German Research Firm States 740,000 Plug-In Electric Cars Have Been Sold Worldwide – (w/graphs)


Putting an actual, accurate number on global, cumulative plug-in electric car sales is virtually impossible, but that hasn’t prevented The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) from trying.

As ZSW states:

“According to its scientists’ calculations, more than 740,000 electric cars were on the road worldwide in early 2015. Some 320,000 vehicles were registered last year, enabling car battery suppliers to generate considerable revenue of around €2 billion euros. The Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In headed up the registration statistics in 2014.”

Yearly registrations of e-cars worldwide from 2008 to 2014.

Yearly registrations of e-cars worldwide from 2008 to 2014.

ZSW adds:

“The ZSW’s latest assessment puts the number of electric cars at around three-quarters of a million. The USA stood out among the countries with the highest absolute growth rates with another 117,000 cars powered by electricity, bringing the stateside count up to around 290,000, a 69 percent bump. The USA thus retained the no. 1 spot with the world’s biggest fleet of e-vehicles. The figure for China also spiked with nearly 54,000 more electric vehicles bringing the count up to just short of 100,000, an increase of around 120 percent. China’s fleet puts it at no. 3, just behind Japan, where the 100,000 mark in electric cars has been exceeded, but at a relatively low growth rate of 45 percent.”

Lastly, here’s ZSW’s graph on individual model sales for the Top 5, which clearly shows that the Nissan LEAF is well in the lead.

Quantities by top-5 models.

Quantities by top-5 models.

Source: ZSW

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16 Comments on "German Research Firm States 740,000 Plug-In Electric Cars Have Been Sold Worldwide – (w/graphs)"

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“The USA stood out… with another 117,000 cars… bringing the stateside count up to around 290,000, a 69 percent bump.”

That last is a non-meaningful number. Per InsideEVs’ statistics, the rise in sales last year was less than 30%. So how are they measuring that? If it’s a two-year census, the “bump” is too low. Apparently whatever method they’re using for counting is giving them very skewed numbers; InsideEVs’ figures can’t be that far off, if we’re counting highway-capable, street-legal plug-in cars and light trucks.

Its the Fiat 500e data, almost no one includes their data into the spreadsheets. It the EV that America forgot (unless you own one) for the most part, lol.

As to where the 69 percent figure comes from…you got us. Total jump maybe?

As US data is plentiful, clearly it was at ~27% if you are going last year’s gain in the US. Overall though, their cumulative worldwide total is very close to our own napkin tally here at InsideEVs.

There are other inconsistencies. ZSW reported 405,000 PEVs at the beginning of 2014 as reported by InsideEVs, plus 320,000 sold in 2014 does not add up to 749k!

Oops, I mean 740k

Aargh! I’m an idiot. The article is tracking percent increase in total cumulative sales, not annual sales.

(And I wish nobody tracked cumulative sales of anything. It’s rather misleading; there’s no way to know how many units sold years ago are still in use.)

Good catch. I didn’t see that until you pointed it out. Now the percents make sense, even if what they are measuring is somewhat nonsense.

In Dec of 2011, there were twice as many Nissan Leaf sold worldwide vs. Chevy Volts? And it kept the lead through Dec of 2012, when Volt sales outnumbered Leaf sales in the US over 2:1?

Nissan sold more than 60,000 Leafs last year, worldwide. I don’t think the Volt sells well outside the USA. The European version, the Opel Ampera, has been or is being discontinued due to poor sales.

Now, kdawg, that doesn’t mean I’m slamming the Volt. If we’re going by the number of oil-powered miles driven replaced with electricity-powered ones, the Volt is the clear tech leader in the PHEV field. It leaves the Mitsubishi Outlander, with its measly ~20-25 mile EV range, in the dust.

But I’m looking at the first 2 data points on the last graph, not at last year’s sales. I’d like to see their data and how they came up w/it.

Going for our first million… then how about some steady growth to 2… before you know it EVs will be boring… and ubiquitous. I can’t wait! The perfect storm of just enough of a govt push to get them to the mass market via lower battery prices… and the upcoming 200 mile cheapies… the building used market of older generation LEAFs, VOLTs and compliance cars. The next couple of years are gonna be great. You will know we have succeeded when all garages begin to have at least one 50amp plug built in by default in all new homes. Better yet one per car space and solar roofs as well. Keep it coming!


I one-up Lensman’s +5 with my own +6.


Hello to all

All built electric cars have been sold. When OEM’s will have more capacity to build them we will see more electric cars in our streets.

All OEM’s knows that develop and build an electric car is cheaper than develop and build conventional car.

From my point of view with these numbers, electric car revolution has begun.


If anyone’s interested, I plot worldwide sales every couple of months.

I’m happy to say their numbers match closely with mine.

Tracking down international sales is a major effort, but Jose Pontes at has been doing an excellent job over the past couple of years.

All I can say is good morning china!…… Would you like some coffee?