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Top 20 Electric Cars in the World — February 2022

Global plugin vehicle registrations were up 99% in February 2022 compared to February 2021. There were 541,000 registrations, representing 9.3% share (6.4% BEV share) of the overall auto market. That’s almost a doubling of plugin vehicle sales from a year ago, which means that the global automotive market is already entering the Electric Disruption Zone.

Add the 587,000 units of plugless hybrids registered in February and we have some 20% of the overall global market having some form of electrification last month. With March possibly being a record month, we should see over 25% share of electrified registrations!

In another note on plugless bybrids, last month’s growth rate was just 7%, the lowest since the Covid-19 lockdown months of April and May 2020. That could mean that this year could be Peak HEV, with 2023 being the start of downhill sales for this kind of powertrain. We’ll see.

(Toyota, take notice….)

Peak HEV is just one of the weird events that happens once EV disruption hits the automotive market. It is not only about fuel share, like diesel sales falling off a cliff in Europe. It is also about OEM standings, like the rise of Chinese OEMs in their home market, Volkswagen Group losing its grip on Europe, or the future inclusion of Tesla among what is currently the US Big 4 (the others being Toyota, GM, Stellantis, and Ford).

Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) represented 69% of plugin registrations in February, in line with the year-to-date tally (70%).

The second half of the table saw legacy models bounce back, with several re-entries and debuts, the most important of them being the #16 Kia EV6. The Korean model hit a record 5,360 units, so it seems the production ramp-up of the E-GMP siblings from Hyundai–Kia is in full swing. Toyota’s RAV4 PHEV (also known as Wildlander in China) returned to the table, in #15, just like the #18 Kia Niro EV, and even the veteran Nissan Leaf showed up on the table, in #17. In the model ranking, there was a #1 and #2 win for Tesla, with the Model Y firm at the top with over 45,000 registrations. The Model 3 had 30,000 registrations, while the little Wuling Mini EV took the bronze medal.

Just off the podium we have a BYD armada, with five(!) models between the 4th and 9th position. Only the #7 Hyundai Ioniq 5 between them (with a record 9,284 registrations, making it the best selling legacy model). Among them, a couple deserve a mention for scoring record performances in the slowest month of the year. That’s the case of the #4 Song PHEV, with 19,061 registrations, which is proving to still be ramping up deliveries. Adding the BEV version’s sales to the tally (an extra 3,711 units), the midsize SUV gets 22,772 registrations, which is already above the BYD Qin Plus’s total tally (22,507 units). The Tang PHEV also hit a record score, 10,032 registrations, beating the remaining full-size competition (BYD Han and Li Xiang One), which means that BYD has not one (Han), but two contenders for the title of Best Seller in the full size category.

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 (8,566 registrations) is now the undisputed leader of its segment, being the only B-segment/subcompact in last month’s top 20.

Still in the traditional OEM camp, despite production constraints (ahem, batteries), the Ford Mustang Mach-E joined the table in #20. Expect the Ford model to become a regular here.

Outside the top 20, the Fiat 500e delivered 4,133 units, allowing it to be 4th in the city car category, while the compact BYD Yuan Plus scored 4,517 registrations in only its second month on the market — expect it to join the table soon.

Looking at the models in this top 20 by size category, we have 3 models belonging to the full size category (E-segment), 9 midsizers (D-segment), 4 compacts (C-segment), 1 subcompact (B-segment), and 3 city cars (A-segment). Comparing them to the best sellers in the overall market, where half of them are compacts (C-segment), one can see that right now that plugins are skewed towards the higher end of the market. 12 models are either midsize or full size, and comparing the overall top 10 with the plugin top 20, Toyota’s success is threatened, having 3 in the former and just 1 in the latter. But Honda is even worse, because while it has two models in the overall top 10 (Civic and CR-V), it has none in the plugin … top 100!

In the year-to-date (YTD) table, the Tesla Model 3 jumped to the 3rd position, but it is down 15% quarter over quarter (first two months of Q4 ’21 vs first two months of Q1 ’22), proving that Tesla’s growth is now on the shoulders of the Model Y. But with the runner-up Wuling Mini EV experiencing a slow start in 2022, down 34% QoQ, and an expected Tesla peak in March, expect the midsize sedan to reach the silver position by the end of the quarter.

Three BYDs have surpassed the Volkswagen ID.4, with the #7 BYD Dolphin, #8 BYD Han EV, and #9 BYD Tang PHEV all surpassing the German crossover in February.

Most impressive is the fact that the Dolphin and Tang PHEV are experiencing significant delivery ramp-ups, +33% QoQ and +28% QoQ respectively, in the two slowest months of the year!

In the second half of the table, the highlights are two legacy electric cars jumping back into the top 20. The #14 Hyundai Ioniq 5 did so even without being present in the immense Chinese market, responsible for over 50% of all plugin registrations in the world. The Hyundai is the only model in the table managing such a feat. The other legacy model to join the table was the Toyota RAV4 PHEV, which re-joined the table in #18.

BYD Still in #1

In February, BYD’s strong start of the year had another chapter, clocking close to 88,000 registrations. It is expected the Shenzhen automaker is pushing some 110,000 units in March, which won’t be enough to beat Tesla in its peak month, but will allow that for the first time ever, two automakers reach 6 digits in one month!

Below the top two, Chinese automakers weren’t as dominating as in January. That allowed others to shine, like Hyundai and Kia, jumping into the top 10 in #7 and #9, respectively. That’s thanks to the success of their e-GMP models (Ioniq 5 and EV6). Peugeot jumped to #16, while Ford (#18) and Toyota (#20) joined the table, with the first helped by the good month of the Mustang Mach-E and the second by the RAV4 PHEV’s continued success.

Geely joined the top 20 in #15 after years of forgettable performances. The Chinese automaker finally seems to have its act together and looks poised to become a relevant automaker in the EV industry.

In the YTD table, there wasn’t much to report in the top positions. BYD is still ahead of Tesla, but expect the #1 spot will go to Tesla by the end of March. The question by that time will be: At what distance will BYD be behind? If the gap by that time will be some 20,000 units or more, then we can say that despite an eroding share of the plugin market, Tesla will be safe this year for another title. 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 might start to look fun!

Below these two, which are really in a league of their own, the SGMW joint venture is comfortable in 3rd. Below it, Volkswagen is now in 4th, having surpassed BMW, with Mercedes doing the same to SAIC in the race for the 6th spot. Meanwhile, #8 Volvo and #9 Hyundai have both surpassed Chery.

In the second half of the table, the big news is Geely joining the table, in #16, with the Chinese brand looking to climb a few more positions in the next few months.

Finally, a reference goes out to Ford, which thanks to a strong February is now some 2,000 units below #20 XPeng. We might see the Dearborn automaker join the table in the next few months.

Looking at registrations by OEM, leader BYD increased its share slightly, from 15.5% to 15.8%, while Tesla is now in 2nd place, with 11.4% share (it had 12.8% a year ago). That relegated SAIC to 3rd place, with the Chinese OEM losing 0.3% on the way (8.8% a month ago, 8.5% now).

Below the podium, Volkswagen Group (8.3%, down from 8.5% last month) is 4th, with the German conglomerate looking to surpass SAIC next month.

As for the C-League, below the 4 big OEMs, the current leader is Geely–Volvo (6.3%, up 0.1%). It has a comfortable 1% lead over rising #6 Hyundai–Kia, which surpassed Stellantis last month, relegating the multinational conglomerate to 7th.

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Written By

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.


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