Tesla makes or breaks the EV industry’s numbers–that’s a fact, whether you like it or not. When Tesla’s delivery and registration figures go up, the whole segment goes up. When Tesla sees a prominent dip in sales–as it did in the first quarter of this year–the U.S. EV sector goes down with it. This is how big Tesla’s influence is.

Take the month of February, the latest for which registration data is available, courtesy of S&P Global Mobility. According to Automotive News, Tesla’s new registrations went down a whopping 25% compared to the same month last year, making the entire EV segment’s new registrations in the U.S. drop 2.8%. The last time this happened was in August 2020, when Tesla’s U.S. registrations fell by 2% and the total new EV registrations dropped by 6%.

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Can you have an EV market without Tesla?

If we were to take Tesla out of the equation, new EV registrations in the United States went up 32% in February, compared to the same month last year. With Tesla, the numbers went down 2.8%.

But can we have a modern EV industry without the company that basically invented the long-range, mass-market EV?

The negative numbers appeared despite the fact that every other EV maker in the country saw consistent gains in the second month of this year, including Rivian, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and BMW. Without Tesla, the EV sector in the U.S. actually went up a massive 32%. Keep in mind that these are registration numbers, not production or delivery stats, which are different.

But when looking at what volume Tesla is pushing, even during a weak quarter, it’s clear that without it, the EV landscape would be scarcer.

Ford’s new EV registrations went up 84% in February compared to the same period last year, with 7,656 cars registered. Hyundai’s registrations rose 54% and reached 3,822 cars. Kia saw an increase of 58% in registrations, hitting 3,722 units. BMW had a 166% increase to 3,559 registrations. Rivian had 3,251 new registrations in February, an increase of 56% compared to the year-earlier month.

The five aforementioned car companies had 22,010 combined new EV registrations in February, according to S&P Global Mobility, while Tesla alone had 36,697 new registrations. Total EV registrations amounted to 78,361 cars, making the electric vehicle share of the U.S. light-vehicle market drop to 6.2% from 7% in February 2023.

Tesla EVs at V4 Supercharging station. From left: Model 3, Model S, Cybertruck, Model X and Model Y

Tesla EVs at V4 Supercharging station. From left: Model 3, Model S, Cybertruck, Model X and Model Y

The main reason for Tesla’s–and the EV sector’s decline–in February was the poor performance of the Tesla Model 3 in terms of registrations. The company’s entry-level EV saw a decline of 73%, partly because of the model losing eligibility for the $7,500 tax credit at the beginning of the year and partly because the American EV maker introduced the refreshed version in the first quarter of this year–a move that was associated with a temporary production halt for retooling the Fremont Gigafactory.

The Model Y, which is by far the most popular EV in the United States, saw registration figures drop by 6.7% in February, reaching 28,664 units, while the Model 3 had just 4,423 new registrations. Registrations of the Model S went down 1.8% to 501 cars, while the Model X saw an increase of 47% to 2,537 units. The Model X and Model Y are eligible for the Federal Tax Credit for new EVs, while the Model 3 and Model S are not, according to Tesla’s website, which might explain the uptick in Model X registrations.

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