World EV Sales Report — Tesla Model Y Wins 1st Best Seller Title In Record Year

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The last months of 2022 brought a record-fest for world plugin vehicle sales, with 3 months out of the last 4 setting new sales records. December was one of them, with over 1,200,000 registrations.

With plugin registrations jumping in 2022 an impressive 55% compared to the previous year, this year ended with the plugin market above the 10 million mark for the first time. Approximately 10.1 million units were registered in 2022.

Full electric vehicles (BEVs) ended the year growing faster than PHEVs — +57% year over year (YoY) versus +46% YoY. That allowed them to end the year with 72% of plugin EV sales, up 1 percentage point from the 71% of 2021 but still below the 74% of 2019. Interestingly, the EV sales breakdown between the two powertrains has been balancing between 69% and 74% since 2018, giving credit to those who say that PHEVs will still be around for a while.

The December plugin vehicle (PEV) share jumped to a record 21% share (15% BEV), pulling the final 2022 plugin share to 14% (10% BEV), a significant departure from the 9% (6.1% BEV) of 2021, and an even bigger departure from the 4% of 2020.

So … the Disruption Zone has gone global.

With two-digit scores being the rule in 2022, strange things started to happen, like Tesla placing a representative in the global top 10 (of all light-duty vehicles) and BYD starting to challenge Volkswagen’s domination in China. So, yes, disruption is now official and the global automotive market will never be the same again.

What previously unthinkable trends will pop up in the global market due to plugins rising? Please place your bets now.

Top Selling Plugin Electric Vehicles in the World — December 2022

The high-tide-mode Tesla Model Y won another monthly best seller title, with over 101,000 deliveries. Expect the Model Y to continue racking up a series of monthly best seller titles in 2023, as the midsize crossover will hit full maturity this year. 2023 and 2024 will probably be the best years of the current generation’s career.

Just below, the BYD Song was again runner-up, hitting a record 70,291 registrations. That could possibly be its peak performance, given that the just-landed Frigate 07 PHEV will steal a significant volume of sales from it in 2023, as will the future Sea Lion, BYD’s real Tesla Model Y competitor, which is said to land sometime in the summer.

The last place on the podium went to the Model 3, with more than 63,000 deliveries, ending well ahead of the #4 Wuling Mini EV.

Off the podium, the highlight is the #7 VW ID.4. Thanks to the ramp-up of its European and US operations, compensating the so-so performances of the model in China, the ID.4 reached a record 27,080 registrations. The German crossover even managed to end ahead of most of BYD’s large roster, with four of them ending behind the Volkswagen model. Now all the German brand needs is to fix its Chinese operations and it could get the ID.4 back into the top 5.

Speaking of Volkswagen, the ID.3 is also on the rise, having reached #12 with 14,345 registrations, its second best result ever. That only trails the inflated result of December 2020. Will the ID.3 become a regular face in the table in 2023? For Volkswagen’s sake, it better, as the ID.4 can’t do it all alone.

Both GAC and Changan placed two models in the December table. The former placed its dynamic duo Aion Y and Aion S in #13 and #14, respectively (the Aion Y got a record score). The latter placed the cutesy Lumin in #15, with a record 13,757 registrations, and the flashy Shenlan SL 03 in #18, with a record 11,650 registrations.

Being a record month, record performances were plenty, especially in the second half of the table, with the highlights being the #17 Ford Kuga/Escape hitting a record 11,945 units and the Volvo XC40 ending the month in #16 thanks to a record 9,155 registrations of its BEV version.

Finally, in #20 we have the Cadillac-Escalade-sized Li Xiang L9, which scored a record 10,582 registrations, an amazing performance for a model whose price starts at around 70,000 US dollars. That’s even more impressive when the brand also has the L8, a slightly smaller but still full size model, doing 10,189 units in only its second month on the market. With the L7, basically a 5-seat version of the L8, landing in February, one wonders if this kind of volume is sustainable in the long term. Regardless of that answer, Li’s current profit margin per unit sold must be among the best in the industry.

Interestingly, all of the 20 models present here are being made in China — 14 belong to Chinese OEMs, and 7 come from BYD alone. These stats speak volumes to the importance of the Chinese market in the broader EV industry.

Outside the top 20, there is also a lot to talk about. Going by size category, the little Dacia Spring scored a record 9,731 registrations, the compact Audi Q4 e-tron had a record 9,187 registrations, the taxi-friendly Dongfeng Fengshen E-Series got to a personal best of 9,075 registrations, and the sporty Ford Mustang Mach-E scored its first five-digit result (10,212 registrations). The Dearborn automaker looks to assure regular top 20 positions for its crossover in 2023, thanks to production ramp-up not only in Mexico but also in China.

Finally, the BMW i4 continued to ramp up deliveries, reaching 8,620 registrations in December. That was its fifth record score in a row. Still, the BMW fastback has a long way to go in order to become relevant in the midsize category. After all, despite all this constant improvement, the electric BMW was only the 9th best selling midsize model in December….

Top Selling Plugin Electric Vehicles in the World — January–December 2022

In the final 2022 table, the Tesla Model Y succeeded its sibling Model 3 in the highest place on the podium, with 771,300 units registered in 2022. That was its 1st best seller award, allowing it to also join the overall global top 5 — in 4th. Is the global leadership of the Toyota Corolla in danger in 2023?

