World’s Top 10 Selling Plug-In Electric Cars


Nissan LEAF & e-NV200

Nissan LEAF & e-NV200

EV Sales Blog released an updated all-time estimation of the Top 10 selling plug-in electric cars, which we used to construct a new sales graph.

Among the Top 10 models, the Nissan LEAF is so far out of range of the others, that it’s no contest for the #1 spot.

The LEAF gets an additional boost due to the fact that the Chevrolet Volt is retreating from Europe and Australia and is even less threatened with Toyota just announcing the end of production for the Plug-In Prius (new generation coming 2016).

On the other hand, the Tesla Model S has a chance to not only take third place, but maybe even attack second position while the Volt is on generational production/sales hiatus. Or maybe rather the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will do it?

Europe has only two representatives – Renault ZOE and BMW i3. China has two too.

Well, today you need more than 20,000 sales to be included in the Top 10. Tomorrow 20,000 will not be enough. In total, the 10 best selling models exceed 575,000 sales.

(1) – Also includes Holden Volt, Opel and Vauxhall Ampera sales;
(2) – Also includes Citröen C-Zero and Peugeot iOn sales;

The second graph is on brands – some 693,000 plug-in were sold by 10 leaders.

Nissan again is on top. Mitsubishi thanks to Outlander PHEV, overtook Chevrolet. Tesla is again approaching Toyota.

Then we see Renault and Ford, both with few models on the market. We predict that Volkswagen will break into Top 10 this year.

World's Top 10 Plug-In Car Manufacturers - April 2015

World’s Top 10 Plug-In Car Manufacturers – April 2015

Source: EV Sales Blog

Category: Sales

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30 responses to "World’s Top 10 Selling Plug-In Electric Cars"
  1. Brian says:

    Interesting. When you look at the numbers this way, Toyota almost looks serious about plug-ins. That will change dramatically by the end of the year. I also suspect that the tally in 2020 will show Tesla and GM fighting hard for second place, with Nissan barely holding onto their lead (as opposed to their solid lead today). Certainly by then, none of the compliance companies (looking at you, Toyota) will be in the top 10!

    1. M Hovis says:

      From an EV World perspective, Toyota’s decisions seems mind boggling. How easy they could have ruled. People often comment how large Toyota is and that they surely know more about the big picture than the small EV community. I once asked a GM employee in the 80’s what was happening to the behemoth of a company as Honda and Toyota was slowly taking their business. His response was this. “I suppose there are a lot of factors, but most of all, GM is building the car they want you to have, while Toyota/Honda is building the car you want to have.” Toyota at least understands selling what people want by selling the “idea” of fuel from water. Except it is not fuel, it is a carrier, and the EROI, or amount of energy required to reform it that way is terrible.

      I can only imagine what the above chart would have looked like with a Prius of even 20 AER. Here is to the race, of doubling and tripling the top 10 plug-in chart with reality opposed to a notion.

      1. PVH says:

        Toyota seems to be willing to keep up with electric cars in market which could become significant in term of sales. They currently think this country is China. For a car company that sales 10M cars per year it is not obvious that a market that is still under 1% in volume needs a respons. Some (GM & VW) thinks the respons is needed, other (Toyota) think that respons can wait a bit. Lets not exagerate what it takes an establihed car maker to make an electric car if they think a profit can be made. For the company that issued the prius, about next to not much as far as technology is concerned.

        1. Robb Stark says:

          Toyota is selling BEVs in China for the same reason it sells alternate fuel vehicles every where in the world; to comply with the Law.

          In China, it will need to sell many more BEVs to comply with the law in order to be able to sell ICEv.

          Established companies that wait for new disruptive companies to get to 2% market share before responding are generally too late.

    2. PVH says:

      In the USA, why not. Now worldwide it might be way more open than the short list you give, top three could include BYD for example. It is hard to tell as some car manufacturers issue a new PHEV model about every 3 months right now so which one of them is going to sell well ? Difficult to say.

  2. Breezy says:

    The US is the largest market (for now), but I prefer to look at worldwide numbers since it’s all the same atmosphere. It’s also evident how diffuse plug-ins are throughout the auto industry, while here we tend to focus on the major US players (Tesla, GM, Nissan) only.

    1. PVH says:

      In 2014, largest car market was China, with 18.4M cars sold. USA came second with 16.4M, Europe came third with 12.5M.

      1. Breezy says:

        Right, sorry I meant largest market for plug-ins. But China will be soon.

      2. Robb Stark says:

        In Dollars, the USA is still the largest market by far.

        At the end of the day, that is what counts. Money and profits not units sold.

        1. Breezy says:

          As someone who wants to electrification advance and fossil fuel emissions displaced, what matters to me is units sold.

          1. Thomas J. Thias says:

            Breezy, my friend,
            I see that Mark took your number for total GM Voltec Platforms sold globally at 88,105.

            I am going to argue that GM has built over 100,000 Chevy Volt, Opel/Vauxhall Ampera EREV’s, Cadillac ELR ERELC and Holden Volt LREV’s combined and cumulative.

            Here is where I get this information.

            “In fact, apart from vacation days and an occasional sick day, the mother-daughter duo has installed almost every battery pack since the Volt was in pre-production in 2009. The ELR launched earlier this year. All told – including Ampera – that’s more than 80,000 electric vehicles.”

            Note: Published on GM News US On 04.18.2014, over 12 months ago.

            Link Goes To GM US News-


            So, well, close to 100,000 GM Voltec’s Built, right?


            Thomas J. Thias




            1. Breezy says:

              Hey Thomas,

              It looks like InsideEVs used the numbers from EV Sales Blog which probably got some of the numbers from InsideEVs in the first place. What goes around comes around.

              Is total Voltec production 100,000? Close, but I don’t think quite that high.

              88,105 is all Volt/Ampera (including Chevrolet, Vauxhall, Opel and Holden) sales up to end of March. ELR sales are 1690, so that’s 89,795. There are about 6,000 Volts and 500 ELRs in stock right now. April sales are probably no more than 1,000 or so.

              So I get total production of around 97,000.

              (A minor note: the 80,000 number from your link includes pre-production vehicles. How many, I’m not sure but it’s probably in the hundreds.)

          2. Lensman says:

            If what concerns you is fossil fuel emissions displaced, then your measuring stick should be number of miles driven on electricity. Not number of units sold. A smaller number of cars with a longer EV range will displace more fossil fuel emissions than a larger number of short-range EVs.

            This is particularly true of PHEVs. Obviously PHEVs with longer electric range will displace more gas-powered miles than PHEVs with shorter ranges.

            With BEVs, the comparison isn’t so clear. Will someone with a shorter-range EV recharge en route to take a longer trip? Or will they just use a gas guzzler (or alternate form of transportation) instead? That’s a statistic that’s going to be very hard to track.

            1. Breezy says:

              You’re right of course, but as you say EV miles driven requires further estimation. I would argue that it correlates more closely to units sold than it does to “money and profits.”

  3. Interesting to see where Mitsubishi would be if they had been prepared to sell the Outlander in the U.S. when it debuted. They would have been able to soak up a lot of PHEV SUV demand.

    By the time Outlander PHEV launches in the U.S., they’ll be going head to head with a half dozen better appointed rivals with larger dealer networks and its sales volume will be a footnote.

    There’s a lesson about battery supply in there somewhere.

  4. Breezy says:

    Yes, definitely a lesson about battery supply. Have they learned yet to stop being “surprised” when well-designed plug-ins sell well?

    Better appointed rivals, but the Outlander PHEV should have a significant price advantage when it launches in NA, so don’t count them out yet.

  5. realdb2 says:

    It’s interesting to read so many stories about what an utter failure the Volt has been and then see that it’s #2 in the world for plug in vehicles.

    Just more proof that perspective and perception are more important than reality.

    1. Compared to compliance cars, it’s doing great. Compared to other similar size Chevys, it’s small potatoes.

      If Chevy had wanted to make it mainstream seller, it could probably sell 10x. But they won’t make as good of a margin so they don’t promote it as well as ICEs.

      Once more people figure out how low the Total Cost of Ownership is, it will be a grass roots success. The network effect takes a while to get going, but once it does, it’s unstoppable.

      The new Volt will probably reach mainstream numbers. Chevy made some really important improvements. People are catching on.

      1. As to the Chevy Volt – “The new Volt will probably reach mainstream numbers. Chevy made some really important improvements. People are catching on.” – Time is also getting on it’s side, as more people have heard about it; however – it is still such an unusual car that many still can’t wrap their heads around it: [A Conversation about the Volt] …

        “It’s an electric car?” (But it uses Gas!) “So – it’s a Gas Car, then? (Well, once the Battery Runs out – it works like a Hybrid!) “Oh – So it’s like a Prius, then? (Well, almost, except it runs totally on the Electric Motor so it is better to drive!)
        “So – is it an Electric Car – or a Hybrid?”
        (Well, actually – it’s both, or just one – if you don’t plug it in and charge up the battery, then it’s a Hybrid, but if you do plug it in – you can get {X} Miles all electric!) “So – if it runs just fine on Gas, why plug it in?” (Well – if you plug it in, you save {more} money, and if you plug it in enough – you {Almost} Never Need to use gas, unless you take long trips and are in a rush to get to your destination – then you will burn fuel for sure!)

        Outside of that type of conversation, between a Volt owner, and a non-Volt owner (not informed about the Volt’s interesting drive ‘Modes’), there are some other technical elements Chevy has yet to take advantage of – so the the AER Loving Volt Owners, can stay away from Gas, even Easier: Upgrade to at least 6.6 kW on-board AC Charging (instead of just going from 3.3 kW to 3.6 kW!); Making some additional leg and head room for real adults in the back seats (people over 5’4″, at least!); and one interesting idea would have been – to give the car Access to DC Quick Charging, as well – even if Optional for $$, and Even if the much ‘touted’ American DC Quick Charging ‘Standard’ – the “CCS” Format, instead of the much wider installed CHAdeMO Choice! Pretty Sure the new 18.4 kWh Pack, could handle at least 2C – 3C (= 36.8 kW – 55.2 kW) charging!

        Can you imagine – taking just 5 Minutes, at a DC QC – with your Volt, and grabbing a quick 12 miles, or maybe 12 minutes to take it another 30 miles from that quick charge?! (Not Tesla Rates, for sure – but still decent, and much quicker than pushing at just 3.6 kW!)

        1. Jeff Songster says:

          Completely agree about desired improvements to the VOLT. They need a faster charger onboard. Optional CCS or CHAdeMO DCQC would help it stay among the market leaders. The scaled up midsize model idea (more room/esp headroom) is also the right idea.
          My family drives 2 LEAFs these days and we chose them because they were roomier, fully electric and well equipped in their top model SL. We considered VOLT but my daughter sat in the back seats of that and LEAF and never wanted to ride in the back of the VOLT again. We only use CHAdeMO DCQC a couple times a week but it makes all the difference in the utility of our small battery, all electric cars.

        2. realdb2 says:

          I agree 100% percent about people not wrapping their heads around the Volt concept.

          The Volt is an unbelievable car, ask anyone who owns one. The problem is most people who don’t own one, don’t understand the concept.

          I’m not as optimistic as you regarding the Volt Gen 2 going mainstream. I don’t think GM is willing to cut into their margins in order to make a big move with the price. So that combined with the “complex” concept will keep it niche IMO.

          I hope I’m wrong.

        3. All great points. I’ve had those conversations myself and have been surprised at how otherwise smart people don’t always grasp how it works right away – even after a reasonable explanation as you’ve related Robert.

          But the Volt has such a compelling value proposition that I do think word will get around. Like all electrics, if you save a couple hundred dollars a month in gas, it’s essentially a free car. Except unlike BEVs, there’s no compromise on range. Need to go to grandma’s on short notice? No problem.

          Chevy just needs Jay Leno to do a series of his famous “man on the street” interviews.

          Or give away $10k every month to the person who burns the least gas with the most accumulated mileage.

          Word would travel quick.

  6. Mitsubishi iMiev family sales are combined over 50000.

    1. Jeff Songster says:

      Great info… I like iMiev, I just wish they would increase the density of the battery to get closer to the 100+hypermiler range.

  7. Jeff Songster says:

    Just wondering… does the LEAF number include derivatives like the eNV200? or simply LEAF.

    1. Kimmi says:

      It’s just Leaf sales, the e-NV200 are counted in the Nissan global sales (3.2k for the van, 175k for the brand).

  8. Just_Chris says:

    When I look at this graph the thing that I can’t help thinking is that there is really very little competition in the market. If Toyota where going head to head with GM and VW in a major market I am sure that this would be a very different graph same goes for Nissan, nothing “steals” Leaf sales at the moment. I think we will bump along with lowish numbers until we see some competition driving more appealing offerings.

    I think this will happen (is happening) in the PHEV world first. I’d love to see the Qin in the US going head to head with the Volt but I don’t think it will happen. It’ll be interesting to see what Toyota pulls out of the bag if VW, BMW and Ford start to get serious about there plugin hybrids and/or if Volt 2 is cheap enough to really go head to head with the regular Prius. If the Prius and Lexus hybrids start to feel the pain in enough markets I am sure we will see Toyota pull something out of the bag but right now every Pip they sell is a regular Prius that they don’t.

    I can’t wait to see what the next generation plugins lead to. I wonder what Outlander PHEV drivers are trading in?

  9. Lensman says:

    This is a comparison of cumulative sales, so the comparisons don’t mean much. For example, the Volt and the Leaf debuted about a year and a half before the Tesla Model S, so have a year-and-a-half more sales.

  10. Matt_ecocars says:

    Thanks for the article; it is interesting to see how the Leaf remains the bestselling EV. However the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has significant sales at 59552 considering it was only released a few months ago. Also we at have seen significant interest for this plug-in SUV 4by4. In Europe it was the top selling EV in March, and out sold the Nissan Leaf.