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Electric Cars Sold In Record Numbers Globally In 2021

Nearly 6.5 million plug-in electric vehicles were sold across last year, over 900k of them in December

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Image: Wuling

New electric vehicle sales are increasing at such a rapid rate that pretty much every month of 2021 set a new record for sales. November saw just over 720,000 new plug-in vehicle registrations, and that record was soundly trounced when the December numbers came in at over 907,000. The new December record represents a nearly 60 percent increase in new EV registrations over December 2020.

Not only are quantities of new electric vehicle registrations up, but electric vehicle registrations as a share of the total are way up. That December record represented some 15 percent of total vehicle registrations that month! According to data from EV-Volumes via Inside EVs, 11 percent of all vehicles sold in December were battery electric, while an extra four percent were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Meanwhile, traditional self-charging hybrids were responsible for 650,000 new registrations, trending pretty flat.


With just shy of 6.5 million new electrics hitting the ground in 2021, that represents more than double the 3.1 million sold in 2020. As an annual sales percentage of the market, battery electrics were around 6.1 percent of all cars sold, and PHEVs were about 2.9 percent. So give or take one in every eleven cars sold worldwide in 2021 had a plug.

As expected, Tesla’s massive deliveries in 2021 were responsible for the lion’s share of this increase. The number one best selling electric car in the world was Big T’s Model 3, while the Model Y came in third, beat in the numbers game by China’s $5,000 Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV. In terms of sheer volume, nothing else came even close, with the fourth best selling EV being Volkswagen’s ID.4, which moved just 121,631 units last year.


In some markets EV market share rates have crested 10 percent of total, particularly those in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, here in the U.S. hybrids are still far outstripping BEV sales. In 2021 hybrid vehicle sales jumped 76 percent, accounting for five percent of light vehicle sales. BEVs increased by a larger percentage, 83 percent year over year, but are still only accountable for about 3 percent of the market. US EV sales seem to have nearly doubled every year for the last ten, so perhaps we’ll see BEVs eclipse hybrids in 2022.

Obviously this points to Tesla being incredibly popular around the globe, but as more competition comes out from mainstream manufacturers and scales to meet demand, will Tesla continue to have the market dominance that it currently enjoys? It’s somewhat telling that the most popular EV is over $40,000 and the next most popular EV is under 6 grand. Maybe it’s time for some less expensive options.