BEV innovation

Matt Lucki, Senior Analyst, Powertrain Forecasts, The Americas

11 June 2021

How far will your dollar go in today’s US Battery Electric Vehicle market?

Electric vehicles and, moreover, electric vehicle battery technology have come a long way since the 2010 US launch of the Nissan LEAF. Driving range was limited to 73 miles, a meagre figure by today’s standard, but sufficiently impressive at the time. One of the only other battery electric vehicle (BEV) entries at that point was the original Tesla Roadster, which could travel 244 miles on a single charge. Back then, of course, that kind of electric range would have cost nearly six figures, compared to the LEAF’s base price of US$33,000 (before federal tax incentives).

So, how do today’s BEVs stack up, in terms of range and price point, a decade later? The chart below illustrates the progression.

Note: Tesla transactional prices are not included in the data, but the graph above includes Tesla model starting prices for relative comparison, given that the all-electric automaker makes up more than 75% of US BEV sales.

The US BEV market now consists of nearly 20 unique models, with varying price points. Among the entry-level models (priced below US$25,000), the Nissan LEAF has a similar base price as a decade ago, although its electric range has doubled as a result of advancements in lithium-ion battery packs and e-motor proficiency.

In the middle of the pack, the newly released Volkswagen ID.4 is a prime candidate to tackle the Tesla 3/Y standard range. The RWD ID.4 is currently for sale, but the release of the AWD version in Q4 this year is likely to bump up the transactional price. Riding on the popular Mustang brand, the Ford Mach-E (88 kWh) is challenging the Tesla 3/Y long-range variants. Premium BEV models range from US$50,000 to US$140,000 for the performance-oriented Porsche Taycan. In general, Premium models tend to concentrate on higher power output, at the expense of overall range.

But of all the models on sale today, only three exceed 350 miles – and all three bear the Tesla badge. The next few years will see the BEV model count more than double as legacy OEMs bring competitive vehicles to market. The influx includes the release of electric Pickups with large batteries and ranges topping 400+ miles without payloads. Ford made a splash by revealing the F-150 BEV Lightning’s base price of US$40,000, exerting pressure on its cross-town rival, the yet-to-be-premiered Chevrolet Silverado electric. And given that it has already exceeded the 200,000-unit threshold for federal tax incentives, GM will need to price its new Truck aggressively.

More detailed information on transactional prices, including hybrid and plug-in prices, can be found in our US Hybrid and EV subscription service.