E-Mobility Sales Review Q1-2021

Spurred by subsidies and investment, the electric vehicle market continues to snowball


Electric vehicle market tops dramatic 2020

While the global auto market as a whole experienced a significant decline in sales of around 16% in 2020, the electric vehicle (EV) market decisively bucked the overall trend to record outstanding annual growth.

Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rose by 40% worldwide over the year, and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) by 74%. While China remains the largest BEV market in absolute terms, the main impetus for the growth of the overall EV market comes from Europe. BEV sales in Europe more than doubled in 2020, while PHEV sales grew more than threefold.

The accelerating dynamism of the European EV market was particularly apparent in the fourth quarter of the year as three major premium manufacturers introduced new PHEV models into the market. Registrations of BEVs and PHEVs accelerated in December in particular, with sales figures outstripping previous monthly records.

Not all the news was positive, however. Sales of both BEVs and PHEVs in the United States fell in 2020 due to a lack of new product launches, but still outpaced a contracting total market. Moreover, the global production and supply challenges which beset the industry in 2020 look likely to continue into this year due to pandemic-related issues like virus mutations, lockdowns and downturns in various parts of the world.

Top findings

  • The accelerating dynamism of the European EV market was particularly apparent in the fourth quarter of the year with an +333% increase in BEV sales in Western Europe’s top 5 markets
  • Sales figures for plug-in hybrids increase by 248% year-on-year in 2020, followed by pure battery drives with 179%
  • Europe continues to show the strongest market share for electric vehicles and, at 113%, the highest growth rate compared to 2019 (China: +20%; USA: +1.1%)

E-Mobility Sales Data

France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK

Sales were very strong in the EU top 5 markets in Q4, with striking percentage increases compared with the equivalent period in 2019. Quarterly sales of BEVs and PHEVs were both more than 300% higher than in Q4 2019, and December monthly sales were more than 400% higher in both categories than during the same month in the previous year.

Indeed, close to 100,000 BEVs were registered in the EU top 5 markets in December alone, a year-on-year increase of 462%. PHEV sales, particularly in Germany, were bolstered late in the year by new models from Mercedes, Audi and BMW.
In 2020 as a whole, 466,000 BEVs and 393,000 PHEVs were registered, an annual increase of 179% and 248% respectively. The overall respective 2020 market shares were 5.5% for BEVs and 4.7% for PHEVs.

Further European markets (+5)

The EV market share in some of the smaller European EV markets is considerably higher than in the top 5 markets. For example, the 2020 BEV market share in Norway was 54%, and the PHEV market share in Sweden was 22%.



BEV sales grew by 135% in Q4 in comparison to the same quarter last year, while PHEV sales were up by 92%. This strong finish to the year secured respectable growth for the year as a whole. Year-on-year growth was 28% for BEVs and 11% for PHEVs. However, although absolute BEV sales numbers are higher than in Europe, the year-on-year growth rate is significantly lower.


Despite a recovery in the last quarter, overall EV sales fell markedly in Japan in 2020. BEV sales fell by 31% over the course of the year, and PHEVs by 16%. However, the 2020 market share for EVs as a whole was 38%, almost exclusively due to the continued popularity of hybrids.

South Korea

Hybrids also dominate the EV market in South Korea, with a 2020 market share of 9%. Sales of BEVs and PHEVs grew significantly in South Korea in the last quarter (46% and 96% respectively) compared to Q4 2019, but did so from a low base.


Whereas other regions enjoyed large increases in registrations of BEVs and PHEVs in 2020 despite widespread lockdowns and supply challenges, this trend was notably absent in the United States. Sales of BEVs fell by 2% in 2020, while PHEV sales went down by 19%. Only the hybrid market made the overall annual EV sales figures look more respectable. The relevant market shares for the year remain low – 1.6% for BEVs and 0.5% for PHEVs.

The end of the year, at least, showed signs of an upturn in the market. Although BEV sales fell in October and November in comparison with the equivalent months in 2019, December month-on-year registrations were up by 49%. The December rebound for PHEVs, however, was considerably less marked.

About the "E-Mobility Sales Review" by PwC and Strategy&

PwC Autofacts® and Strategy& have analyzed e-mobility sales worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Contact us

Felix Kuhnert

Felix Kuhnert

Partner, PwC Germany

Dr. Jörn Neuhausen

Dr. Jörn Neuhausen

Director, Strategy& Germany