August 15, 2022

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Electric vehicles are in short supply. Here’s what you can find as gas prices soar

Charging port for a Ford Motor Co. Mustang during the Washington Auto Show in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As gas prices hit record highs, some Americans might be tempted to go electric and ease the pain at the pump. But finding a shiny, new electric vehicle might not be so easy.

National inventory levels of vehicles — including EVs — were depleted during the pandemic by a combination of pent-up demand and supply chain problems. Drivers looking to buy an EV today might have to wait for months, or more, before the cars are delivered.

And yet, rising fuel prices continue to plague both businesses and consumers, with the national average for gas hitting a record $4.59 a gallon, according to AAA. The rise in fuel costs — a 51% spike from a year ago — comes ahead of a summer travel season that’s expected to be bustling, and at a time when decades-high inflation is stoking recessionary fears among investors.

The low availability of vehicles, including EVs, has been driven in part by supply chain problems — most notably a shortage of semiconductor chips since early 2021 — that have led automakers to idle plants, leaving fewer cars and trucks available for consumers.

Cox Automotive reports the supply of all new vehicles at the end of April was down 40% from the same period a year earlier to 1.13 million unsold cars and trucks. That’s about 800,000 vehicles below supply in April 2021 and 2.2 million below 2020.

Legacy automakers and electric-vehicle start-ups alike reported modest production volumes to start the year, though they expect waning supply chain restraints to help boost EV production during the second half. For now, EVs are still in short supply and are expected to be for the foreseeable future.

Many of the newest EVs — including the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T and Lucid Air — have backlogs of orders and reservations. Even Tesla, the industry leader in EV sales, said some new orders won’t be fulfilled until the summer of next year, depending on the vehicle model.

Still, some EV models might be easier to score right now, according to industry data compiled by CNBC from sources including automakers, Cox Automotive and the Automotive News Data Center. They include a handful of models from General Motors, Ford, Hyundai Motor and Kia.

Vehicle availability can change quickly and varies by region — those on the coasts may not struggle as much to find an EV. Some vehicles may also be “in transit,” or on their way to dealers, and available to order, depending on the company or dealer. 

But given the tight supplies and growing demand, analysts say people should expect to pay the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, if not more. Pricing excludes any state or federal tax incentives that might be available for buying an EV.

Here’s where availability stands for some of the highest-inventory vehicles and for some of the major players:

Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV

The Bolt models are the most widely available EVs on sale right now, according to industry data.

GM is in the midst of refilling its dealership pipeline with the EVs after a recall due to fire risks shut down sales and production for several months of the past year. All available models have been repaired and cleared of the defects, according to GM, which expects record Bolt sales this year.

Chevrolet’s website shows thousands of the vehicles — mainly Bolt EUVs — currently available.

The Bolt EV starts at $31,500, with an electric range of up to 259 miles on a full charge. The larger Bolt EUV, which went on sale last year, starts at $33,500 and has a range of 247 miles on a full charge.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Visitors check on a Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle displayed at a launch event in Shanghai, China April 13, 2021.

Yilei Sun | Reuters

Kia EV6 and Niro

The Kia EV6 on display at the New York Auto Show, April 13, 2022.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Hyundai Ioniq 5 on display at the New York Auto Show, April 13, 2022.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Hyundai is in ramp-up mode for its Ioniq 5, the brand’s newest EV, which went on sale late last year.

The company is trying to get as many of the vehicles out to dealers as possible, but industry data indicates that only hundreds of the vehicles are available nationally. That’s still more than some other EVs.

In the New York City area, Hyundai’s website shows nearly 200 vehicles available within 250 miles. In Santa Monica, California, the site shows a couple dozen of the cars available within the same distance.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 starts at $44,000, with an electric range of 303 miles on a single charge.

Lucid Air

People test drive Dream Edition P and Dream Edition R electric vehicles at the Lucid Motors plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, September 28, 2021.

Caitlin O’Hara | Reuters

Rivian R1T and R1S

Rivian electric pickup trucks sit in a parking lot at a Rivian service center on May 09, 2022 in South San Francisco, California. 

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

It’s a similar story at Rivian, which also began production last fall.

The company said this month it had more than 90,000 reservations for its outdoorsy R1T pickup and R1S SUV. Its Illinois factory has capacity to build about 150,000 vehicles a year, including the R1 models and the electric delivery vans that Rivian builds for Amazon.

But the company is also facing supply chain challenges, as well as some early production snags, and expects to build just 25,000 vehicles in 2022. An order placed today might not be filled for a year or more.

Rivian’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV offer about 260 miles of range in their base trims, which start at $67,500 and $72,500, respectively. Larger battery packs that provide more range — up to 320 miles on the R1S and 400 miles on the R1T — are available at extra cost.

Fisker Ocean

Henrik Fisker stands with the Fisker Ocean electric vehicle after it was unveiled at the Manhattan Beach Pier ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show and AutoMobilityLA on November 16, 2021 in Manhattan Beach, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images