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Tesla still the top EV brand in the U.S., but its lead is shrinking

Despite Tesla (TSLA) sitting atop the EV leaderboard in the U.S., new data shows competitors are chipping away at its lead.

S&P Global Mobility’s latest report on U.S. EV market share shows Tesla leading the way with 65% market share across all EVs registered through the first nine months of 2022, however that figure is down from 79% in 2020. This covers 525,000 EVs registered this year in the U.S.

The remaining non-Tesla sales are divided across 46 other nameplates (AKA models), such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq5, and Chevrolet Bolt EV, among others. S&P says by 2025 the number of nameplates is expected to grow to 159 by 2025, suggesting more and more competition for Tesla.

But despite the coming onslaught of new entrants, Tesla is still in a good spot given its huge lead and EV manufacturing scale.

GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 15: A general view of a Tesla car charging station on September 15, 2022 in Garden City, New York, United States. Many families along with businesses are suffering the effects of inflation as the economy is dictating a change in spending habits. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 15: A general view of a Tesla car charging station on September 15, 2022 in Garden City, New York, United States. Many families along with businesses are suffering the effects of inflation as the economy is dictating a change in spending habits. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

"Before you feel too bad for Tesla, however, remember that the brand will continue to see unit sales grow, even as share declines," said Stephanie Brinley, S&P Global Mobility associate director for AutoIntelligence, said in the report. "The EV market in 2022 is a Tesla market, and it will continue to be, so long as its competitors are bound by production capacity."

S&P Mobility analysts report that once other automakers scale up, much of the increased competition in the EV space will come in at the lower end of the market, the sub-$50K price range where Tesla does not really operate. This is reflected when looking at the luxury EV market, where S&P data shows Tesla commands a larger 86% market share through the first nine months of the year (S&P’s report does say what price level or criteria delineates the luxury market).

That being said, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is on record as saying the company is actively developing a sub $30,000 vehicle to address the lower end of the market, as well as launching the Cybertruck next year to tackle the popular light pickup segment.

While total EV market share has grown in the U.S. this year to 5.2% versus 2.8% a year ago, S&P notes this figure has likely been held back by low volumes of EVs in the marketplace and supply chain constraints, which will likely improve over time.

"Evaluating EV market performance requires looking through a lower-volume lens than with traditional ICE products," Brinley said. "But growth prospects for EV products are strong, investment is massive and the regulatory environment in the U.S. and globally suggests that these are the solution for the future."

The biggest losers thus far in the overall EV transformation happening in the U.S. are the Japanese automakers, who have traditionally done very well in the U.S. S&P data concludes that the top Tesla brand “conquests” are Toyota (15.3%), Honda (13.3%), with the top models being conquested by the Model Y being the Lexus RX, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Honda Odyssey, Honda Accord. For the Model 3 the top conquests are the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Tesla brand conquests (credit: S&P Global Mobility)
Tesla brand conquests (credit: S&P Global Mobility)

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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