There were 19 EVs for sale in the United States in the first quarter of 2021, plus many more hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Almost every concept that graces a showroom floor (or, lately, an over-produced livestream) has an electric angle. Automakers are promising to launch dozens of EVs over the next decade. Governors are promising to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles. And improvements in charging infrastructure and battery technology mean that the vision of an electrified future is clearer than ever.
But there's still one problem: in order for EVs to change the world, people are going to have to start driving them. To track the progress on that score, we've created this list of the 3 best-selling electric cars on the market for the first quarter of 2021. Not all carmakers provide sales data for their EVs, especially in cases where the electric models share a nameplate with a gas or hybrid model. It's possible that one or more of the vehicles in that category (which includes the BMW i3, the Kia Soul Electric, and the Polestar 2) would appear on this list if we knew the numbers, but our guess is that if the numbers were big we would hear about them.
1. Tesla Model Y
The Tesla Model Y went on sale last summer and quickly eclipsed demand for all of Tesla's other offerings. In fact, more people bought Model Ys last quarter than bought all other non-Tesla EVs combined (that doesn't include the EVs sold by Kia and Polestar, for which there is no public sales data). The Model Y drives and looks like a bloated Model 3. It can come with a two-seat third row but beware that the seats are cramped, and you'll sacrifice cargo space. The good news: The Model Y Long Range has an estimated 326 miles of range, and even the entry-level model can go an estimated 244 miles between charges.
2. Tesla Model 3
It's been almost four years since the Model 3 first hit the road, but it's still remarkable for its combination of class-leading range and a relatively low price. The Model 3's minimalist design and massive touchscreen control centre set trends for the rest of the EV market, and customers have flocked to the car. But the Model 3's massive popularity has taken a hit in the last year. The 23,110 sales that Tesla notched in the first quarter of 2021 represented a 45 per cent decline compared to the first quarter of last year. What's to blame for the big change in interest? Click through to find out.
3. Chevrolet Bolt
The Chevrolet Bolt is on the cusp of a redesign (pictured here)–and on the cusp of adding a new member to its family in the form of the Bolt EUV, a crossover. But the promise of an improved model has done nothing to slow down sales of the existing Bolt, which were up 54 per cent this quarter compared to the first quarter of 2020. The Bolt has 200 horsepower and an estimated 259 miles of range. DC fast-charging capability, which allows the Bolt to gain 100 miles of range every 30 minutes at Level 3 charging stations, is optional.