Sales of battery-powered cars double but are still dwarfed by purchases of internal combustion models

General Motors’ US electric vehicle sales more than doubled in the second quarter from the same period a year earlier, adding to evidence of a growing appetite among consumers for battery-powered cars and trucks.

The Detroit carmaker said on Wednesday that it sold more than 15,000 EVs to retail customers between April and June, compared to roughly 7,000 during the second quarter of 2022. The 113 per cent increase was fuelled by strong demand for both the smaller and larger versions of the Chevrolet Bolt, which at approximately $27,000 is one of the most affordable EVs on the US market.

GM’s report followed strong production and delivery data from EV manufacturers Tesla and Rivian, sending shares of both companies sharply higher. Tesla sells the most EVs in the US market, followed by GM. GM’s Detroit rival Ford is due to report sales volumes on Thursday.

Volkswagen, with the fourth-largest share in the US EV market, said on Wednesday that sales of its ID.4 electric SUV had more than quadrupled year on year in the second quarter to 6,690 vehicles. 

Even as car shoppers purchase more battery-powered cars and trucks, they remain a small portion of the total US market. The trade group Alliance for Automotive Innovation said EVs made up 8.6 per cent of US new vehicle sales in the first quarter, up from 5.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2022.

GM sold nearly 692,000 cars, trucks and vans in the second quarter, 2 per cent of which were electric. The total sales volume was a 19 per cent jump over the same period in 2022, when supply chain problems limited how many vehicles carmakers could churn out.

The company sold fewer than 1,400 of the electric Cadillac Lyriq and just 47 of the GMC Hummer EV. But sales of the Bolt shot up from 6,900 to nearly 14,000.

GM plans to stop making the Bolt at the end of the year. It wants to shift away from the Bolt so that it builds all its vehicles using its newer battery platform, Ultium, that costs 40 per cent less.

Chief executive Mary Barra hinted at some kind of future for the Bolt name last month when she said in an interview that GM was “leveraging the names of our vehicles that are well understood” and that the Bolt had “built up a lot of loyalty and equity”. 

The carmaker plans to launch six electric vehicles in the second half of the year, including electrified versions of the Chevrolet Silverado pick-up and the Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle.

GM shares rose 1.2 per cent on Wednesday.

The positive sales results for General Motors and other EV manufacturers indicate a shifting landscape in the automotive industry, with a clear trajectory towards electric mobility. As more consumers embrace EVs, manufacturers are responding with increased production, new models, and advanced battery technologies, paving the way for a greener future.