The plugin electric vehicle market has exploded in the past year (in a good way), thanks especially to the European Union requiring that automakers sell more efficient vehicles (EVs) or pay big fines. All of a sudden, automakers have discovered that consumers will indeed buy millions of EVs if you produce them and market them well.
I’m not claiming this is a definite list of the countries that have passed the milestone of 10% of new auto sales being plugin auto sales, but these are the only ones I’m aware of. As you will see, 15 of them are European countries. The 16th is China, and it’s actually in 16th place (based on plugin vehicle market share in the first half of 2021).
Below, I am going to run through a short summary of these 16 plugin vehicle markets.
Note: Some people get upset when we cover all plugin vehicles together instead of just covering fully electric vehicles (BEVs). Others get upset if we cover only BEVs. I think it’s worth looking at them together, especially since you can see how different markets are approaching the plugin vehicle transition by looking at this bigger picture. In this article, I’ve decided to focus on plugin vehicles, and in the next article I’ll focus on pure BEV stats.
To kick off, here’s a big chart showing the progression of plugin vehicle share in each of these 16 countries from 2012–2021, arranged by the top 2021 market to the “least mature” 2021 EV market.
Before jumping into country-specific highlights, here’s a chart of the 2020 comparison of these markets …
… and here’s a chart comparing these 16 countries in the 1st half of 2021:
Norway is clearly the king of the plugin vehicle market, and has been for decades. It’s plugin vehicle share is consistently far ahead of any other market, and it just keeps climbing up the S-curve as one would expect from a standard S-curve chart you’d find on Wikipedia or in a business class. Still, it’s been stunning to watch, and it’s amazing to see that the country has now risen above 80% plugin share of new auto sales.
The top 3 best selling plugin vehicles in Norway so far in 2021 are the following: 1) Tesla Model 3 (9%), 2) Volkswagen ID.4 (6.2%), and Toyota RAV PHEV (5.9%). Yes, that’s right, the RAV4 PHEV! I forgot that vehicle even existed.
As long as I can remember, Iceland has been #2 in this regard. Of course, Iceland has even fewer people than Norway, and it’s a small island without any bridges anywhere, so I sort of write it off. That said, there are plenty of small islands around the world, and Iceland is a true leader that deserves big props in this industry. And the thing that disappoints me is that even with such a small, landlocked geographic area, PHEVs lead BEVs. The top 3 plugin models in 2021 have been: 1) Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (10.7% market share), 2) Tesla Model 3 (9.5%), and 3) Nissan LEAF (6.3%). Perhaps part of Iceland’s problem is not getting allocated enough BEVs.
Sweden has long had a heavy focus/reliance on plugin hybrids, but it has indeed passed 10% BEV market share in 2021 as well. Also, I expect it to increasingly shift to BEVs in the next two to three years as some preferred automakers in Sweden do — basically, Volvo Cars and the various German luxury brands. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has also long been popular there. We’ll see what happens in that segment of the market as the Volkswagen ID.4, Tesla Model Y, Skoda Enyaq, and more SUVs with long range get going. For the time being, the top 3 best sellers in 2021 are: 1) Volvo XC60 PHEV (6%), 2) Volvo V60 PHEV (5.3%), and 3) Kia Ceed PHEV (5.3%). (The ID.4 is already #4 with 5% share.)
Finland is seemingly copying Sweden, which is fine — better than copying the USA. Hopefully all of those plugin hybrids sold there do act as useful stepping stones into BEV lifestyles. The top selling plugin vehicle in 2021 is the Volvo XC60 PHEV (6.8% market share), the second best selling is the Skoda Octavia PHEV (4.7%), and third is Volkswagen ID.4 (4.4%).
Hmm, are we seeing a pattern up north? Yes, it seems we are. Plugin hybrids are king in Nordic countries. Though, BEVs have also jumped up pretty strongly in the past couple of years. The Ford Kuga PHEV actually leads this market! (And with a whopping 13.1% market share!) The next two models are also PHEVs — Peugeot 3008 PHEV (4.6%) and Toyota RAV4 PHEV (4.5%).
Germany has been one of the standout stories of the past year or so in the EV industry. In part because it jumped out of nowhere to a leadership position, and in part because it’s a gigantic auto market. You can see that it has had heavy adoption of PHEVs, but the ratio isn’t as unbalanced as in the Nordic countries (minus Norway, which is the BEV champion of course). Historically, the German market is led by an odd trio: a French car, the Renault ZOE (6.7% market share); followed by a tiny German model, the Smart Fortwo (3.9% market share); and then a California, the Tesla Model 3 (3.8%). However, in 2021 (which is what I’m using for the other top models mentioned in this article), the shift toward common German body types is clear: Volkswagen e-Up! (5%), Tesla Model 3 (4.5%), Volkswagen ID.3 (4.3%).
