Briefing

Annual update on the global transition to electric vehicles: 2021

This briefing assesses the annual progress on the global transition to electric vehicles (EVs) at the global, regional, and national levels. Global EV sales reached a record-high of 6.9 million in 2021, a 107% increase from 2020. It is the first time since 2012 that the global EV sales doubled in one year. Of the vehicles sold, 98% were light-duty vehicles (LDVs) and 2% were heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). By the end of 2021, cumulative global sales of EVs reached 18.6 million, a 58% increase from end of 2020. Of these vehicles, 95% were LDVs while HDVs accounted for 5%. In 2021, the global average EV share of new vehicle sales achieved an all-time high of 8.3%, up from 4.2% in 2020.

Approximately 3.5 million EVs were sold in China in 2021, 150% higher than the 2020 level. This represented 51% of the world’s total EV sales in 2021, compared to 42% in 2020. Europe as a single market closely followed China as the world’s second largest EV market. In 2021, 2.3 million EVs were sold in Europe, a 66% increase from 2020. This accounted for 34% of the global total, compared to 42% in 2020. Seven of the top ten national markets in terms of annual EV sales in 2021 were in Europe, including Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The United States and South Korea ranked 3rd and 9th, respectively. The United States reached a record-high EV sales of 667,731, a 103% increase from 2020. South Korea also recorded all-time high EV sales of 115,137, 128% higher than 2020.

Though many governments around the world have officially announced vehicle electrification targets, the progress made by 2021 towards these targets was uneven. However, many governments took measures in 2021 to tighten vehicle regulations, adjusts incentive programs, and improve charging infrastructure strategies.

chart showing theAnnual electric vehicle sales globally by market from 2011 to 2021

Figure 3. Annual electric vehicle sales globally by market from 2011 to 2021.