Market analyst firm Canalys has, in new research on the global electric vehicle market, estimated that 6.5 million electric vehicles (EVs) were sold globally in 2021 – an increase of 109% on 2020. The analysis includes battery-electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars.
Overall, the total global car market grew only 4% in 2021, as it continued to struggle with COVID-19 restrictions and chip shortages.
Demand for EVs stayed strong in 2021, with EV sales representing 9% of all passenger car sales last year. However, it is likely many more would have been sold, had it not been for the chronic component shortages still affecting every carmaker around the world.
The majority of EVs were sales took place in China and Europe last year. Indeed, an impressive 85% of EVs sold globally were delivered to customers in mainland China and Europe: 3.2 million in mainland China and 2.3 million in Europe. In contrast, 535,000 EVs were sold in the United States, accounting for just 4% of new cars in the country – although demand is growing.
Traditional car makers are increasingly electrifying their product ranges in Europe. EVs represented 19% of total car sales in 2021, with 2.3 million vehicles delivered. The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2021, but Volkswagen Group was the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles, with several models from Audi, Skoda and VW selling well.
“Demand for EVs continues to be strong in Europe. In fact, in many European countries EVs represented more than a quarter of new cars sold. but customers must be patient. A nine to 12 month wait time for a new EV is not unusual,” said Ashwin Amberkar, Analyst at Canalys.
In mainland China, with the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV easily the best-selling EV model in 2021, its success has inspired other car makers to launch similar cars. EVs from Tesla held the next two places, with the Model Y overtaking the Model 3. Competition is increasing, however. BYD has expanded its range of EVs and was the leading EV brand in China with several popular fully electric and plug-in hybrid models. Other brands with strong EV sales in 2021 in mainland China included Aion, Changan, Chery, Li Xiang, Ora, Roewe and Xpeng.
“Over 3.2 million EVs were sold in Mainland China in 2021 – half of all electric cars sold worldwide, and 2 million more than were sold in the country in 2020. Many new models are launching every month in each important market segment, from tiny, inexpensive city cars to mainstream and premium sedans and SUVs,” said Jason Low, Principal Analyst at Canalys.
“15% of new cars sold in 2021 in Mainland China were EVs – more than double the percentage in 2020, and there is still a huge opportunity for future growth in 2022 and beyond.”
Meanwhile, sales of EVs in the US continue to lag those in mainland China and Europe. While just 4% of new cars sold in the US last year were EVs, several new electric models were launched and sales momentum and consumer interest are increasing. Tesla continues to dominate EV sales in the US, with an estimated share of just under 60%.
“The competition’s EV sales are nowhere near Tesla’s in the US since Model 3 shipments ramped up in 2018. Tesla even outsells many premium car brands in the overall market,” said Chris Jones, VP and Chief Analyst at Canalys.
“Pick-up trucks will give the US EV market a huge lift in 2022. Rivian was first to deliver at the end of 2021, while Ford and GM have had strong interest in the F-150 Lightning and GMC Hummer Pickup respectively.”