Electrified Vehicles Interest Sets Another Record, Goes Mainstream

Which EV models are succeeding in the consumer marketplace? Chances are the same ones they would want from a fleet, whether rental, ridehail, corporate, or work truck. Ford F-150 Lightning already ranks No. 9.

Graphic: Kelley Blue Book

Shopping for electrified vehicles set another record, and some models were among the most shopped of all luxury and non-luxury vehicles, electrified or not, illustrating electrified vehicles are going mainstream, according to the Q4 2021 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch report released Feb. 15. 

The report is a consumer perception survey that also weaves in consumer shopping behavior to determine how a brand or model stacks up with its segment competitors in a dozen factors key to a consumer’s buying decision. Kelley Blue Book produces a separate Brand Watch report for non-luxury and luxury brands each quarter, which includes a closer look at electrified vehicles, that is electric vehicles, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. 

Shopping for electrified vehicles has been on a steady rise since the fourth quarter of 2020. In the final quarter of 2021, that shopping reached new heights. Of all shoppers, 28% considered an electrified vehicle, up from 24% in the third quarter of 2021. Of those, 20% considered a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, up from 18% in the third quarter, and 13% considered an EV, up from 9%. Records were set in every category. 

Indicating that electrified vehicles are going mainstream, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which has long been the most-shopped electrified vehicle, broke into the Top 10 of most-shopped non-luxury vehicles in total. It ranked No. 7 among most-shopped non-luxury vehicles, marking the first time any electrified vehicle had made the list. 

The Tesla Model 3 was the most shopped of all luxury vehicles again in the fourth quarter. The Model Y was the most-shopped luxury SUV. The Tesla brand soared to the third most-shopped luxury brand, surpassing Mercedes-Benz and Audi. 

Ford Scores Most Spots on Top 10 List 

Ford had four models on the Top 10 list for most-shopped electrified vehicles, more than any other brand and twice what it had in the previous quarter. Only a year ago, Ford had none on the list. The high levels of shopping for Ford’s electrified vehicles, as well as some of its non-electrified stalwarts, allowed Ford to bump Toyota out of the No. 1 spot it had held for four straight years in overall shopping consideration. 

The small Ford Maverick pickup truck, offered standard as a hybrid or with an optional gasoline engine, ranked No. 5. It popped onto the Top 10 list almost immediately after being introduced last summer and has steadily risen through the ranks.  

Maverick has an advantage of filling a white space that didn’t exist with a compelling product carrying an attractive price. The Maverick starts at about $20,000, although its average transaction price in the fourth quarter was around $29,000, according to Cox Automotive data. The Maverick has the lowest starting price of any model on the Top 10 most-shopped electrified list and, in fact, now is one of the least expensive models offered by any Detroit automaker. 

In the fourth quarter, the Maverick was followed by the Ford Mustang Mach-E at No. 6 among most-shopped electrified vehicles. The electric F-150 Lightning, which isn’t available for delivery until later this spring, ranked No. 9, followed by the Ford F-150 Hybrid. 

Toyota typically has the most entrants on the most-shopped list, but it had only two: the RAV4 Hybrid at No. 1 and the Highlander Hybrid at No. 7. The Prius and Camry hybrids dropped from the list in the quarter. Still, Toyota dominates in hybrid sales, deriving 25% of sales from hybrid models.

The Honda CR-V, at No. 4, was surpassed by two Tesla models on the most-shopped list. The Honda Accord hybrid didn’t make the Top 10 in the quarter. 

Tesla Dominates EVs, Newcomers Gain 

As it has from the start, Tesla continued to dominate in EVs in the fourth quarter. The Model 3 and Model Y were the most-shopped EVs. They ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on the overall electrified shopping list.  

Tesla had the biggest increase in shopping consideration of any luxury brand in the fourth quarter, which translated into sales. Tesla beat other luxury brands in sales in 2021, according to the Kelley Blue Book quarterly sales report. Tesla surged ahead of Audi and Mercedes-Benz in shopping consideration for the first time in the Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch for luxury report.  

The Tesla Model 3 was the most-shopped luxury vehicle in the quarter, followed by the Model Y, which was No. 2 of all vehicles and the most-shopped luxury SUV. Both had whopping increases in shopping consideration. Model 3 shopping was up 56%, and Model Y consideration rose 43%. Shopping for the Model S edged higher as well. 

Still, other EVs gained steam. The Ford Mustang Mach-E made the Top 10 list of most-shopped electrified vehicles again as it has since it was introduced just over a year ago. For the first time, the electric Volkswagen ID.4 made the list and so did the Ford F-150 Lightning, which doesn’t start deliveries until spring and those go to consumers who submitted preorders.

EV startups Rivian, Lucid and Polestar are beginning to show up in the Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch report, and their shopping numbers are growing. Still low on the chart, 2% of luxury shoppers considered Rivian and Lucid in the fourth quarter of 2021. By comparison, Jaguar was at 3%. About 1% shopped Polestar, about the same that considered Alfa Romeo and Maserati. 

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