Plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) have transcended one million sales worldwide.
Included in this count are highway legal, light-duty all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids sold in markets around the globe.
Plug-in cars started in negligible volumes last decade, but the mass-market began just less than five years ago. The first half million came in July 2014, and now one year and two months later another half million have been sold.
In December 2014 HybridCars.com reported 712,000 plug-in sales globally, and nearly 300,000 more sales have taken place over the past nine months.
As of August 2015 the count was 985,000 less Japanese sales numbers which were not reported yet, and as of mid-September, an estimated 1,004,000 PEVs have been sold consisting of 62 percent battery electric and 38 percent plug-in hybrids.
1M Reached Quicker Than Hybrids*
*If you count a few thousand plug-ins into last decade, the speed of growth was not as impressive, but comparing the time it took mass-market PEVs to mass-market hybrids shows PEVs achieved one million almost twice as quick.
So, this one-million milestone does includes a small handful of cars predating the launch of the mass-market Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt in December 2010, but the overwhelming share came after this time.
Counting therefore from that time of just thousands, it took four years and 10 months to reach one-million PEV sales.
By contrast the regular hybrid market dominated from 1997 onward by Toyota, with a contribution by Honda and a handful by Ford, saw its first million in more than around nine years and a few months, in 2007.
Our records do not pinpoint the date of one million, but Toyota sold 866,000 hybrids through December 2006, and Honda was at 200,000 in May 2007. It was some time in early 2007 before May.
True also, plug-ins are building on the backs of both internal combustion vehicles and hybrids. Particularly with hybrids, these cars plowed the market soil for plug-ins to take root faster.
Hybrids taught a generation of first adopters about battery electrification, created a greater confidence in the technology that in 1997 was perceptibly new, and plug-ins build on lessons learned mechanically and in other ways.
Further, plug-ins in the U.S. were rolled out first to states where hybrids were adopted heaviest, several of these including those which follow California emission rules, not least being California itself.
Today’s so-called “compliance cars” are still clustered where their manufacturers get zero emission vehicle credits and where they hope to sell more than in states where electrified vehicles have had a tougher time being accepted.
Not to be forgotten either, regulations are pushing the move forward worldwide, and incentives have been more generous than for hybrids which were subsidized less during their first decade.
The early leaders – the Volt and Leaf – are still ahead with Tesla catching up. Its Model S was launched mid 2012 and this vehicle has had phenomenal growth considering it costs 2-4 times what the Leaf or Volt do.
Despite plug-in buyers raking the Prius plug-in over the coals for having 11 miles EPA range, it is doing respectably worldwide, and it too was launched in 2012, later than the Volt which leads only by 26,000 counting Ampera sales for Opel/Vauxhall, and European Volts.
Number five is the car everyone stateside is waiting for from ailing Mitsubishi. The Outlander plug-in hybrid is like a Volt in all-wheel-drive SUV form, and we’re supposed to eventually get it here, though it’s been delayed several times.
Other vehicles in places 6-10 you may also be familiar with, though the BYD is not sold stateside, as also is the case for the Renaulty Zoe.
Top Selling Countries
The U.S. accounts for more than 35 percent of the one-million worldwide sales, though true also, a goal set in 2011 by President Obama for this country to singlehandedly have sold one million by this year will not be met, and the U.S. will finish 2015 with around 400,000.
Globally, things are picking up with new models being announced in concept and for production by most major manufacturers, and other nations are increasing their market share, though at the moment the U.S. is seeing flat growth.
In June HybridCars.com reported European PEV sales surpassed the U.S. for the first time. Several overseas markets are on the rise, while formerly strong Japan has diminished more than 30 percent this year, and is showing increased interest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Nations of note this year include China, the UK, France, Germany and Norway which all saw more than 50-percent year-over-year growth.
Of these, China and the UK have bought as many PEVs calendar year to date as they did in 2014.
China also is leading the world in changing its bus fleet and other heavy duty vehicles to plug-in power.
With tightening regulations, increasing momentum, more vehicles in the works, growing consumer awareness – and barring unforeseen issues – plug-in cars have staked a claim in the automative landscape that’s poised to increase.
Thanks to Mario R. Duran for research leading to this report.