The Top Electric Vehicles In World During Record Sales Month

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Global plugin vehicle registrations were up 72% in November 2021 compared to November 2020. There were 721,000 registrations (or 11.5% share of the overall auto market), establishing a new global record for PEV sales. Add the 632,000 units of plugless hybrids registered in November, and we have some 22% of the overall global market having some form of electrification last month. With the final month of the year also set to be a record month (one million units?), we should see over 25% share of electrified registrations in December!

Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) represented 72% of plugin registrations in November, above the year-to-date tally (69%). In total, there were some 518,000 registrations of BEVs, a new record, or 8.3% share of the overall auto market.

With the YTD tally now above 5.5 million units (and at a record 8.1% share), and knowing that the last months of the year are traditionally strong for sales, we should be seeing the plugin vehicle (PEV) market reach some 6.5 million units this year.

For comparison, 2020 ended with 3.1 million units registered. Not bad, considering the current chip shortage, eh?

While disruption is already happening in Europe and China, we should only see consistent disruptive levels on a global scale next year, when the US market comes closer to disruptive numbers.

Weird things start to happen to the overall automotive markets once EV disruption hits them, not only regarding fuel share, like diesel sales falling off a cliff in Europe, but also in OEM standings, like the rise of Chinese OEMs in their home market, Volkswagen Group losing its grip in Europe, or the future inclusion of Tesla as one of the current US Big 4 (the others being Toyota, GM, Stellantis, and Ford).

With the global PEV market starting to approach disruptive times, as the record 11.5% share of November demonstrates, the first signs of paranormal activity in the overall global market are also starting to appear. Plugless hybrid growth rates are slowing down — after a 10% rate in September and October, November had a 14% growth rate, but these three months stayed far below the 2021 YTD average of 53%.

This could mean that after already witnessing a peak ICE moment in the global market, the peak HEV moment might come sometime next year!

(Toyota, take notice…)

In the model ranking, the Tesla Model Y took the monthly best seller title, with over 44,000 registrations, it’s best off-peak performance so far. (So, will it have a record month in December? 75,000 units?) It was followed by the little Wuling Mini EV (40,395 registrations), and the bronze medal went to the Tesla Model 3, with 38,616 registrations, down by 180 units YoY. The latter point seems to confirm that the midsize sedan has found its cruising speed and Tesla is now banking on the Model Y to increase its deliveries.

Just off the podium we have BYD’s star player, the Qin Plus PHEV, which has once again set a new personal record (18,054 registrations). The BYD midsize sedan’s never-ending ramp-up continues — which, added to the also seemingly endless ramp-up of the BEV version (#8, with 10,097 registrations) — has the Qin Plus at 28,000 units when both versions are counted together, which is starting to get close to the 39,000 registration average that the Tesla Model 3 had last quarter. Has the midsize Tesla finally found worthy competition?

Speaking of worthy competition for Tesla’s midsizers, in 5th we have the BYD Song PHEV. Thanks to it’s continued ramp-up, a record 15,100 units were delivered, beating the Volkswagen ID.4. If we were to add the Song’s BEV version to the tally (4,613 units), the compact-to-midsize SUV would have 19,713 registrations, not enough to bother (for now) the Model Y, but more than enough to beat all the remaining competition in the crossover/SUV arena. So, before trying to go after Tesla, legacy OEMs must first beat BYD numbers …

… And not only in the midsize category. In the category above, the race is tight between two Chinese models, with the Li Xiang One (a record 13,485 registrations) for the first time beating the BYD Han even with both versions counted together! (The BEV version had a record 10,026 registrations and the PHEV had 2,820 registrations).

So, if someone wants to be Numero Uno in the higher end of the market, monthly 5-digit scores are now mandatory, and this goes for everyone — be they legacy OEMs (we’re looking at you, Mercedes EQE) other Chinese automakers (Xpeng? NIO?) or even Tesla.

But BYD is also competing with the best of them in the lower end of the market. The recent BYD Dolphin (8,800 registrations, a new record) — in only its 4th month on the market — is now getting close to the category leader, the #10 Renault Zoe. The Zoe, despite having a year-best score (close to 9,000 units), was still down by 1,000 units compared to November 2020. It shouldn’t be able to resist BYD’s new baby in December, which will most likely hit a 5-digit score.

Still discussing the BYD stable, the 6th model from the automaker in this top 20, the #14 BYD Tang PHEV mid-to-full size SUV also hit a record score, 8,018 registrations, highlighting the automaker’s current peak form.

Elsewhere, a mention goes out to a few other Chinese models hitting record scores. There were 13 Chinese models in November’s top 20, 10 of them with record scores. Besides the aforementioned BYDs, we should also mention the rise and rise of Great Wall’s Ora Good Cat, #12, with 8,429 registrations, as well as the #19 Hozon Neta V (7,027 registrations) and #16 XPeng P7 (7,869 registrations).

XPeng is expanding everywhere, supernova style. Not only is its flagship P7 continuously ramping up, but the older and cheaper G3 compact crossover is also hitting record heights (5,692 registrations in November). Meanwhile, the future star player, the P5 — XPeng’s take on the Tesla Model 3 formula — had its fist volume month, with 2,154 registrations. Additionally, the G9 full size SUV is just a few months away.

In the traditional OEM camp, this time there wasn’t much to say. The highlight was the #18 Toyota RAV4 PHEV, which had a record month, with 7,051 registrations. And … that’s basically it.

