Tesla, VW dominate global electric vehicle sales in 2021

Read time 3min 40sec

Despite supply chain constraints, global electric vehicle sales in the first half of 2021 increased by an estimated 160%, with around 2.6 million units sold.

This is according to the latest global EV market research report, “Electric vehicle outlook: 2021 and beyond”, compiled by research firm Canalys. EVs include fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Despite a global shortage of components, production interruptions due to the pandemic and the longer-term weakness in the overall market, the EV sector continued to be a bright spot in the motoring industry in H1 2021.

The report notes the growth of EV sales far exceeded that of the total global gas-powered vehicle market, which was up 26%, with demand returning as COVID-19 restrictions eased in many markets, though overall car sales are still below pre-pandemic levels.

According to the report, strong demand for EVs continued into 2021, specifically in the two leading markets – Mainland China and Europe.

Around 1.1 million EVs were sold in H1 2021 in Mainland China, accounting for 12% of all passenger cars sold there. One million EVs were sold in Europe, accounting for 15% of new cars. Sales of EVs in the two markets represented a combined 87% of all EV sales worldwide.

In comparison, the US EV market continues to lag – 250 000 EVs were sold in the US in H1 2021, representing only 3% of new cars sold.

While the report does not provide any Africa-related statistics, the uYilo e-Mobility Programme previously told ITWeb that EV uptake has slowly increased in SA, which is ahead of other African countries – having reached 1 332 vehicles on local roads by the end of February 2021, up from 1 119 at the end of 2019.

The top five best-selling EVs:

  • Tesla led the worldwide EV market with a 15% share, with sales remaining strong in production in Mainland China.
  • Volkswagen Group was second, with a 13% market share, and it led in Europe.
  • SGMW, the combination of SAIC, GM and Wuling, came third with an 11% market share.
  • BMW Group came fourth, with a 6% share in H1 2021.
  • Stellantis was fifth with 6% share.

China dominates

“Demand for EVs remains buoyant in Mainland China; 1.1 million units were sold in H1 2021 – nearly as many as were sold in the whole of 2020,” says Chris Jones, chief analyst and VP, automotive and e-mobility at Canalys.

“Only 6% of cars sold in 2020 in Mainland China were EVs – it will be more than double that for full-year 2021.”

Tesla’s success in Mainland China has motivated Chinese carmakers to quickly expand their EV offerings.

In some European countries, EVs represent more than a quarter of new cars sold. Norway remains the global leader for EV adoption at over 80% of new car sales, according to Canalys.

“Companies are expanding their EV line-ups, offering consumers greater choice,” says Sandy Fitzpatrick, VP of automotive and e-mobility at Canalys.

“The European Union has set emissions targets for carmakers. Individual European countries offer consumer incentives and have set targets to ban the sale of combustion engine vehicles. The challenge for the carmakers is keeping up with EV demand during the component shortage crisis.”

US plays catch-up

Recognising the poor EV uptake in the US, president Joe Biden proposed a $174 billion investment, with incentives and substantial charging infrastructure deployments to “win the EV market”. He has committed to 40% to 50% of all new cars sales being EVs by 2030.

“One of the reasons for the slow uptake of EVs in the US is limited vehicle choice. But carmakers are set to launch the first EVs in the hugely popular pick-up truck segment in the US soon. If they’re successful, the perception of EVs should quickly change,”adds Fitzpatrick.

According to the International Energy Agency, Africa’s significant gap in EV adoption stems from various socio-economic challenges faced by the continent. These include the lack of government policies which create a favourable environment for adoption, poor infrastructural development (roads, electricity, EV charging stations), and EV prices remaining out of reach for an average African.

See also