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January 27, 2022

The United States is trailing behind some other large economies as electric vehicles continue to capture market shares globally.

While electric vehicles charged ahead last year in Europe and China, taking 10% and 12% of market share respectively, electrics accounted for just 3% of US sales.

Weaker emissions targets coupled with a greater reluctance among American consumers to embrace electric vehicles have put considerable distance between the United States and its rivals. Boosting sales will require a shift in mindset.

"You're asking [consumers] to adapt to a whole different thing. It's not just [that] they go to a different type of gas station," Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds, told CNN Business. "They have to plan out their route, they have to figure out if they want to install a charger in their home."

China is different, said Caldwell.

"There's a lot of first-time car owners ... it's not as if they're on their fifth, sixth, seventh vehicle and they've kind of stuck to the same routine," she said.

Ives said that 2022 could mark a turning point for the United States as "Ford, GM, Rivian and others follow Tesla aggressively going after the EV market." He predicts that electric vehicle sales in the country will reach 10% of the market by 2025.

Tesla is 'impossible to catch'

The world's automakers are investing tens of billions of dollars in the electric vehicle race, with a slew of new models expected to come to market in 2022.

Tesla's Model 3 topped global electric vehicle sales in 2021, moving about 540,000 units, according to LMC Automotive. The company, which briefly hit a $1 trillion valuation in October — one of only six US companies to do so — delivered a record 936,000 cars for the year, an 87% increase over 2020.

Ives doesn't expect Tesla or CEO Elon Musk to give up the crown anytime soon.

"The company has an iron-clad grip on the EV market globally and has the brand, capacity, battery technology and innovation under Musk that makes them almost impossible to catch," he said.

That doesn't mean Tesla won't have challengers. Volkswagen Group delivered 453,000 electric vehicles in 2021, almost double its 2020 figure. The owner of brands including Porsche, Audi and Skoda has committed to spending more than $100 billion over the next five years to electrify its fleet. The group is already the market leader in Europe.

Chinese carmakers are also moving up a gear. The Hong Guang Mini EV, the $4,400 pint-sized car made by a partnership between SAIC, GM and Wuling, topped sales in China last year and came second globally, LMC Automotive data shows.