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The Tesla Model 3 was the world’s best selling EV in 2021, with 501,000 sales. Picture: REUTERS
The Tesla Model 3 was the world’s best selling EV in 2021, with 501,000 sales. Picture: REUTERS

Global electric-vehicle (EV) sales more than doubled in 2021, bucking the trend in what was a difficult year for the automotive industry due to the global chip shortage.

According to EV-volumes.com, sales of battery-powered cars, light trucks and commercial vehicles reached 6.75-million units in 2021, 108% more than in 2020. This was against a total auto market that improved by only 4.7% over the crisis year of 2020, where the Covid-19 pandemic shrank the market for conventional cars and there were supply chain bottlenecks.

The global share of EVs — which includes battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) — grew to 8.3% from 4.2% in 2020. BEVs represented 71% of total EV sales and PHEVs 29%.

With a number of countries set to ban the sale of internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles soon, EV growth has spiked over the past three years. In 2019, 2.2-million electric cars were sold, representing only 2.5% of global car sales.

In the whole of 2012, about 130,000 electric cars were sold worldwide. Today, that many are sold in the space of a single week, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It estimates there are about 16-million electric cars on the road worldwide, consuming about 30 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity a year, the equivalent of all the electricity generated in Ireland.

In the last ten years the global market share of EVs has grown from 0.2% to 8.3%. Picture: SUPPLIED
In the last ten years the global market share of EVs has grown from 0.2% to 8.3%. Picture: SUPPLIED

China, Europe and the US account for about 90% of global electric car sales. In China, EV sales nearly tripled to 3.4-million in 2021; in Europe they increased by almost 70% to 2.3-million; and in the US sales more than doubled to surpass 735,000 units.

Tesla was the leading brand, with 936,000 deliveries, more than doubling its 436,000 sales of 2020, and ahead of Volkswagen and China’s BYD.

Tesla’s Model 3 was the most popular EV model, with 501,000 sales in 2021, followed by the Wuling Mini EV (424,000), the Tesla Model Y (411,000), and Volkswagen’s VW ID.4 (122,000).

Despite impressive growth in major markets, the sales of electric cars are not advancing at the same pace globally.

EV sales more than doubled in SA in 2021 with the introduction of new cars like the BMW iX and Audi E-Tron, but off a very low base. There were 218 EVs sold in SA in 2021 for a market share of 0.046% of the 464,122 new vehicles sold, compared with 92 EVs in 2020 (0.02% of that year’s 380,206 market total).

EV-volumes.com expects global EV sales to reach about 9.5-million units in 2022, higher if remaining issues in supply and logistics are resolved.

EV Sales in SA: 2021

Mini Cooper SE — 68

BMW iX — 63

Porsche Taycan — 33

BMW i3 — 20

Jaguar I-Pace — 19

Audi E-Tron — 15

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