We have relatively affordable electric cars. We have relatively popular electric cars. But we have not yet had the best-selling car in America be electric.
I think it’s no great stretch of the imagination to think that, at some point, our best-selling car will be all-electric. The only alternatives would be that we quickly leapfrog all-electric power to something else, or we give up on cars altogether before the transition takes.
The former situation I highly doubt, as hydrogen fuel cell cars are fundamentally EVs but with hydrogen acting like a battery. The latter I doubt as well. Burning hydrogen seems like a lot of work in comparison to using fuel cells, and biofuels don’t seem to have the investment backing like battery tech. They might be better, but investment is what counts. When the auto industry as a whole moves to support one major design, it really leaves the rest in the dark. That’s what we saw with the great disinvestment from electric technology a little over 100 hears ago.
I suppose that whole past timeline of EVs negates my question altogether. I know electrics were about a third of the American car market as a whole at the turn of the 20th century, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Pope or Columbia briefly held the top sales spot.
In all of my thinking and writing about EVs new and old, it never quite occurred to me to wonder what the first best-selling modern electric car will be. I never gave much thought as to which company would produce it, or what kind of vehicle it would be.
Right now, two pieces of evidence would point towards one conclusion, but I don’t think it makes a ton of sense. The electric car Americans buy the most of at the moment is the Tesla Model 3. The type of vehicle Americans buy the most of is a pickup truck (the Ford F-Series). It stands to reason that when Tesla gets its electric pickup on sale, it would take that top spot, but I somehow don’t see Americans buying more Cybertrucks than anything else. I also don’t know if Tesla as a company can produce that many of the things, and I don’t know if the current lithium industry is capable of supporting it. I guess the same could be said of Ford’s upcoming all-electric F-150.
I know I asked this question in The Morning Shift earlier, but I’m still wondering: If the best-selling car that happens to be electric is farther down the road, what will it be?