- Many of the newest EVs — including models by Ford, GMC, Rivian and Lucid — have backlogs of orders and reservations.
- Some models may be easier to find than others, according to industry data compiled by CNBC.
- Pent-up demand means people should still expect to pay the manufacturer's suggested retail price — or more.
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:
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 said there's currently 1,300 electric Mach-E crossovers on dealer lots, though about 800 of those vehicles have already been earmarked for specific customers.
Ford has been encouraging customers to order their vehicles through the dealers, instead of buying off lots, like a majority of their customers have historically done. The process means customers may have to wait for the vehicle, but it assists the company with managing production and ensures customers are getting the exact vehicle they want instead of choosing one from a dealer's inventory.
There are several thousand Mach-Es in transit that should be arriving on dealer lots in the coming weeks and months, according to the company.
Depending on the location, hundreds of vehicles might be available, the company's website indicates. It has closed orders for the vehicle for the 2022 model year. Orders for 2023 models will open in the summer, with production expected to begin in the fall.
The Mustang Mach-E starts at $43,895. Its range on a single charge is up to 314 miles.
Kia has been growing its EV sales this year, with nearly 8,000 EV6 vehicles sold through April. For the Kia Niro, which includes an EV model, sales have nearly doubled.
Nationally, the company said it has an inventory, including in transit, of more than 1,000 units each of the EV6 and Niro EV. The EV6 models are more widely available than the Niro EV, which is concentrated in California and other popular EV markets.
Kia outperformed most other automakers in new EV registrations in the U.S. for the first quarter of this year, trailing only Tesla, according to Automotive News, citing Experian data.
Kia's EV6 starts at $40,900, with a 310-mile electric range on a full charge. The Kia Niro EV, which was redesigned for the 2023 model, starts at $39,990 and has an electric range of 239 miles on a single charge.
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.
Those hoping to buy an EV from newer manufacturers may face even longer waits.
Lucid Group began building the company's first vehicle, the Air luxury sedan, at its Arizona factory late last year. Reviews have been positive and — despite the six-figure price tags on most versions of the sedan — Lucid said earlier this month that it had more than 30,000 reservations for the vehicle.
But many of those buyers may have to wait a year or more to get their cars.
Lucid's factory can make about 34,000 vehicles a year when it runs at full capacity. But the company has said supply chain issues will curb production to between 12,000 and 14,000 Airs this year.
The Lucid Air starts at $77,400, with 406 miles of range on a full charge. The top-of-the-line Air Grand Touring offers range of up to 516 miles on a full charge, at a starting price of $139,000.
Lucid has announced plans to raise its prices as of June 1.
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, based in California, had more than 45,000 reservations for its Ocean electric SUV as of its May 4 earnings report but doesn't expect to start building the vehicles with its manufacturing partner Magna Steyr until mid-November.
CEO Henrik Fisker said he's working with Magna Steyr and suppliers to increase production capacity from 50,000 vehicles a year to 150,000 vehicles a year by the end of 2024.
Even if the company escapes supply chain challenges, a customer who orders an Ocean today likely wouldn't see it until the fall of 2023 at the earliest.
Fisker's Ocean SUV can travel about 250 miles on a full charge in its base trim, which starts at $37,499. Larger battery packs offering up to 350 miles of range are available at extra cost.