One can still count the number of plug-in electrified vehicles that have sold over 50,000 units on the fingers of two hands, and the latest to join the club are the Renault Zoe and BMW i3.

As of June, the Zoe has cumulatively sold 51,193 worldwide making it the seventh, and while not announced yet by BMW, it’s estimated the i3 became the eighth PEV to cross 50,000 cumulative global units sold some time earlier in July.

By definition, “PEVs” include plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles. The count for the BMW includes both the battery electric and range-extended versions. The Renault, a distant cousin to the world’s best-selling battery electric car, the Nissan Leaf, is the world’s third best-selling all-electric after the Leaf and the Model S.

Sales Accomplishments

The half-dozen other PEVs that got to 50,000 and beyond sooner did so by virtue of either their popularity or more time on the market or a combination of both.

Renault-Nissan’s Zoe was launched in France in December 2012 and the BMW i3 hit the ground running in November 2013.

Other PEVs that have more cumulative sales are in ascending order: BYD Qin, Toyota Prius PHV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, GM’s variously badged Volt Ampera family, Tesla Model S, and the Leaf.


Launched in 2013, the Chinese Qin PHEV just crossed 50,000 in April – in fewer months since launch than it took the Volt/Ampera – and as of June had 56,191 sales. The Prius plug-in, launched in 2012, and presently sidelined as the new Prius Prime plug-in awaits launch has about 75,000 sales as of June. The Outlander PHEV, although bypassing sales in North America the past three years, has an estimated 107,000 sales through June.

SEE ALSO: Exclusive: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Postponed To Next Summer

The Volt/Ampera family are at about 117,000, not significantly surpassing the Outlander despite GM’s progressive rollout that began well before in December 2010; the Model S has been a phenomenon since its June 2012 launch with around 129,000 now, and the Leaf tops all with 225,000 since December 2010.



The seventh car to pass 50k was recently the subject of confused reports that it had already crossed the milestone due to a press release by Renault stating 50,000 produced – not sold.

In any case, it really has now sold over 50,000 and has otherwise been the top-selling plug-in car in Europe during the first half of 2016. Being a Renault, it is of course not sold in the U.S. Its biggest markets are its home country France, Germany and the UK. Just France has absorbed 27,155, or 53 percent of the cumulative total.

BMW i3


BMW’s carbon fiber reinforced plastic bodied EV with optional range extender is sold globally, and the U.S. is its top market followed by Germany, Norway and the UK.

The U.S. accounts for 19,388 i3 sales, or 39 percent of the cumulative total.

Continued Competitors

Sales for the i3 were in June surpassed by the Zoe

Between the two, sales tracker Mario R. Duran expects “a head-to-head race” going forward as their sales volumes have already proven close to date.

SEE ALSO: Three More Plug-in Cars Cross 25,000 Sales Milestone

Sales for the i3 that had slowed from about 2,000 per month last year to about 1,000 per month during the first half of 2016 are likely to now pick up the pace with the introduction in July of a longer-range refreshed i3.

According to BMW, it received 5,000 orders worldwide for the updated i3. Combined with a new German subsidy program, sales should continue to improve.

We’ll keep you posted, and will also let you know when PEV number nine and number 10 (and so on) cross the 50,000 sales milestone as well.

Thanks to Mario R. Duran for help with data.