Nearly a quarter of all new-vehicle shoppers in the third quarter considered an electrified vehicle, either a full electric vehicle or a hybrid, according to the Q3 2021 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch report. That is the highest level of interest in electrified vehicles that the report has ever measured.
The report is a consumer perception survey that also weaves in consumer shopping behavior to determine how a brand or model stacks up with its segment competitors in a dozen factors key to a consumer’s buying decision. Kelley Blue Book produces a separate Brand Watch report for non-luxury and luxury brands each quarter, which now includes a closer look at electrified vehicles, that is electric vehicles, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.
ELECTRIFIED MODELS GAIN SHOPPERS, SALES
Of all new-vehicle shoppers, 24% considered an electrified vehicle. That is up from 20% in the second quarter. Of that total, 18% considered a hybrid, up from 15% in the second quarter, while 9% shopped for a full electric vehicle, up from 8%.
That shopping converted into sales, according to an analysis by Kelley Blue Book. While overall vehicle sales in the third quarter fell 13%, sales of electrified vehicles soared by nearly 60%. By the end of the third quarter, more than 1 million electrified vehicles had been sold year-to-date, grabbing 10% of the market, an all-time high.
Shopping and sales for electrified vehicles have been on the rise since the end of 2020 and, likely, will continue to rise. President Biden has set a goal for 50% of new vehicles being EVs or plug-in hybrids by 2030. The recently passed infrastructure package includes funding for chargers and tax credits. In addition, a flurry of new models is hitting the market in the coming months and years.
FORD MAVERICK DEBUTS IN TOP 10
Newcomers have performed well. In the third quarter, the Ford Maverick made its debut on the list of Top 10 most-considered electrified vehicles in the No. 7 position. The compact pickup truck, which has barely been launched, comes with a standard hybrid powertrain; a traditional internal combustion engine is optional. The Maverick surpassed the fully electric Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV, which made its debut on the list in the second quarter. The Mach-E has had issues with production due to the chip shortage, causing the delay of customer deliveries.
Tesla still dominates in EVs. The Tesla Model 3 was the most-shopped EV in the quarter but dropped one ranking to No. 3 on the Top 10 list. The Model Y SUV held onto its No. 4 spot. Model S fell to No. 10 from No. 8 in the previous quarter.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV fell off the Top 10 list, where it had just made its first appearance in the previous quarter. The Bolt’s fall is no surprise, considering nearly all 140,000 built have been recalled. Production at the factory that makes the Bolt was halted in August and only recently restarted to build a limited number of vehicles to be used as loaners for customers with recalls. The battery issues have been solved, but GM is purposely not restarting production, giving priority to batteries of recalled Bolts. After months of negative news, the new Bolt and Bolt EUV may get back on track in the fourth quarter as dealers begin selling them again after installing new batteries in vehicles, but the negative news cycle certainly impacted the Chevy Bolt in the eyes of EV shoppers, at least in the near term.
TOYOTA DOMINATES HYBRIDS
Toyota repeated its strong performance in hybrid shopping despite intensely low inventories. The automaker was forced to cut global production plans by 40% in September and October due to the chip shortage. Hybrid models were particularly hard hit.
Still, Toyota had the most models on the Top 10 list of most-shopped electrified vehicles, and RAV4 retained its top spot. Aside from the RAV4, the Highlander and Camry ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively. The Prius ranked No. 8.
Honda has been in a similar position with production cuts due to the chip shortage, triggering extremely low inventories, especially of hybrids. Yet, the CR-V hybrid took the No. 2 spot for most-shopped electrified vehicles, passing the Tesla Model 3. However, the Honda Accord hybrid fell off the list, after tying for tenth place in the previous quarter.