EV profitability a long way off for everybody but Tesla: Report
A study by Reuters suggests that Tesla’s sales, spurred by aggressive price cutting when it needs volume, is pushing other U.S. automakers into “unprofitable, low-volume niches.” Translation: Only Tesla has an EV business operating at the scale necessary to be viable in the long-term.
“Global automakers are launching scores of new electric vehicles in the United States, and pouring billions of dollars into new EV and battery plants. But few of them besides Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3 are selling at high enough volumes to support a full-scale assembly plant, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. EV sales data for the first six months of 2023,” the story said.
“On a brand-by-brand basis, Tesla outsold its next 19 competitors by 10 to one or more during the first half, according to S&P Global Mobility data.”
The analysis shows that Tesla sold 325,291 EV vehicles during the first six months of 2023. The closest competitor, Chevrolet, sold 34,943. Third-place Ford sold 26,849. Fourth-place Hyundai sold 20,535. In fifth, Rivian sold 17,969.
“In comparison,” the story continued, “the [Chevrolet] Bolt sold 35,000 and Ford’s Mustang Mach-E chalked up 13,600 — nowhere near enough volume to fill a typical assembly plant, which needs to operate at 80 percent of capacity or more to be profitable.”
As an example of whether the market will support “all the new battery and assembly operations launched or under construction,” the piece points to Ford’s decision to pause work on a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan.
In July, Ford forecast a full-year loss of $4.5 billion on its EV business unit—50 percent worse than projected earlier this year—and said it was slowing its EV production ramp-up.
In a media presentation, Cox Automotive said that Tesla still commands nearly two-thirds of all EV sales. No other brand has more than 10 percent of total market share. Cox estimated that EV sales will rise to 8 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales in the third quarter, up from about 6.5 percent a year ago.
Bottom line: Tesla’s competitors are serving up some quality products, but EV profitability appears to be a long way off.