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US monthly new vehicle registrations reach 10-year high in March; EV market share surpasses 3% for first time

18 May 2021 Tom Libby

US new light vehicle registrations reached a 10-year high of 1.64 million in March 2021, and, separately, electric vehicle retail market share in the United States climbed to a record 3.1% in March, according to an analysis of the most recent IHS Markit light vehicle registration data. This comes at a time when US GDP is expected to expand at 6.7% this year, according to IHS Markit forecasts, as more Americans are vaccinated and the economy re-opens.

"The 10-year industry registration record in March is indeed remarkable as it exceeds any monthly result during the four year stretch from 2015 through 2018 when industry registrations surpassed 17 million every year, the highest volume four-year stretch in history. On top of this, record monthly new vehicle deliveries were occurring during the recovery period of the worst pandemic in the United States in the past 100 years."

-- Tom Libby, associate director, automotive loyalty and industry analysis, IHS Markit

From a regional growth perspective, March 2021 new vehicle registrations in the Northeast climbed the most when compared to March 2020, more than doubling to lead all regions with just over 336,000 units, due partially to an abnormally low base from COVID-19 impacts last year. When comparing March 2021 to March 2019 to eliminate the impact of the virus, the Southwest region outperformed all others, up 16% to more than 264,000 registrations.

Electric vehicle retail registrations in March captured more than 3 percent of the US market for the first time in history, reaching 3.1 percent share. Share rising from the 1-2 percent range to the 3-4 percent range is significant as it signifies the EV category is moving from a "niche" status in the direction of mainstream. Of comparable note, March 2021 CYTD US market shares for two widely accepted and respected brands, Kia and Subaru, are both 4.1 percent overall.

New EV retail registrations more than doubled in March to 42,591, with eight of the ten most popular electric vehicles displaying triple digit growth over March 2020 (one of the remaining two was not on the market a year ago). These models, their volumes, and their year-over-year changes are shown below.

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