rhetoric” around electric vehicles is way out ahead of consumer demand, Hollis said.
“The consumer isn’t demanding it at that level. The consumer is not screaming, ‘30% or 40% by tomorrow,’ ” Hollis added. “When you start pushing consumers into things, they’re not ready for, some other consequence will occur.”