Global Plugin Vehicle Sales Up 43% In 2020, European Sales Up 137%

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Plugin electric vehicles (fully electric vehicles as well as plugin hybrids) had a sales increase of 43% in 2020 compared to 2019 according to new data from EV Volumes.

That meant a rise from 2.5% market share in 2019 to 4.2% share of the global light-duty vehicle market in 2020.

In the first half of the year, sales were actually down considerably (#ThanksCovid), but they skyrocketed in the second half of the year as the auto market rebounded in generally and especially for electric vehicles.

That is too broad-brushed a view of the market, though. The plugin vehicle sales growth was not uniform across the planet. They hardly budged up in the United States (just 4%, and representing a modest portion of the global electric vehicle market) and grew a slightly better but still fairly weak 12% in China. In Japan, plugin vehicle sales actually decreased 28%, but the market is so minor for plugin vehicles anyway that it hardly mattered.

The big leader, as anyone who’s been following CleanTechnica knows, was Europe. Europe delivered a whopping 137% sales increase in 2020 compared to 2019! And that was with the overall auto market being down 20% in Europe. Stunning. It’s amazing what automakers can do when legislators say that they have to actually try to sell electric vehicles (and threaten significant fines if they don’t). Consumers do want electric vehicles when presented with a healthy range of options and when dealers are incentivized to moved them into garages instead of leaving them uncharged in the back corner of the lot. Kudos to Europe for being a leader on cleantech (again).

Looking at the famous (or infamous if you’re GM) plugin vehicle market share ranking, Norway (63%) is far ahead of anyone else, while Iceland (45%) has a huge lead above everyone else at #2 and Sweden (32%) an extremely solid grounding at #3. The Olympics are over and any concern about how EVs perform in cold climates should be put to rest since Norway, Iceland, and Sweden are skyscrapers above the rest of the world in terms of plugin vehicle market share of their overall auto markets.

While they may seem less impressive looking at those three leaders, the results for #4 Netherlands (21%) and #5 Finland (18%) are also stunning and would have led the world just a few years ago.

What I had not seen before is EV Volumes’ breakdown on the fastest growing plugin vehicle markets. Stunning growth was seen in India (+500%), Taiwan (+308%), Czech Republic (+306%), Germany (+254%), and Denmark (+246%).

Moving away from countries and regions and looking more closely at automakers, Tesla led the pack again, but not by such a large margin this year, as Volkswagen Group scored a 197% increase in plugin vehicle sales. Tesla’s sales also increased (36%), but several other automakers had huge sales jumps due to regulations requiring that in Europe and China.

PSA Group had the most growth, due largely to having almost no plugin vehicle sales in 2019. Its annual sales increased 1346% even though it still only ranked 9th among all automakers.

Big growth was also seen by #8 Daimler (274%), #10 Volvo Car Group (176%), #3 GM (143%), and #5 Hyundai Motor Company (73%).

Several Chinese automakers saw big sales hits, while a handful of Chinese EV startups popped up, most notably NIO, Li Xiang, and Xpeng.

[Full disclosure: I own shares of Tesla/TSLA, NIO, Xpeng/XPEV, and Volkswagen Group/VWAGY.]

Looking at the global EV battery market, LG Chem regained the #1 spot, followed by CATL and then Panasonic. These big three dominate the global EV battery industry. Different market research firms sometimes rank them differently, but they always share the podium.

One very interesting thing about EV Volumes’ report on this is that it breaks down which automakers these battery companies supply in a compact way. As you can see above, LG Chem (actually, LG Energy Solution now) and CATL have numerous automaker contracts. Panasonic primarily benefits from a huge long-term relationship with Tesla, providing most of its battery cell needs.

The final gem of note from EV Volumes is its breakdown of significant 2020 and 2021 plugin vehicle model launches. Looking at the model lists provides a nice overview of significant changes on the market in 2020 and expected changes in 2021, but the regional breakdown is critical too. As you can see, China dominated new plugin vehicle model entrants in 2020, accounting for 58.7% of new fully electric vehicle models. In 2021, however, Europe will be the world leader, adding 67 models compared to China’s 52. (Though, those figures may change before end of year.) While North America’s 39 new fully electric models are a distant 3rd behind Europe and China, the total is at least a dramatic step up from the meager 4 models introduced in 2020. Furthermore, there are some significant additions coming — Ford Mustang Mach-E, Rivian R1T, Rivian R1S (perhaps), Volkswagen ID.4, and the Tesla Cybertruck of course (assuming production of the unique model is on schedule or early).

All images courtesy EV Volumes.

Read more EV sales reports on CleanTechnica.

Related Story: Global Electric Vehicle Top 20 — EV Sales Report

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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