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Record Plug-in Registrations in 2020
A Tesla Model X at the China auto expo. Sales of EVs have weathered the pandemic storm better than their ICE counterparts. © helloabc /

Record Plug-in Registrations in 2020

By Simon Johns - Dec 21, 2020

Despite the havoc wreaked on the auto industry by the pandemic, demand for electric vehicles around the world grew at an impressive rate.

Registrations of plug-in EVs climbed to their highest ever in 2020, signalling car buyers’ continued confidence in the future of e-mobility. 

Estimates place the global four-wheeler plug-in fleet at about 10.5 million units, according to EV sales data privder EV Volumes. The car that outsold all others, even in the depths of the economic freeze, was the Tesla Model 3. Sales totalled the next five models combined. Hyundai’s troubled Kona Electric, Renault’s Zoe and Nissan’s Leaf trailed in Tesla’s wake.

The first five months of the year were nightmarish for car dealerships of all stripes around the world. EVs and internal combustion engine vehicle sales were at their lowest, with countries such as the United Kingdom seeing registrations of all vehicle decline by more than 90% at the lowest point.

Apart from an uptick in March, reaching plug-in registrations of 192,380 units worldwide, it was downhill all the way from January to April, when the market bottomed out at 110,000 units, exacerbated by a significant drop in demand in China, the largest car market in the world. Still, in terms of capturing market share, plug-in sales did better than ICE vehicles.

EV OEMs’ fortunes began to improve in May as sales bumped up to 144,600 units that month. June was even better, when the trend took a sharp turn upward to 230,000 units. Although the figure was down year-on-year, it was the highest point reached so far in the year and still better than most months on record. 

In July, Western European EV sales were greater than China’s, helped by subsidies in Germany and France. By August, half a million plug-ins were registered in Europe, beating China by 14,000 units.

September’s sales rocketed to 345,000 units, up 91% year-on-year and achieving a market share of 3.4%. October carried on in the same vein, at 341,500 units, up 127% year-on-year, and propelling total registrations by that point to 2.1 million plug-ins globally. 

(November and December will be added when figures are available.)

UnitsMarket share %
Feb116,0002 est
source: Inside EVs