20211016_bta_evs

Salesman Steve Reno stands by an all-electric KIA Niro EV that was recently puchased at Preston’s KIA in Montpelier. The dealership, like many in Vermont, currently has some hybrids but no electric vehicles on their lot.

Electric vehicle sales in Vermont are increasing in sales but only when models are available from local dealerships. In recent months, a shortage of computer chips used in all new vehicles has led to a slowdown of deliveries of cars and trucks at many car dealerships nationally and Vermont is no exception. Dealers say they have orders awaiting new vehicle arrivals.

“The EV/hybrid market for Vermont looks pretty good, though the chip shortage has complicated things overall,” said Marilyn Miller at Vermont Vehicle & Automotive Distributors Association in Berlin. “We are fortunate to have some excellent programs available in this state to provide financial assistance and support for new and used EV/hybrid purchases.”

Lauren Peterson at Cody Chevrolet in Montpelier said there were no models of the popular all-electric Chevrolet Bolt currently on her lot. Cody has sold 85 new Bolts since 2017.

Mark Alderman at Alderman Chevrolet in Rutland sees Bolt sales differently. He said the recall of the vehicle for battery fire issues slowed sales of the Bolt, which had sold well “and were well received.”

His dealership “sold 75 Bolts in 2021 until July, and was averaging just above 10 a month,” said Alderman. Bolts sell in the $30,000 to $40,000 range as “incentives make them very affordable cars.” What might hold back EV sales in general, he noted, “are apartment renters without access to an easy plug in for an EV.”

Mike James at McGee Ford in Montpelier predicted that his sales staff could sell 10-12 Ford Mustang Mach E models “if we could get them.” The car, introduced this year, was a big hit at McGee’s. “We’ve had a few of them since August and they sold immediately.” The Mach E sells for $43,000 to $51,000. The car sold to “professionals and Baby Boomers looking for comfort and performance in a vehicle with a 300-mile range,” said James.

Mike Lewis at Formula Ford in Rutland said his supply of Mach Es is depleted. “We don’t have any in stock, people are ordering and it takes three to four months to get.” This dealership has sold 10 this year, and the demand was “more than expected.”

“We could sell as many as we can get,” said Lewis. Formula Ford has eight on order expected to arrive in two to three months that are already pre-sold. The F-150 Lightning, all-electric pickup expected to arrive early next year, has already piqued interest with over 50 orders placed at Formula Ford.

Lewis categorized EV sales in Vermont as “a gradual climb percentage wise.” Miller at VADA had a different opinion. “The market is growing very fast,” he said.

Vermont currently has 16,624 hybrid and 2,981 all-electric vehicles registered according to Amy Tatko at the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

According to the agency, the top EVs sold here by make are Tesla, Nissan, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Volkswagen. The top EVs by model are the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y and the Hyundai Kona.

According to numbers available from Drive Electric Vermont published in January, the top-selling model during the past six months was the Chevrolet Bolt with 107 new registrations. This was followed by the Toyota Prius Prime (102), Tesla Model Y (73), Tesla Model 3 (54), Nissan LEAF (51), Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid (36), Ford Fusion Energi (30), Toyota RAV4 Prime (28), and Hyundai Kona (21).

There are now 300 locations with public charging for electric vehicles across the state.

Vermont has 31 DC Fast Chargers available for EVs equipped with this technology to quickly recharge in about 30-60 minutes.

Electric Vehicles are selling based on a variety of factors. Drive Electric Vermont says that EV drivers spend the equivalent of about $1.50 per gallon of gas to charge their vehicle. EVs cut vehicle maintenance costs in half, and buyers can receive up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. State of Vermont incentives amount to as much as $4,000 for income-eligible buyers. There are additional savings available from Vermont electric utilities.

Vermont has 400,000 cars registered as of fiscal 2020 according to the AOT Fact Book for 2020-21.

Rystad Energy quoting Alliance for Automotive Innovation in its first-ever quarterly report on electric vehicle sales found that between April and June 2021, EVs made up 3.8% of the total market in the United States. That was the highest quarterly percentage ever, up from 2.2% during the same quarter last year.

“We sell them as soon as we get them in. They sell themselves,” said Steve Reno at Preston’s Kia in Montpelier. Kia has the Nero and Sorento EVs. According to Reno, his dealership has sold whatever EVs it receives. “There is a market for these vehicles. I think the market will sell in the near future. The big problem is getting the vehicles,” he said.

Vermont appears to be a popular state for EVs of any type. The estimated Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Market Share through June was 7th nationally at 4.4%.

Chittenden County has the most EVs registered (1,616) and highest rate of EV ownership with about 1 EV for every 102 people. Washington and Rutland counties, while nearly the same size in population show a disparity in the number of EVs per 10,000 people as if January 2021. Washington County has 98.2 EVs registered while Rutland County lags behind with 39.4 EVs per 10,000 people.

Many more EVs will be sold in the state said Miller but they “need to be affordable, reliable and Vermont needs an infrastructure of charging stations and home-charging options available.” According to Miller, “significant strides have been made in all of these in Vermont, and there is about to be an explosion of EV options available from almost all automakers in the next few years.”

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