Possibly. I could see the Tesla Model Y reach around 1 million units in 2023. The question will be if the Toyota Corolla can go further above that score. To be continued….

There was a surprise in the race for the runner-up position in December, with the BYD Song narrowly beating the Tesla Model 3 and taking the silver medal in the last stages of the race. True, with just 758 units separating the two models, it is irrelevant if the BYD model has surpassed the Model 3 or not. What is relevant is that the Model 3 is no longer unbeatable.

Not only has the sedan seen its market share erode (7% in 2018; 14% in 2019; 12% in 2020; 8% in 2021, 4.7% in 2022), but its sales were actually down 5% in 2022, ending with 476,000 registrations. Unless the “Project Highland” refresh brings something disruptive, the Model 3 could have already reached its peak year in 2021. By the way, for reference, the best sales year for the BMW 3 Series was 2007, when it had 555,000 registrations, and the Toyota Camry sales record isn’t that much higher than that.

So, the medals went to Tesla (gold for the Model Y and bronze for the Model 3) and BYD (silver for the Song). That means that the Wuling Mini EV was off of the podium this time, in the 4th position. The tiny EV was followed by a squad of BYD models (#5 Qin Plus; #6 Han; #7 Dolphin; #8 Yuan Plus/Atto 3).

In the second half of the table, let’s note some last-minute position changes. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Changan Benni EV each jumped three positions, to #13 and #14 respectively, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E was up two spots, to #18.

Finally, outside the top 20, one should mention the rising VW ID.3, which ended fewer than 1,000 units behind the #20 Kia EV6. The German hatchback is a strong candidate for a top 20 position in 2023, which would allow Volkswagen to have two models in the table.

Interestingly, 9 out of the 20 models present in the final 2022 table were absent in the 2021 table, which says a lot about the volatility and diversity in the current EV market.

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Category Leaders

Here’s a look at the 2022 segment winners:

A-segment/City Cars — This is all about Chinese EVs: The #4 Wuling Mini EV was miles ahead of the competition, followed by the #14 Changan Benni EV and the two Cherys (Cherries?) — the QQ Ice Cream and eQ1, in 3rd and 4th, respectively. Which says a lot about who will be in the pole position when (and if) autonomous pods become a thing. In 2023, the only non-Chinese EVs with any fighting chance to compete with the best will be the Dacia Spring and the Fiat 500e. And the Wuling should take the title again in 2023.

B-segment/Subcompacts — Another example of the Chinese takeover: In 2021, there was a French model (Renault Zoe) on top, followed by a Korean (Hyundai Kona EV). Now, both places belong to Chinese models. The leader was by far the #7 BYD Dolphin, followed by the#17 Hozon Neta V. The Hyundai Kona EV was 3rd, beating the Peugeot e-208. It seems clear that the 2023 winner is already chosen — the BYD Dolphin should take the title without a sweat.

C-segment/Compacts — This category in 2021 was Volkswagen’s turf, with the ID.4 on top, followed by the smaller ID.3. This time, the title went to the #8 BYD Yuan Plus/Atto 3, followed by the #9 VW ID.4 (up 43% YoY). The MPV-disguised-as-a-crossover GAC Aion Y took bronze. For 2023, expect an interesting race between the top two, with both possibly ending at around 300,000 units.

D-segment/Midsize — This is Tesla’s turf. The #1 Model Y was on top, up 88% compared to 2021, followed by the #3 Model 3. Between these two, we had the #2 BYD Song (up 340% YoY), bringing hope to the competition. Still, the category winner for 2023 has already been found: the Tesla Model Y, quite possibly with around 1 million units delivered.

E/F-segments/Full Size — Three Chinese models were on top here, with the #6 BYD Han (up 133%), #10 BYD Tang, and #19 Li Xiang One taking the top spots. If someone is looking for a podium spot in 2023, they’d better have production capabilities for at least 100,000 units/year, because that should be the bare minimum to get there. And the title winner will probably end up north of 300,000 units by end of year

Pickup Trucks — This was the first year that this category had relevant numbers, with around 36,000 registrations in total thanks to the production ramp-up of the leader Rivian R1T (16,074 registrations) and runner-up Ford F-150 Lightning (15,625 registrations). With the Ford model beating the Rivian in the last quarter of the year, expect the F-150 to be the top candidate for the best seller title. A Chinese pickup truck also ramped up, although at a slower pace — the #3 Donfeng Riich EV crossed into four-digit results for the first time ever, with 1,051 units registered.

LCVs/Vans — With data being less precise and a wide variety of models and body types, it is wiser to look at this category by OEM. In this case, Stellantis is the winner, with 36,459 registrations, followed by Hyundai–Kia (35,990) and China’s Brilliance Jinbei (28,199), which had to sweat to beat Geely for the bronze medal.

Finally, a few quick notes on fuel cell vehicles.

15,427 units were registered in 2022, 5 units fewer than in 2021. The Hyundai Nexo (11,000 units) has again beaten the Toyota Mirai (4,000 units), thanks to its relative success in its native South Korea.

Also see:

BYD #1 In World Plugin Vehicle Sales In 2022 — 2022 World EV Sales Report

Tesla #1 In World BEV Sales By Big Margin — 2022 World EV Sales Report

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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 468 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes