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Top Selling Auto Brands & Auto Groups for EV Sales Globally

We’ve looked at the top selling plugin vehicle models in the world. Let’s now take a look at the auto brands and auto groups that sell the most plugin vehicles worldwide.

The Rise & Rise of BYD

In October, BYD’s record streak continued, scoring more than 200,000 registrations again, its 8th record score in a row. And while the Shenzhen automaker is still heavily dependent on its domestic market, it is also sowing the first seeds of its investments in export markets. As such, in October it reached three-digit results in seven different markets: Israel, where it is looking to remove Geely from #1 in 2023; New Zealand, where it hopes to remove Tesla from #1 next year; Singapore (see New Zealand); Norway; Colombia, where it is already #1 this year; Uruguay (see Colombia), and Costa Rica (see Colombia).

Tesla was second, but despite this, it had reasons to celebrate, because it scored its best first month of the quarter result ever. I think we can expect another record quarter. How high will Tesla go in Q4? Any bet is still good this early in the quarter, but some expectations I have been reading (500,000+ units; 530,000 units) are simply not realistic. At this point, I would say 430,000+ units is possible, but of course, the more, the merrier.

Auto Brands Selling the Most Plugin Vehicles | October 2022

Down from the rarefied stratosphere where BYD and Tesla live, the SGMW joint venture secured the last place on the October podium. And by the way, GM, when are you going to start selling the little Wuling Mini EV (or something like it) in overseas markets?

Off the podium, we had three record performances, all of them coming from Chinese OEMs. In #5, we have surging Changan, benefitting from the fast ramp-up across its lineup, namely the cutesy Lumin and the Shenlan SL03 sedan. Changan had a record 34,145 registrations and could reach some 40,000 units/month in December. In #14, we have Hozon, which is pushing its lineup (Neta V and Neta U) to consecutive records while it awaits the ramp-up of its Neta S large sedan. This little-known startup is now the best selling Chinese automotive startup! Finally, in #19, we have AITO, the latest (and coolest?) Chinese new blood project. It continued its apparent never-ending production ramp-up. One wonders where the Huawei-backed startup will find its cruising speed.

An interesting feature of #10 SAIC is that while most Chinese OEMs base their sales in their domestic market, with overseas markets being nothing more than an afterthought, SAIC has a more balanced distribution, with only 52% of sales coming from China. While Europe already representing close to a third of the automaker’s registrations, the Shanghai producer also has a foothold in markets like Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and India, making it the most globalized of the Chinese new energy vehicle makers.

This time, legacy OEMs also had some brilliant results, starting with the year best performance of #16 Audi, with 17,652 registrations. That was thanks to the recent success of the compact Audi Q4 e-tron and the consistent results of the big Audi e-tron. Has the German automaker found its dynamic duo?

#18 Ford and #20 Peugeot have returned to the table. In the case of the US automaker, this is thanks to the success of the Mustang Mach-E and Ford Escape/Kuga PHEV. The French brand has a broader lineup. While the e-208 EV is the backbone of the brand, the small hatchback is in no small measure helped by its siblings, like the e-2008 EV small crossover, the 3008 PHEV crossover, or the 308 PHEV hatchback. With the 4008 (BEV+PHEV) sporty crossover/liftback/thingy and 308 BEV waiting on the sidelines to join the race early next year, expect the French make to continue showing up regularly here.

Best Selling Brands in World for Plugin Vehicles | January–October 2022

In the year-to-date (YTD) table, the top two position holders are in a different galaxy. By now, BYD can already start to prepare this year’s manufacturer title party. BYD has a 300,000+ unit lead over second-placed Tesla.

Below these two, the SGMW joint venture is comfortable in 3rd and shouldn’t be bothered before the end of the year by 4th placed Volkswagen.

The first position change happened in the #7 spot, with GAC surpassing Chery. Will the Guangzhou brand be able to reach 6th placed Mercedes? The two brands are separated by fewer than 13,000 registrations in 2022. It is a large number to recover in just two months, but with December being known for last-minute surprises, you never know.

The race between #10 SAIC and #11 Hyundai is heating up. With the Shanghai brand slowing down lately, the Korean brand is closing in. The two brands are now separated by just 2,530 units. In December, we might see Hyundai surpass SAIC in the last stage of the race.

Two other interesting races are happening in #13. Rising Changan is looking to surpass Dongfeng in November, while in #15, Audi is being pressured by Volvo — we might see the Swede climb a position next month.

