The company predicted that EV sales would increase to 30 million by 2028 and also that EVs would make up half of all passenger cars sold globally by 2030.
Canalys' chief automotive analyst Chris Jones said: "In a tough 2020 for the automotive industry, the strong demand for EVs has been a real bright spot. This will continue around the world in 2021 and beyond, despite the economically adverse conditions."
The 2020 figures represent about 5% of all new car sales, with Canalys predicting that this would rise to 7% in 2021 and exceed five million unit sales.
Canalys said its 2030 forecast was that 48% of all new cars sold globally would be EVs.
“Rapid growth will continue as more electric vehicles launch and governments set and maintain policies to stimulate EV production and sales," said Canalys vice-president Sandy Fitzpatrick.
"Reducing ‘range anxiety’ with increases in performance and charging infrastructure will be vital to entice more buyers.
"The automotive industry is currently facing crippling semiconductor shortages, so managing future supply chains and production systems to cope with the growth will be make or break for any electric vehicle strategies.”