Californian EV maker Tesla and China’s BYD both sold nearly 250,000 electric vehicles in 2018, with BYD just pipping Tesla at the post and the next two leading sellers of EVs, China’s BAIC and BMW, falling behind by around 100,000 units.
Out of the all electric car makers worldwide, half of the top ten sellers were Chinese OEMs, a solid indication of the surging interest in “New Energy Vehicles” as they are referred to in China.
The figures, which include both battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid sales (PHEV), were gathered by The Driven from automaker’s own sales figures and where not possible, local auto news sites. They show that the race is well and truly on for EVs globally.
Looking purely at BEV sales (according to data from EV-Volumes), Tesla leads the way with BAIC running second (165,369 units), Renault-Nissan combined coming in at third (150,374 units), BYD fourth (105,420 units) and Chery fifth (64,897 units).
For Tesla, which says it sold 146,055 Model 3s in total and is about to burst onto the European and Chinese market, it is hardly a worry – in fact, CEO and founder Elon Musk openly welcomes the competition.
Model S and X sales stayed steady throughout the second half of 2018 (27,710 in Q3 and 27,607 in Q4) according to Tesla, although with the Model Y about to go into production there’s no doubt people after an all-electric SUV made by the EV pioneer may begin to hold back.
For Chinese OEMs, the booming sales reflect a 62% increase from 2017 and put the Chinese domestic market leagues ahead of the US – 1.3 million NEVs were sold in 2018 in China according to the World Economic Forum.
BYD’s sales were driven by its popular e6 of which it sold 46,251 according to EV-Volumes, as well as its Song PHEV (39,318 units), Tang PHEV (37,148 units) and Yuan EV (35,699 units) – however as reported by Gasgoo.com, the figures could be more like around the 60,000 mark for the Tang.
For BAIC, its winner was the EC Series, of which it sold 90,637 – this is corroborated by both EV-Volumes and Gasgoo.com. It’s EX Series followed with 32,810 units sold for 2018.
BMW as we know has been leading the way in Europe, which accounted for over half of it’s electrified sales in 2018 and gave it a 16% market share for the region.
The US proved to be BMW’s next biggest market, with over 25,000 BMW and Mini BEVs and PHEVs sold last year.
Volkswagen AG have been a little more obtuse about their electrified sales for 2018, with its own sales presser deliberately neglecting to mention the word electric even once.
No doubt still smarting from the Dieselgate scandal, the outpouring of electric goals by the group including killing diesel and petrol options from 2026, and adding 50 all-electric models by 2025 indicates a strong wish to rectify those figures.
SAIC (Roewe and MG) and Chery both held their ground with models like the Chery eQ EV which made up half of Chery’s EV sales for 2018 (46,967 units), and SAIC’s Roewe Ei6 PHEV.
For Nissan, which has gained a considerable following with its all-electric Leaf, 83,527 is encouraging but no doubt affected by surging Model 3 sales in the US, where sales increased throughout the year to 12,170 in Q4 2018 totalling 14,715 units sold for the entire year.
Europe on the other hand represented over half of Leaf sales, ending the year with 43,090 units sold in 2018.
Geely, another Chinese OEM, came in at 9 with 68,549 NEVs sold including its newly launched Emgrand EV450, Bo Rui GE, Emgrand GSe and LYNK & CO 01 PHEV models.
Last but by no means not least is Hyundai, which has been kicking goals with its Ioniq EV outdoing its PHEV and hybrid counterparts, and the Kona EV proving increasingly popular in export markets.
Worldwide, Hyundai sold 22,787 Kona EVs and 21,002 Ioniq EVs, compared to 8,977 Ioniq PHEVs and only 350 Sonata PHEVs.
Renault were pushed out of the top 10 with 39,458 Zoes and 8,747 Kangoos sold totalling 49,600 EV sales for 2018, followed closely by Mitsubishi – whose sales were mainly its Outlander PHEV (42,337 units).
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.