Baltimore Sun

EV car sales in US climb despite high prices, waits

- By Jack Ewing

Americans are buying electric vehicles at a record pace, undeterred by rising prices and long waits for delivery, a further indication that the twilight of the internal combustion engine is on the horizon.

Vehicles that run on batteries accounted for 5.6% of new car sales from April through June, still a small slice of the market but twice the share a year ago, according to Cox Automotive, an industry consulting firm. Overall, new car sales declined 20%.

Companies like Tesla, Ford Motor and Volkswagen could have delivered more electric cars if they had been able to build them faster. The carmakers struggled with shortages of semiconduc­tors, which are even more essential to electric cars than to gasoline vehicles, while prices soared for lithium and other raw materials needed for batteries.

At the same time, the popularity of electric vehicles has taken the industry by surprise and exposed deficienci­es that could slow the transition to battery power, which is considered essential to containing climate change.

One of the lessons for Ford and other carmakers is that the switch to electric vehicles requires them to fundamenta­lly remake their factory and supply networks. To make the transition, they have begun underwriti­ng makers of advanced batteries, for example, and are dealing directly with mining companies to secure scarce raw materials. Ford is planning a $5.6 billion complex in Tennessee to build electric vehicles.

Electric cars remain much more costly than their gasoline counterpar­ts and are out of reach for many buyers, even when the fuel savings are factored in. The average price for an electric vehicle in the United States is about $66,000, compared with $46,000 for all new cars.

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