Meanwhile, #17 Hozon cemented its position as the best of the Chinese new blood, as it is now the sole representative of the category in the top 20. This is also due to the fact that XPeng dropped out of the top 20, with the startup brand suffering from a number of problems: Slow demand of the midsize P5, buyers waiting for the new G3 compact crossover and revised P7 full-size sedan, and troubles ramping up production of the new G9 big SUV.

XPeng’s issues allowed others to climb up the table. We now have Peugeot recovering the last place on the table. Ford nudged its way up to #19.

With #18 Great Wall less than a thousand units ahead, expect the Dearborn-based automaker to try to climb another spot in November.

Top Selling Auto Groups for Plugin Vehicle Sales | January–October 2022

Let’s look at registrations by OEM. BYD reinforced its lead by gaining 0.7% share, going up to 18%, while #2 Tesla lost 0.5% share, dropping to 12.8%.

#3 Volkswagen Group (8%) and #4 SAIC (7.6%) remained in their seats, with the same share they had in the previous month, so nothing to see here.

Geely–Volvo (5.8%, up 0.1%) remained in 5th, while #6 Hyundai–Kia (4.9%, down from 5%) lost some ground to #7 Stellantis (steady at 4.8%) — we might see a position change between these two by the end of the year.

Top Selling Auto Groups for Fully Electric Vehicle Sales | January–October 2022

Vision, Strategy, & Execution

In disruptive times, the important thing is to have the right vision of the future and the right strategy for how to get there.

But once stability starts to set in, the right execution of the strategy becomes a cornerstone for success.

  1. In the beginning of the 3rd “Age of the Electric Car,” this was what set Tesla apart from other pioneers like Nissan, GM and BYD.
  2. They had the best vision (100% BEVs from the start, dense and reliable fast-charging infrastructure), together with the best strategy (start with an expensive EV, for image and margin purposes, and then progressively go down the price range).
  3. Of course, it helped that their first volume model (the Model S) was a home run. It is undoubtedly set to become a future classic, and personally, still my favorite Tesla … after 10 years.
  4. Then … things started to go sideways. While on paper the Model X was sure to be another home run — after all, who doesn’t prefer a big SUV over a big sedan? Only, the execution of the plan wasn’t as flawless as with the Model S. The launch was delayed, the falcon-wing were a headache, etc.
  5. But because most competitors were still years behind in their EV developments and/or still with their heads buried in the sand, it became another disruptive model — if due to nothing else, because it was basically the only game in town.
  6. The same thing happened with the launch of the Tesla Model 3, still profiting from the best vision and strategy in the game. Phase II of the Tesla Master Plan opened the doors for mainstream acceptance of EVs, continuing to be the only game in town. Execution shortcomings were once again forgiven, as there wasn’t really anything that could compete with the Model 3.
  7. Fast forward to late 2022 and we are in a transition process. Not only are there plenty of competitors, especially in China, but many of them are genuinely good, or in even in some cases, better than the EV gold standard. In many countries, fast charging is no longer the headache it was a few years back. So, the best vision and strategy alone are no longer enough. Execution is becoming increasingly important.

Here is a look at how the top OEMs stand regarding Vision, Strategy, and Execution:

Tesla — They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and in that case, Tesla can be flattered, because recent years have proven that Tesla’s vision and strategy were on target (see point 2). So, either willingly (look at Chinese startups) or not (some of the legacy OEMs), Tesla’s strategy now has a lot of followers. BUT…

Tesla’s execution wasn’t always on target. Besides what was mentioned in points 4 & 5, Tesla has made several mistakes when executing its plans. Just looking at the Model S/X, we can see how Tesla lost the plot in the full size category.

Starting when they launched Giga Shanghai, at the time, they should have launched local production of the Model S/X right after the Model 3. The flagship Teslas could have gained scale there and grown their sales significantly. Case in point: BYD’s Han and Tang should reach over 400,000 units this year, almost all reliant on China. Those 400,000 units could have gone to Tesla if they had local production of their flagship models. And why is Tesla taking so long to relaunch its flagship EVs in the rest of the world?…

Another error with the Model S/X regards the halo effect that these models had: For years, the Model S was rightly considered the best EV in the world. Now? Not so much. If you want cool factor, you can choose a Porsche Taycan. EV specs? Lucid Air. Best interior? Mercedes EQS. Price? There are Model S–like Chinese EVs being sold at Model 3–like prices. So … what’s left? Charging infrastructure?

