Over 145,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans were delivered in 2018, making it the single most popular electric car last year, followed by Chinese carmaker BJEC’s EC180 and 200 EV models and Japan’s Nissan Leaf.
Along with deliveries of premium stablemates, the Tesla Model S sedan and Tesla Model X SUV, the Californian carmaker has in total sold just over 245,000 vehicles in the last twelve month, confirming its place as the world’s most successful electric car manufacturer.
These are the final results as delivered by electric car sales reporters at EV-Volumes, which keeps count of plug-in electric car sales (both electric and plug-in hybrid).
Other popular models for 2018 included Chinese BYD’s e5 series (both the 300 and 450 variants, the numbers referring to driving range), the second generation Toyota Prius PHEV, Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, BYD’s Qin PHEV and French carmaker Renault’s Zoe electric hatchback.
While Nissan’s popular Leaf (so far still leading the way as Europe’s most best-selling electric car) has just sold 400,000 units worldwide, it has done so over an 9 year period.
The Tesla Model 3 on the other hand sold the majority of all units in the previous year, ramping up from its release in mid-2017 – figures to date will not be known until the Californian carmaker’s Q1 2019 reporting>
With its recent arrival on European and Chinese markets (reports are that almost 1,000 Model 3s have been delivered in Germany alone in the last month), sales are expected to continue ramping.
Which brings us to China, which continues to prove itself a driving force as the planet’s largest single EV market.
The Asian economic giant has seen a 78 per cent increase in EV sales from 2017, with 1.18 million deliveries in 2018 compared to 663,000 the previous year.
Over half of the entire world’s “new energy vehicle” sales were in China in 2018 (56 per cent to be exact), a stark contrast to neighbor Japan which saw a drop in plug-in sales for the Toyota Prius PHEV after the second generation Nissan Leaf’s arrival on the market in late 2017.
Both Europe and the USA saw an increase in plug-in sales – for Europe, a 34 per cent increase thanks to strong markets in southern and central Europe and in particular due to a rapid recovery in EV sales in the Netherlands – there are now 49,000 EVs in the Dutch nation according to its industry associations.
Norway was again the leader in terms of EV adoption – 4 out of 10 cars sold in the Scandinavian country in 2018 were electric – followed by neighbours Iceland (17.5%) and Sweden (7.2%).
The USA saw a 79 percent increase that can be attributed solely to the success of the Tesla Model 3 – and with the release of the base $US35,000 ($A49,500 at today’s rates) Model 3 on March 1, 2019, this can also be expected to continue rising.
In Australia, figures are to date only included in the EV-Volumes “other” figures, and account for a pathetically low portion of that growth at that – 0.3 per cent of national sales in 2018 according to figures from V-facts and even then if viewed optimistically.
However, with a number of more affordable electric car models arriving on the Australian market this year to join the Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf (both are now confirmed to sell for under $A50,000, plus on roads) – such as the Hyundai Kona EV, and of course the Tesla Model 3 – the Australia market should grow.
Global plug-in electric sales now account for 2.2% of the global fleet, with China followed distantly by the USA (even with its record Model 3 sales), then Norway which is the world leader by market share, then Germany, UK, Japan, France, Canada, South Korea, and Sweden.
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.