The main demand was in Mainland China and Europe, with 1.1 million being sold in the former (12% of all passenger cars sold there) and a million in the latter (15% of new cars).
However, the US continued to lag behind with only 250,000 EVs sold in the first half of the year, making up 3% of new car sales.
“Demand for EVs remains buoyant in Mainland China, with 1.1 million were sold in H1 2021 – nearly as many as were sold in the whole of 2020,” said Chris Jones, chief analyst and vice-president, Automotive and Emobility at Canalys.
Canalys said Tesla’s success in Mainland China had motivated the country's carmakers to swiftly increase their offerings. EVs from brands such as Aion, BYD, Li Xiang, NIO and Xpeng were all selling well, but the tiny Hongguang Mini EV from Wuling was outselling all the others.
Four of the top 10 best-selling EVs in H1 2021 were small city cars.
One of China’s successful consumer technology companies, Xiaomi, has now set its sights on the Chinese EV market with a proposed US$10 billion (A$13.71 billion) investment.
“It is not surprising that Xiaomi is interested in the EV market, but if it wants to compete in the premium sector, it must match or beat Tesla for technology, and match or beat it on price – not easy with your first car,” said Jones.
Said Sandy Fitzpatrick, vice-president, Automotive and Emobility at Canalys: “In some European countries, EVs represent more than a quarter of new cars sold. Norway remains the global leader for EV adoption at over 80% of new car sales.
"Companies are expanding their EV line-ups, offering consumers greater choice. The European Union has set emissions targets for carmakers. Individual European countries offer consumer incentives and have set targets to ban the sale of combustion engine vehicles.
“The challenge for the carmakers is keeping up with EV demand during the component shortage crisis.”
US President Joe Biden has proposed a US$174 billion investment with incentives and substantial charging infrastructure deployments to “win the EV market” and has committed to 40% to 50% of all new cars sales being EVs by 2030.
But Fitzpatrick said there would be no immediate impact on the US take-up. “When governments commit to supporting the EV market with incentives, targets, penalties and investment, consumer adoption will increase – but it will not happen overnight, especially in the diverse US market.
“One of the reasons for the slow uptake of EVs in the US is limited vehicle choice. But carmakers are set to launch the first EVs in the hugely popular pick-up truck segment in the US soon. If they’re successful, the perception of EVs should quickly change.”
Top five manufacturers:
- Tesla had a 15% share. With production in Mainland China in its second year, sales there remained strong. Tesla has been overtaken in Europe but continues to dominate in the US.
- Volkswagen Group was second with 13% market share, and it led in Europe. VW has been successful with its ID family of EVs. But having delivered vehicles to early customers, VW faces a backlog of orders and long customer lead times due to chip shortages. Other brands in the group have also expanded their EV ranges.
- SGMW, the combination of SAIC, GM and Wuling, was third with 11% market share. The big success in the group has been the Hongguang Mini EV in China.
- BMW Group took 6% share in H1 2021. BMW and Mini have launched several EVs recently, with more to come across its vehicle segments.
- Stellantis was fifth with 6% share. It will introduce four new EV platforms to use across vehicles from the 14 brands in the group. The Fiat 500 EV had a successful launch in early 2021, while several EVs from the former PSA Group have helped its sales volumes.