Ballooning US EV registrations raise opportunities for startups

Electric vehicle volumes are soaring in the U.S. — with registrations up 60% in the first quarter of the year — even as the country’s auto market contracted 18% as continued parts shortages constrained inventories.

Between January and March, U.S. consumers registered 158,689 EVs, according to Experian. With EV volumes rising and automakers selling fewer fossil-fuel vehicles, EVs captured 4.6% of the market in the first quarter.

Tesla took four of the top 10 spots, and the marque’s Model Y, Model 3, and Model S swept the top three, according to a report from Automotive News. The Ford Mustang Mach-E took fourth place, and Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 and Kia’s EV6 took fifth and sixth, respectively. (Experian reports registration data because Tesla does not disclose sales figures for the U.S. only, and other automakers don’t break out sales of EV versions of certain models.)

None of the recent upstarts, including Rivian or Lucid, broke their way into the top 10, though that’s not surprising. Both companies have only recently entered production on their first vehicles, which are pricey enough to limit the size of their potential market.

Still, as those companies and other large firms like Volkswagen and GM begin to ramp production, consumers will soon be able to choose from a range of models at a variety of price points.

That’s all but certain to drive further gains for EVs — and even more opportunities for startups to capitalize on the growth.

The most obvious winners in all this will be battery technology startups. Venture capitalists and private equity firms have been closely following automakers’ growing commitments to electrification and have been lavishing money on promising companies. In the last five years, they’ve made nearly 1,700 investments in battery startups totaling $42 billion, according to a TechCrunch/PitchBook analysis. Three-quarters of those deals closed in the last two years.