That is why both the Model S and X are being outsold by the competition, not only by legacy OEM models (Audi e-tron — 39,000 vs. Tesla Model S 32,000 vs Model X — 23,000), but especially due to Chinese full-size EVs like the Zeekr 001 (50,000 units) or BYD Han EV (118k). Actually, compared to this last one, it’s like a slaughter — the Model S doesn’t even stand a chance. What’s the word I’m searching here? Umm…

With all of this I do not mean to say that Tesla is doomed. It’s really the opposite — the company’s future is bright. But to avoid Tesla from defeating itself, it needs to start executing its plans as well as its vision and strategy. But for that to happen, Tesla needs to change. It is no longer a struggling startup. Tesla is part of the establishment, whether executives and employees like it or not.

Which means more “normal” OEM behavior, sharing responsibilities with other manufacturers, not fighting them on common issues (ahem, NACS…), more professional product development and management that isn’t tied to the humours and wishes of one single person, etc.

Being always right is simply impossible, and systematically attacking whoever disagrees with you will sooner or later bite you in the rear. Just ask Vladimir Putin….

(Wow, this ended up being longer than I expected….)

BYD — The story behind the Shenzhen-based automaker is an interesting one. Starting out as a battery company that bought a car company, BYD was an early pioneer with a clear vision for the future (plugins are the way to go). But it failed on the strategy (taxi-friendly EVs weren’t really the right approach). Still, this was enough to win three Global Best Seller titles (2015, 2016, 2017), thanks to the success of models like the BYD Tang PHEV.

But the execution of its models wasn’t really top notch. The designs weren’t inspiring and the specs didn’t provided a competitive edge. All this changed when BYD hired Wolfgang Egger as Design Director in 2017. He’s the creator of masterpieces like the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione and the Alfa Romeo 156.

Three years later, in 2020, the BYD Han EV changed everything. Taking a page from Tesla, the Han was like the second coming of BYD. It was in the form of an attractive flagship sedan, with standout battery technology, allowing it to create a halo effect over the rest of the model lineup. This was all while improving margins, thanks to the Han’s higher price compared with the rest of the lineup.

From then on, with a similar vision as Tesla, and now with a similar strategy but with faster execution (to say better is still up for debate), BYD grew, and grew, and grew … to the point where this year it will pick up its 4th manufacturer title.

(Interesting factoid: since 2015, all manufacturer titles have been split between BYD and Tesla. It is a bit like La Liga at this point, but the Barcelona–Real Madrid dominance even got broken once in that timeframe.)

Volkswagen Group — Or “when a near death experience saves someone.” Up until the Dieselgate scandal, the German conglomerate wasn’t really into EVs, with its vision of the future still deeply routed in diesel vehicles (where the auto group seemingly had a significant competitive edge).

But in 2015, with the vehicle emission scandal busting open, Volkswagen was immersed in a PR nightmare and they needed to find a way out. So, they became Born Again EV believers. Besides putting into production the Audi e-tron and Porsche Taycan, which had reached concept form in 2015, Volkswagen Group in the following year showed the I.D. Concept, which showcased the group’s newfound faith in electromobility. It was an early reveal of what was going to be the VW ID.3 and the MEB platform that was going to be based on.

With a flurry of new models starting in 2020, and clear electrification targets (50% BEV by 2030, 100% by 2040), the vision was set. But then the strategy … started to get complicated. First, it was the MEB platform for mainstream cars. Then, PPE for the premium models around 2023. And finally, a simplified MEB-Lite for small EVs by 2025. So far, so good. But then, in 2021, when the original strategy was starting to get put into practice, a new platform, called SSP, was said to come into fruition in 2026. This new one would replace the previous ones, starting in 2026. By that time, the oldest member will be the VW ID.3, at just 5 years old…. Confusing, right?

The execution of the strategy wasn’t perfect either. It had several delays, especially in the software area, while the initial bet on the Volkswagen ID.3 showed to be a failed one, as buyers were more willing to buy the VW ID.4 crossover instead of the vanilla-designed hatchback. And to top it all off, Chinese deployment of the MEB models left a lot to be desired, endangering the future survival of the brand in its biggest market.

The new CEO has a lot to fix, and while he may not have the same broadside vision of his predecessor, if he can deliver a clearer strategy and, more importantly, better execution of what needs to be done, then Volkswagen Group will remain one of the Big Players on the market.

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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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