The auto industry’s push into electric vehicles has gained traction this year with sales of these models growing at a faster clip than the broader U.S. car business.
While still a sliver of the overall market, sales of plug-in vehicles more than doubled in the first half of 2021 compared with last year, when the pandemic sapped sales. That far outpaced the 29% rise for total vehicle sales, according to research firm Wards Intelligence.
The biggest factor driving the gains was
continued dominance in electrics. Tesla’s U.S. sales rose 78% through June this year, according to an estimate from research firm Motor Intelligence. The increase was helped by Tesla’s Model Y crossover SUV, which has quickly become the company’s top seller since being introduced last year. Tesla is scheduled to report second-quarter financial results Monday.
Other new offerings from traditional auto makers, such as
Ford Motor Co.
’s Mustang Mach-E SUV and
ID.4, also helped push sales of plug-in electric vehicles to over 3% of the total U.S. market in May and June, the highest ever recorded, according to industry data.
Auto companies collectively are spending $330 billion over the next five years to bring more plug-in models to showrooms, according to consulting firm AlixPartners LLP.
Now, the big question looming over the car business is whether consumers are ready to buy them.
Longer driving ranges and a wider variety of body styles and price points are helping garner interest in plug-in cars from more car shoppers, dealers and analysts say. But hurdles remain, including higher sticker prices and a deficit of places to charge them.
Auto executives in recent months have said they believe consumer interest in the technology is rising and should help speed the transition.
In the U.S. market—which lags behind Europe and China in electric-vehicle adoption—executives also are encouraged by the Biden administration’s plans to support plug-in cars through charging-station investment and consumer incentives.
chief executive of global auto maker
NV, said the pace at which drivers make the switch to electrics will depend on regulations and consumer awareness.
“The more the public opinion becomes sensitive to the global-warming issue and how to fix it, the more we can expect a very strong acceleration,” Mr. Tavares said to journalists this week.
Stellantis, which owns Jeep, Ram and other auto brands, recently joined other global auto makers in outlining big investment plans for electric cars and battery plants.
General Motors Co.
, Ford and
each have said they are earmarking tens of billions of dollars on the transition during this decade.
said it is preparing to sell only electrics by 2030 but would respond to market demands.
“The EV shift is picking up speed, especially in the luxury segment,”