Global electric vehicle sales up 109% in 2021

Global electric vehicle sales up 109% in 2021

In new research on the global electric vehicle market, independent analyst company Canalys has estimated that 6.5 million electric vehicles (EVs) were sold worldwide in 2021, up 109% on 2020. In the company's analysis, EVs include fully electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars.

While the total global car market grew just 4% in 2021, as it continued to struggle with COVID-19 restrictions and chip shortages, EV sales represented 9% of all passenger car sales in 2021.

Demand for EVs stayed strong in 2021, but many more would have been sold had it not been for the chronic component shortages still affecting every carmaker around the world.

An impressive 85% of EVs sold globally were delivered to customers in mainland China and Europe last year, with 3.2 million EVs sold in mainland China and 2.3 million EVs sold in Europe. In contrast, while demand is growing in the United States, some 535,000 were sold in the US, accounting for just 4% of new cars in the country.

“Over 3.2 million EVs were sold in Mainland China in 2021 – half of all electric cars sold worldwide, and 2 million more than were sold in the country in 2020. Many new models are launching every month in each important market segment, from tiny, inexpensive city cars to mainstream and premium sedans and SUVs,” said Jason Low, Principal Analyst at Canalys.

“15% of new cars sold in 2021 in Mainland China were EVs – more than double the percentage in 2020, and there is still a huge opportunity for future growth in 2022 and beyond.”

The Wuling Hongguang Mini EV was easily the best-selling EV model in Mainland China in 2021. Its success has inspired other car makers to launch similar cars. EVs from Tesla held the next two places, with the Model Y overtaking the Model 3. But competition is increasing. BYD has expanded its range of EVs and was the leading EV brand in China with several popular fully electric and plug-in hybrid models. Other brands with strong EV sales in 2021 in Mainland China included Aion, Changan, Chery, Li Xiang, Ora, Roewe and Xpeng.

Traditional car makers are increasingly electrifying their product ranges in Europe. EVs represented 19% of total car sales in 2021 with 2.3 million vehicles delivered. The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2021, but Volkswagen Group was the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles, with several models from Audi, Skoda and VW selling well.

“Demand for EVs continues to be strong in Europe. In fact, in many European countries EVs represented more than a quarter of new cars sold. but customers must be patient. A nine to 12 month wait time for a new EV is not unusual,” said Ashwin Amberkar, Analyst at Canalys.

Sales of EVs in the US continue to lag those in mainland China and Europe. While just 4% of new cars sold in the US last year were EVs, several new electric models were launched and sales momentum and consumer interest are increasing. Tesla continues to dominate EV sales in the US, however, with an estimated share of just under 60%.

“The competition’s EV sales are nowhere near Tesla’s in the US since Model 3 shipments ramped up in 2018. Tesla even outsells many premium car brands in the overall market,” said Chris Jones, VP and Chief Analyst at Canalys.

“Pick-up trucks will give the US EV market a huge lift in 2022. Rivian was first to deliver at the end of 2021, while Ford and GM have had strong interest in the F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer Pickup respectively.”

Olly Goodall

Author:Olly Goodall
Date Updated:28th Feb 2022

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