Outside the top 20, the GAC Aion Y is continuing to improve, with the MPV having gotten a record 5,207 deliveries. The Dacia Spring is continuing to ramp up production, now at 5,770 registrations. The Volvo XC60 PHEV scored a record 6,815 registrations, thanks to its revised specs (once again -> bigger battery = bigger sales).

November saw one model landing that could feature in this top 20 soon, with the don’t call me Wuling Mini EV Chery QQ Ice Cream scoring its first 4,289 units on the market. How high will it go? I think if the little four-seater becomes the automaker’s best selling model, Chery will be happy.

In the YTD table, the podium remained stable. Unless Tesla pulls a Model Y rabbit out of its hat, it should stay the same until the end of the year.

The #5 BYD Qin PHEV shortened the distance it needs to cover to catch the #4 VW ID.4 in December, but unless a surprise comes next month, the Volkswagen should keep its 4th place position through the end of the year.

Although, if we were to add the BEV version’s volumes to the PHEV volumes, BYD would have not one but two models surpassing the German crossover, as both the Qin Plus (143,000) and Han (103,000) would end above it.

It’s essentially the same story regarding the Song SUV. Adding both versions would pull it to 7th, thanks to 89,000 registrations, thus putting 3 BYDs in the top 7.

But because we are not counting numbers that way, we have the #6 BYD Han EV being threatened by the rising Li Xiang One, fewer than 200 units behind, while the BYD Song PHEV is now #11, having jumped 6 positions. The Song PHEV should climb a few more positions in December, possibly ending the year in 8th.

To see further changes, we have to go down to #15, where the Toyota RAV4 PHEV benefited from a strong month and surpassed the Great Wall Ora Black Cat. In #20 we have the XPeng P7, which is surely hoping to climb a few more positions in the last stage of the race. Will it reach #16?

BYD Shines in the Brand Ranking

In November, BYD’s never-ending ramp-up had another chapter, clocking over 90,000 registrations. It seems the Shenzhen automaker is adding some 10,000 units to its output every month, so we should see it reach 6 digits in December. For now, the new record was enough to grant it the best seller title in November, and volume-wise, BYD’s current Q4 numbers (some 270,000 units, 12% share) are placing it close to Tesla’s own quarterly goals for Q4 — 300,000 units and 13% share.

Will BYD continue to close the gap in 2022? Hmmm … good question. One thing is certain: the Chinese automaker is closer to beating Tesla than Volkswagen Group. But more on this later, in the OEM chapter.

The following positions haven’t brought any significant surprises, with the only highlights being Volkswagen and Mercedes hitting year-best scores, but in #8 we have Volvo landing a record score (20,139 registrations) thanks to revised PHEV specs and expansion of its BEV lineup (a cheaper version of the XC40 EV and the new C40 EV).

But the main trend is the rise and rise of the Chinese brands, especially visible in the second half of the table. Adding together the share of the 10 Chinese brands in this top 20, they make up 36% of all plugin vehicles registered last month.

With Great Wall, GAC, XPeng, Chery, Dongfeng, Li Auto, and NIO all hitting record scores last month, one can say that the strength of Chinese EV makers does not rely only on China’s top automakers (BYD, SAIC), but instead is a whole team of velociraptors EV makers, most of them now getting ready to expand their sales beyond their native cradle and colonise the Earth.

On the legacy OEM side, the only highlight was #19 Peugeot, which hit a record 12,287 registrations, underlining Stellantis’ strategy of slow but constant volume improvements. But more on this later, in the OEM chapter.

In the YTD table, there wasn’t much to report in the top positions, with every position seemingly firm until #10 Kia.

The second half of the table is more interesting. Besides the race for #10 between Hyundai and Kia, rising Great Wall is now #13 and could displace Renault at #12 in December. Additionally, GAC climbed to #15, switching positions with Toyota. Despite the record score of the RAV4 PHEV, Toyota saw slow sales in the remaining lineup (Prius PHEV, Stellantis-based MPVs, & China-only models).

XPeng is still #20, making it the 8th Chinese brand in the ranking, but the fast-expanding maker should climb a few positions in December, possibly ending the year in #17.

Finally, a reference goes out to two brands that might join the table in the last stage of the race. #21 Chery and #22 Li Auto are close enough to create a surprise in December.

Looking at registrations by OEM, Tesla is leading with 14% share, but it should gain one percentage point in December, ending the year with 15% share. That would be one point less than in 2020 and 2 points less than in 2019, in line with the trend of a slow decline towards some 10–12% share in a few years.

#2 Volkswagen Group and #3 SAIC retained their standings and shares, while #4 BYD was up one percentage point, to 9%, and should gain another point in December. The final 2021 standing will probably end with Tesla ahead, with 15% share, followed by Volkswagen Group (12%), SAIC (11%), and BYD (10%).

In 2022, expect Tesla to retain the leadership position, but feeling some pressure from BYD, which should have no trouble getting past Volkswagen and SAIC.

As for the B-League, below the 4 big OEMs, the current leader is still Stellantis, which has been steadily increasing deliveries over time, in line with CEO Carlos Tavares’ policy of not being one of the two “L”s (Leader or Laggard). Though, this might not be enough to continue leading the B-League, as both Hyundai–Kia and Geely–Volvo have beaten the Franco-German-Italian-American conglomerate in November.

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José Pontes

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewed the sales evolution of plug-ins on the EV Sales blog, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is also market analyst on EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.

José Pontes has 472 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes