The world’s count of all light-duty plug-in electrified vehicles sold since the dawn of this new type of vehicle last decade crested past 1.5 million in May, and things are speeding up.

Accounting for all light-duty plug-in vehicles in all global markets back to 2004, the actual tally may be closer to 1,510,000 through May, and somewhere around another 45,000 will be sold this month, so we may be at 1.555 million this month.

What’s remarkable is the world took a dozen years to get the tally to 1.28 million, and just this year another 15 percent of the 1.5-million total – about 221,875 PEVs – were bought just from January to May.

Two years ago, in May 2014, we reported 500,000, and in Sept, 2015, we reported one million PEVs. The rate of growth is faster than that of the hybrid era, as PEVs are building on the foundation established by those first electrified cars.

It’s still a small market though, as there are an estimated 1 billion light duty vehicles on the roads of the world today. Last year total worldwide new light-duty vehicle sales tallied to, depending on estimates, 83-88 million.

PEV Market Overview

The fastest growing market, and highest selling this year is, you guessed it, China. The U.S. still holds an edge in cumulative sales, however.


This year from January through May, China spoke for 82,713 excluding imported PEVs such as those from Tesla and BMW. The U.S. has purchased 51,893, and below these, smaller players add up the numbers.

These are Norway (18,734), UK (16,056), France (15,338), Japan (10,642 (through April, with May count not in yet), Germany (8,783), Sweden (4,528), Netherlands (4,376), Canada (3,027), and Spain, Italy, and Switzerland tallied 5,928.

Noteworthy also are the two top regions in the world are Europe and the United State of California. Namely, Europe through May 2016 has 503,208 sales, surpassing those in the U.S. and China. California, which in 2014 outsold China, through March has 205,369, representing more PEVs than other country except China and U.S.

Top Countries

United States: 463,524 – since 2008
China:389,885 – since 2011
Japan: 150,142 -since 2009
Norway: 105,306 – since 2004
Netherlands: 93,310 – since 2009
France: 89,629 – since 2010
UK: 75,914 – since 2006
Germany: 57,452 – since 2010
Sweden: 21,439 – since 2011
Canada: 20,352 – since 2011

Total: 1,467,064 (97.5 percent)

Broadening Horizons

Statistically, when starting from nothing, comparatively large percentage gains are not surprising, and PEVs are just out of infancy by automotive standards.

The positive news is despite cheap gas, pushback from numerous sources, lack of consumer enthusiasm or understanding of the value in certain quarters, things are moving upward.

SEE ALSO: China Reports 500,000th Plug-in Vehicle Sold

Makes and models have increased globally of plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars. Europe has twice the selection of the U.S., and has surpassed the U.S. also, just cresting past half a million cumulative in May.

In that market, the Netherlands’ subsidies dropped off last year, so sales are down, but German subsidies are due to come online which ought to perk up that market, even if they did exclude Tesla.


At this stage, also helping things is the first battery electric vehicle priced below $40,000 with more than 200-miles range is due this year, with several more coming from different automakers.

SEE ALSO: Why Europe Has Passed the US As Number One In Plug-in Electrified Vehicles

Plug-in hybrids are also in vogue as expedient ways to improve fleet emission scores to keep regulators happy, and converted variants, as well as those on dedicated electrified platforms, are being announced regularly.

In all, a solid foothold has been established. PEV sales historically are faster in the second half of the year, so the cumulative global total will be well on its way to 2 million this year, if it does not reach it by the year’s end.

Thanks to global sales tracker Mario R. Duran for help with data.