No EV market is as much of a roller coaster as the Netherlands. Due to a variety of subsidy changes and a population hyper-attentive to tax policy changes, the Dutch market has been wild. Nonetheless, it’s always a leader, and I expect to see more upward movement for BEVs and EVs in general in the next couple of years. As far as leaders in this wild market, historically, the Tesla Model 3 is #1 with 11.7% market share, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is #2 with 9% market share, and the Volvo V60 PHEV is #3 with 5.3% market share. However, 2021 looks very different: 1) Skoda Enyaq (6.5%), 2) Volvo XC40 PHEV (5.9%), and 3) Kia Niro EV (5.1%). The winds, they are a changin’.
Like Iceland, I have a hard time including such a small and unusual place in these rankings, but Luxembourg’s got the stats and deserves its spot in the top 10 — or top 8. Also, we’re still seeing markets that tip more to the plugin hybrid side of things, but that’s not to say BEVs haven’t been seeing strong growth as well. Especially curious about which models are leading the way in this odd market, I just had a look at their historical (overall fleet) split and was surprised by the result: the Tesla Model 3 is #1 with 7.9% market share, the Renault ZOE is at 5.5%, and the Smart Fortwo is 3.3% — quite a range of vehicles in the top 3. In 2021, though, things look quite sensible: 1) Tesla Model 3 (6.8%), 2) Mercedes GLE350e/de (6.4%), 3) Fiat 500e (4.4%).
The Swiss EV market is finally another market where BEVs are outweighing plugin hybrids. Still, you can see that both plugin powertrains have risen sharply in the past year or year and a half. As far as the top plugin models in this rather rich market, you’ve got some familiar faces here: 1) Tesla Model 3 (9.9%), 2) Volkswagen ID.3 (6%), and 3) Renault ZOE (3.9%).
Another BEV-leading market! Austria actually has one of the strongest BEV–PHEV ratios these days, and always has. As far as its top 3 models, they are: 1) Tesla Model 3 (11.2%), 2) Volkswagen ID.3 (7.3%), and 3) Volkswagen ID.4 (5.6%).
The French market is almost 50–50 BEVs versus PHEVs these days. Historically, this is a very BEV-heavy market. The sharp rise in PHEVs is just a reminder that, first of all, the various automakers are pulling out all the stops to not be fined, and secondly, some automakers are leaning much more on PHEVs — and pushing them heavily. The top 3 models in France so far this year are the: 1) Tesla Model 3 (9.1%), 2) Renault ZOE (7.5%), and 3) Peugeot 3008 PHEV (6.5%).
Portugal was a top, top EV market not too long ago, but it has dropped to “just” #12 this year as other markets have woken up. Nonetheless, considering that many of these countries on this list are quite wealthy, Portugal is still a notable leader on this list. Its top 3 plugin vehicles this year include: 1) Volvo XC40 PHEV (5.2%), 2) Tesla Model 3 (5%), and 3) the old-timer Nissan LEAF (4.6%).
While I got on several of the other markets above for their reliance on plugin hybrids for high EV market share, it seems that Belgium is a true criminal in this regard. Plugin hybrids accounted for 11.6% of the country’s auto market in the first half of 2021 compared to pure electric vehicles getting just 3.7%. The top 3 plugin vehicle models were all plugin hybrids: 1) Volvo XC40 PHEV (5.9%), 2) Mercedes GLE350e/de (5%), and 3) BMW X5 45e (4.9%).
It’s hard to tell looking at the chart, but the UK’s hot plugin market does lean toward the BEV side (8% versus 6.9% in 2021). Still, the biggest stunner is looking at how much EV sales jumped in 2020 — even though I predicted that well before 2020. The Tesla Model 3 is the clear king of the market there (10.9%), followed by the BMW 3-Series PHEV (4.7%) and the Kia Niro EV (4.3%).
Ireland had a little bit of a stronger rise up the EV market share ladder, with a relatively strong 2019. Its top two plugin vehicle models this year are the hot new ID siblings — the ID.4 (9.2%) and ID.3 (7.2%). Then you’ve got the familiar Tesla Model 3 (6.9%), which made the top 3 in 9 of the markets above.
At last, we get to China. Of course, we don’t have an EAFO chart for China, and I don’t have the PHEV versus BEV split for each year, but the chart above captures the 2012–2021 plugin vehicle market share rise in the Chinese market. As far as the top 3 plugin vehicle models in China in the first half of 2021, they were the 1) Wuling HongGuang Mini EV, 2) Tesla Model 3, and 3) Tesla Model Y.
Next up will be a rundown of BEV-only market share leaders. Stay tuned and let us know if you have any other requests along these lines.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.