Electric Vehicle Sales Review Full Year 2021

Global sales of battery electric vehicles more than doubled in 2021 in comparison with the previous year

Global BEV sales double in 2021

In comparison with the previous year, sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by 121% in all markets analyzed in 2021. China led the way with sales of almost three million BEVs in the calendar year, up by 172% from 2020, as buyers in that country sought to take advantage of incentives before their planned reduction.

Sales in major European markets also showed substantial growth during the year. New BEV registrations went up by 83% in Germany in 2021, and 76% in the UK. Meanwhile, the United States BEV market, hitherto a sleeping giant, is showing promising signs of growth. Buoyed by certain popular models, BEV sales increased by 62% from the previous year.

Although strong growth was recorded in the final quarter of 2021, it was not quite as stellar as the rest of the year had been. For example, BEV sales in the EU top 5 markets were up 34% in Q4 2021 in comparison with the equivalent quarter in the previous year, but the year-on-year increase for the whole of 2021 was 72%. This comparative slowdown can be attributed to the global shortage of semiconductor chips, and to renewed concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic which deterred customers from showrooms.

Financially stretched after major expenditure during the pandemic, government measures to reduce incentives are inevitable. The impact of this change on the pace of electric vehicle sales growth in 2022 and beyond remains to be seen.

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Top findings

  • Growth rates in China continued to outperform other regions of the world with sales of almost three million BEVs in 2021
  • Rapid decline of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle market share in the European top 5 markets from 92% in 2019 to 60% in 2021
  • BEV market in the US has grown by 62% compared to 2020
  • In 2021, just one in three BEVs sold in China, Europe and the US came from a European OEM

Electric Vehicle Sales Data

France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and UK

In the fourth quarter of 2021, BEV sales in the top 5 European markets grew by 25% from the corresponding period in 2020. Growth was highest in the UK (58%) and France (37%). Over 2021 as a whole, the highest increases were recorded in Italy (107% – albeit from a comparatively low base), Germany (83%) and the UK (76%). As these figures demonstrate, growth dropped off to a certain degree in the final quarter, although it remained impressive.

An analysis of the trajectory of respective market shares reveals the rapid decline of the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle in these countries. In 2019, ICE market share for the European top 5 was 92%. By 2021, it had fallen to 60%. In the UK, it has decreased from 91% to 55% in the same period, and in Germany from 92% to 58%. It seems inevitable that ICE vehicles will constitute a minority of the market in both these countries during 2022.

Further European markets (+5)

Among the other European markets, Sweden had the highest growth in BEV sales in Q4 2021 vs. Q4 2020, increasing by 74%. Austria boasted the highest growth rate for the whole of 2021, at 109%. In Norway, the ICE market share was just 8% in 2021, by a substantial margin, the lowest in the world. In Sweden and the Netherlands, the ICE market share was overtaken for the first time in 2021, standing at 49% and 47% respectively.

Focus market: Turkey

Turkey, as a potential future BEV producer, has voiced major ambitions to become a leading BEV market. While the overall sales of BEVs (2,846 units) and PHEVs (871 units) in 2021 are rather sluggish compared with the biggest European markets, total EVs were able to increase their market share to 7.1% in 2021. EV sales also grew 135% YoY vs. 2020.

China

Growth rates in China continued to outperform other regions of the world in the fourth quarter of 2021. BEV sales more than doubled compared to the equivalent quarter in 2020, as consumers looked to secure their purchase before the reduction in incentives was introduced. Annual BEV sales were up by 172%. However, with ICE market share still at 86% in 2021, the growth potential of the EV market in China remains huge.

Japan

Japan’s EV market still relies almost exclusively on the sale of hybrids. ICE market share for 2021 was 55%, while almost all of the remainder was taken up by hybrids. The BEV market share was less than 1%.

South Korea

With annual sales up by 144% in 2021, the BEV market in South Korea is starting to heat up. Although market share is only at 6%, that figure has trebled in the span of two years.

USA

In Q4 2021, BEV sales increased by 50% in the United States compared to Q4 2020, while PHEV sales grew by 126%. Meanwhile, year-on-year growth for BEVs stood at 62% for 2021; for PHEVs it was 140%, and for hybrids it was 84%.

Inroads into the ICE market share have to date been nowhere near as marked as in other regions of the world. At the end of 2021, ICE market share still stood at 91%.

However, clear signs of sales growth, the proposed increase in tax credits, heavy investment in charging infrastructure, increased BEV pickup announcements, the highly publicized pledges by certain carmakers to focus on electrification, and the examples set by the states of California and New York in committing to sales of only zero-emission cars and light trucks by 2035, all encourage talk of a rapid increase in EV market shares over the coming years.

About the „Electric Vehicle Sales Review“ by PwC and Strategy&

PwC Autofacts® and Strategy& have analyzed electric vehicle sales worldwide for the full year of 2021.

Contact us

Felix Kuhnert

Felix Kuhnert

Partner, PwC Germany

Dr. Jörn Neuhausen

Dr. Jörn Neuhausen

Director, Strategy& Germany

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