Best Selling Electric Cars in the World — January 2022

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Tesla Model Y is #1 in a Hot electric cars Market. Registrations were up 87% year over year (YoY) in January, to over 603,000 units. China’s market was the main driver of growth, as we can see on the best sellers list as well.

Share-wise, 2022 started with plugin vehicles getting 10% share of the global auto market, already above last year’s final mark of 9%! We could end this year at around 15%, which would mean that the global automotive market would be firmly in the Disruption Zone already this year.

cleantechnica best selling electric cars

Last month, BEVs jumped 94% YoY while PHEVs grew 72%, mostly thanks to the BEV-friendly Chinese market, which represented almost two thirds of all global sales of electric cars in January.

24 months ago, we had only 2 Chinese electric cars in the table, and then there were 9 in January 2021, but with the current surge in China, we now have 17 representatives in the top 20 spots! Seventeen! And the three foreigners (Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, and Volkswagen ID.4) can be considered honorary Chinese EVs, as a large share of their production occurs in China. So, it’s no wonder that the current global top 20 looks a lot like China’s top 20.

Speaking of Tesla, looking at the best selling models table, there’s some good news and some bad news for the US automaker. On one hand, the Model Y started the race right at #1, scoring its best score ever in the first month of a quarter, which should mean record deliveries month by the end of March. It is winning the crossover race in terms of global sales for 12 months in a row now. On the other hand, the Model 3 had its lowest score since April 2021, starting the year only in 5th. This continues a trend toward the flattening of its growth rate, which we already witnessed late last year. All this means that Tesla’s predicted growth this year will come mostly as a result of the Model Y, with the remaining lineup providing minor improvements to the total tally.

In the runner-up spot, we have the Wuling Mini EV, which had a significant drop in sales (-27% YoY). It looks the little EV is starting to suffer from recent copycat competitors, namely the #10 Chery QQ Ice Cream. In only its 3rd month on the market, the Ice Cream is already scoring 10,000 units/month. SAIC might have found the Holy Grail of city EVs, but now it seems it will have to share … which raises the question: Who will be the first to market this EV concept outside of its native market? SGMW? Chery? Someone else? I mean, both SAIC (through MG) and GM are well established across the world. But if they take too long, Chery will no doubt launch it in markets where it is already well established, like Latin America.

In the last place on the podium, we have the BYD Qin Plus PHEV, with a record 18,449 registrations, followed by another BYD, the Song PHEV, also with a record performance (16,415 units). As a matter of fact, out of the 7 BYDs in the top 20, four had record scores. Besides the ones mentioned above, the #8 Dolphin continued to ramp up, this time to 10,602 units, while the Tang PHEV scored a record 8,853 registrations.

Another model scoring a record result was the #20 GAC Aion Y, which had 6,415 registrations last month. The compact MPV is set to become a familiar face here.

Outside the top 20, a reference goes out to the Leap Motor T03, another EV startup model coming from China, which scored a record 6,007 registrations. The best selling EV that isn’t present in China was the Hyundai Ioniq 5, getting 5,716 registrations. It managed to outsell the Kia Niro EV (5,271 registrations) in this particular sub-category.

Manufacturers: BYD Starts Ahead

January saw BYD win the monthly manufacturer title, thanks to a near-record 93,000 registrations coming from the resounding success of its long and ever expanding lineup.

sales of plug in electric cars

Tesla was pushed to the second spot, but overall it was a good month, with its best first month of the quarter indicating that it’s set for another record month in March. Taking the rest of the quarter into account, the margin #1 BYD benefits from is not significant (42,000 units), with the #1 spot surely going to Tesla by the end of March. The question by that time will be: At what distance will BYD be behind by the end of March? If the gap by that time will be some 50,000 units or more, then we can say that despite an eroding share of the plugin market, Tesla will have another walk in the park this year. However, if BYD manages to stay below that threshold, then we might have an interesting race on our hands. On the one hand, Tesla will have Giga Texas and Giga Berlin going online. On the other hand, 2022 will be the year that BYD starts to export EVs in significant volumes. Bring on the popcorn, because this will (might) start to look fun!

But the most striking aspect of last month’s manufacturer ranking is the dominance of Chinese automakers in this top 20. There are 11 brands among the top 20, with three of them scoring record results in January. And take into account that January is usually one of the slowest months of the year. The three automakers hitting record monthly results were #8 Chery, mostly thanks to the ramp-up of the QQ Ice Cream (off-topic: Chery Ice Cream, how poetic is that?), #13 Changan, and #19 Hozon, another Chinese EV startup that owes its success to its compact crossover lineup. On the back of Hozon’s crossover success, it is now becoming more ambitious. It is preparing to launch the Neta S, a sleek midsize sedan that hopes to run head to head with the best in the category.

sales of electric cars by the numbers


Speaking of Chinese EV startups, we have three of them in the top 20, with XPeng leading the pack in #17 — thanks to 12,986 registrations. Li Auto is in #18 and Hozon in #19. It seems these companies have surpassed their infancy survival tests and are now scaling up production (and their portfolios).

Just outside the top 20, we have one Chinese company that is a sort of elephant on the room. Geely is finally ramping up sales to decent volumes (10,751 registrations, a new record), as are their multiple smaller brands (Lynk & Co, Zeekr, etc.). The biggest Chinese manufacturer in the automotive business seems to have finally found its mojo in the EV category. Expect it to jump into the top 20 soon and become a familiar face there.

With February said to be a slower sales month in China, expect a couple of legacy brands to rebound in the top 20 next month.

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Looking at OEMs, BYD (15.5%) is starting ahead, with Shanghai Auto (SAIC + SGMW) in 2nd (8.8%) — just ahead of Tesla (8.5%) and Volkswagen Group (8.5%). Geely–Volvo (6.2%) is a distant 5th in sales of all electric cars.

Do not be surprised, though, if Geely catches the four carmakers above it. Not only does it have the domestic market to grow in, but thanks to the existing Volvo global dealership infrastructure, it will be easier for Geely’s export brands, like Lynk & Co and Zeekr, to be successful selling electric cars in overseas markets than their fellow compatriots. This has already been proven in markets like the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.

Original content from CleanTechnica.

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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 487 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes