10% of Global Car Sales Were EVs

New car sales declined for many automakers, but EV sales more than doubled, thanks to strong demand from China and Europe.

January 17, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Electric vehicles accounted for 10% of global car sales, totaling 7.8 million units, led by strong EV adoption in China and Europe, reports the Wall Street Journal.

EV sales in the U.S. still only make up a small fraction of vehicle sales at 5.8%, but in China and Europe, EVswere 19% and 11% of total car sales, respectively. When adding in plug-in hybrid vehicles, the share of electric vehicles sold in Europe rose to 20.3% of the total last year.

“Last year, every fourth vehicle we sold in China was a plug-in, and this year it will be every third auto,” Ralf Brandstätter, head of Volkswagen AG’s China business, told reporters. “We haven’t reached the tipping point yet, but we’re expecting to get there between 2025 and 2030.”

BMW saw a 5% decline in overall new car sales in 2022, but its EV sales more than doubled.

“We are confident that we can repeat this success next year, because we have a continued high order backlog for fully electric models,” BMW Sales Chief Pieter Nota, said this month, commenting on the growth in sales of electric models.

VW also saw new car sales dip by 7% last year, but EVs increased 26%. Most of its EV sales were in Europe, but EV sales growth was strongest in China. In the U.S., Ford and Mercedes Benz also posted new car sales declines but more than doubled EV sales.

Even though the U.S. saw a smaller share of EV sales than Europe and China, sales were up by two-thirds over 2021, with 807,180 fully electric vehicles sold in the U.S. last year. Tesla is the dominant EV player in the U.S., selling 65% of all EVs, but the company’s share of the market is declining. Tesla sold 72% of EVs in 2021. Analysts say a decreased wait time for Teslas is softening demand. The company offered a rare discount if buyers would take delivery of their vehicles before the end of 2022.

Ford is now the No. 2 seller of EVs, making up 7.6% of the EV market, followed by Hyundai and Kia combined, making up 7.1% of the EV market. Both companies introduced fully electric SUVs this year that were popular. General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan all saw their share of the U.S. EV market slip in 2022. (GM cut back on its EV target for 2023.)

Rising costs for EV battery materials, including lithium, have caused EV makers to raise vehicle prices. The average price paid for an EV in the U.S. hit about $66,000 last summer, up from about $51,000 a year earlier. A recent Deloitte survey found that cost is the leading deterrent to EV adoption.

Globally, new car sales fell around 1%. They grew by 4% in China, which helped to offset an 8% sales decline in the U.S. and a 7% drop in Europe.

The Journal reports that as the economy declines, supply chains sort out and subsidies ease, auto manufacturers may not be able to maintain high costs for new vehicles, leading to less consumer purchases and potentially hurting profits.

“Demand is likely to weaken in the coming year,” Peter Fuss, an auto analyst with Ernst & Young, told the Journal. “The weak economy will cause retail and business consumers to be more reluctant. And it is possible that supply will outpace demand and we will begin to see discounts again.”

Convenience retailers can assess the cost of profitability of offering EV charging at their stores by using the NACS EV Charging Calculator. The calculator focuses on what retailer utility costs associated with EV recharging are and what the corresponding revenue must be to recover those costs after allowing for potential ancillary in-store visits and purchase profitability.

The Convenience Matters podcast, “Where Do EVs Make the Most Sense?” examines the findings from a Fuels Institute study looking at life-cycle emissions for EVs and fuel-powered vehicles. NACS also has a topics page on electric vehicles.