EV Supply and Demand



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October 17, 2021 Ė EV Supply and Demand -- I originally started the evfinder website because I recognized that electric vehicles were a really great tool in the fight against air pollution.  The problem was that they were extremely difficult to find.  For most people the only options were to either purchase components and convert a gas car, or find a car that someone else had already converted. 


Itís true that the big car manufacturers all offered electric vehicles but for the most part these were only available in California and were also available for lease only.  Even if you lived in California, as I do, it was still extremely difficult to get these manufacturers to actually lease you a car.  Most of the cars were offered to fleets only, not to the regular motorist.


The manufacturers would constantly tell us that there was no demand while putting roadblocks in the way of people getting cars.  A handful of Chevy S10 E electric trucks were sold to fleets, and Ford did sell some of the Ranger EVs at the end of the lease.  Toyota even took the bold move of putting the RAV4-EV on sale after it was pointed out to their president that they hadnít sold any cars because they were lease only.  The 2002 and 2003 RAV4-EVs were based on the 1997 RAV4 platform and Toyota had only a limited number of parts left to build these vehicles.  Still, they were confident that they had enough parts to last through the end of 2003.  They sold out some time in the 1st quarter of 2003.


Things have changed quite a bit now.  Almost all manufacturers are committing to making electric vehicles and are acknowledging that they are the future.  There are a few holdouts notably Toyota and Honda who have thrown their lot into the fuel cell vehicle camp, but the rest are showing an increasing number of electric and plug-in-hybrid models.  There is also a growing number of new companies, led by Tesla, that are starting to develop and market EVs.


The problem is that demand is still outstripping supply.  This is partly because of supply chain issues, especially a shortage of chips needed for the onboard computers.  It is also due to a shortage of manufacturing capacity.  The last quarter, for example, was a record for the number of cars delivered by Tesla but even so cars are now backordered until December and people ordering many models will have to wait until the second quarter of 2022 to get their cars.


Tesla has three other vehicles that appear to be ready for production but are being held up by supply chain issues.  The Tesla Semi and the second-generation Roadster will not be very important from the consumer perspective, but they are rumored to have over a million preorders for the Cybertruck.  If normal ramp-up patterns are to be expected it will take years to fulfil these orders.


Some of the new startups are going to take a while to ramp up production.  Rivian has started delivery of the R1T pickup but also has a large order from Amazon for an electric van.  Rivian are committed to delivering 10,000 of these vans by the end of 2022 and Amazonís order is for 100,000 vans.   Understandably they have warned customers of the R1T that they are prioritizing the Amazon order so deliveries of the R1T will be slow.


GM has their own problems.  First, they had to recall over 146,000 Bolt EVs because of the potential for battery fires.  Production was halted for a while but they have found a fix for this issue.  Even so, the production halt will remain in effect until October 29.  The fix for the recall will involve replacing the battery packs on all these cars which is going to take some time.  I suspect fixing existing ownerís cars is going to take precedence over building new cars so I think it may be a while before you can walk into a Chevy dealership and buy a new Bolt.


A quick search for the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV at local dealers came up empty,


GM also have two vehicles waiting in the wings.  They have a pretty good number of orders for the Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq sold out the initial offering in just 19 minutes.  Iím not sure if these use the same batteries as the Bolt but if so, they could also be held up by the Bolt recall.  If not, it is still going to take some time to fill existing orders.


Another vehicle that has been very successful is the Ford Mustang Mach-E.  Ford was planning to build 50,000 cars in the first year and seem to be pretty much on target to meet that number.  It should be noted that half of this yearís build is scheduled to go to Europe.  Right now, if you want to order a Mach-E there is an approximately 28-week wait to get your order fulfilled. The alternative is to try and locate a car that was delivered to the dealer but not taken by the customer. These do come up from time to time but tend to come with large dealer mark-ups.


There are other cars for sale but, at least in LA, they are not in huge supply. I only found one or two examples for the Jaguar i-Pace, Kia Nero EV and VW i.4 and just a few more of the Volvo X40 Recharge. I even found just 1 Nissan Leaf at two of the local Nissan dealerships with none at the third.   


It seems to me that after 20 years we are still in a position where demand is outstripping supply. In the UK they recently had a gas shortage mostly due to panic buying. It is interesting that the number of people looking for information on electric cars also jumped.  I think we may also see this here in the US if gas prices continue to rise.  I just hope that supply can catch up to demand.

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