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The 15 Largest Electric Vehicle Companies Shaping the Future of Mobility

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is well underway. As battery costs fall and ranges improve, EVs are becoming a viable option for more and more car buyers. Major automakers and tech companies alike are investing billions into an electric future. According to BloombergNEF’s Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022, EVs will represent 58% of new passenger vehicle sales globally by 2040.

As consumer interest in EVs grows exponentially each year, electric models from both legacy automakers and new-age startups are dominating sales charts around the world. In 2021, over 6.5 million EVs were sold globally – representing nearly 9% of the total vehicle market.

So which companies are leading the charge and delivering the most electric vehicles to customers right now? Here’s our overview of the 15 largest EV manufacturers by 2021 global sales figures along with a glimpse into their technology, models and future ambitions.

1. Tesla – 936,172 Units Sold in 2021

The clear industry leader when it comes to electric vehicle sales and technology is Elon Musk’s Tesla. The Silicon Valley company was founded in 2003 with the mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

Tesla sells four models currently – the Model S premium sedan, the Model X and Y SUVs, and the mass-market Model 3. Nearly 500,000 Model 3s were delivered in 2021, making it the world’s best selling EV.

Combining slick styling, long ranges and advanced tech features, Tesla’s vehicles have made EVs cool, desirable and mainstream. With vast factories under construction in Austin and Berlin, Tesla aims to grow sales over 50% annually for the foreseeable future.

2. SAIC-GM-Wuling – 400,000 Estimated Units Sold in 2021

This joint venture between Chinese state-owned SAIC Motor, General Motors and Liuzhou Wuling Motors sells affordable micro EVs and commercial vans under the Wuling and Baojun brands.

The runaway success story here is the cute, pint-sized Hongguang Mini EV, which starts under $5,000 in China after incentives and is now the best-selling EV in the country. More than 400,000 Hongguang Minis were estimated to be sold in 2021 alone, propelling the Wuling JV into second place globally.

3. Volkswagen Group – 452,900 Units Sold in 2021

German auto giant VW Group (which owns VW, Audi, Porsche, Skoda among others) plans to stop developing new internal combustion engines and go all-in on electric vehicles.

VW has committed $100 billion+ towards electrification efforts this decade. The new ID family of EVs will be key in this strategy with models like the ID.3 and ID.4 already on sale. Combined EV sales for VW group surged 75% in 2021 to over 450,000 units.

More performance oriented EVs are coming too like the Porsche Taycan sedan and Audi e-tron SUV. Expect electric models from VW group brands to populate countries globally in coming years.

4. BYD – 314,638 Units Sold in 2021

Founded in 1995 as a battery maker for mobile phones, China’s BYD (or “Build Your Dreams”) has grown into one of the country’s largest automakers with a diverse lineup of electrified vehicles – from plug-in hybrids to pure battery electric cars, trucks and buses.

BYD’s electric car models include the Han flagship luxury sedan, Song and Yuan SUVs, Qin and Tang hatchbacks. The company estimates about 70% of sales are battery-only electric cars. BYD also exports electric buses and trucks to many global markets. Warren Buffet is a major investor with a 7.7% stake in the company.

5. General Motors – Estimated 250,000+ Units Sold

Legacy American auto giant GM was relatively slow to embrace electrification earlier. But it has made rapid progress recently as part of the company’s massive $35 billion commitment towards EVs and autonomous vehicles through 2025.

The Chevrolet Bolt has been GM’s only fully electric vehicle till now with over 250,000 sold globally since its launch in 2016. But many more battery-powered models across GM’s brands are on the horizon.

Exciting upcoming EVs include – the GMC Hummer SUV / pickup, a revived Chevy Blazer EV, Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV, Celestiq flagship sedan and more.

6. Ford – 27,140 Units Sold in 2021

America’s second largest automaker Ford also has major electric ambitions alongside continued investments in hybrids and plug-in hybrids. The company is investing over $50 billion into EV and battery development through 2026.

The red-hot F-150 Lightning has gotten tons of attention as an electric version of America’s best-selling vehicle. Then there’s the Mustang Mach E crossover which marked the iconic Mustang’s first ever EV variant. Additionally, the E-Transit commercial van also launched in 2021.

Combined with its deal to jointly produce EVs in Europe with VW, Ford aims to deliver around 600,000+ electrified vehicles annually within a couple years.

7. Hyundai Motor Group – Over 160,000 Units

South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Group (which includes Hyundai, Kia and Genesis marques) is aiming to sell 1 million battery EVs annually by 2025 across global markets.

Popular models today include the Kia Niro EV, Hyundai Kona Electric and Ioniq 5 crossovers. Sister brand Genesis also launched its first vehicle built on a dedicated EV platform in 2021 – the premium GV60 crossover.

Hyundai’s E-GMP scalable platform will underpin a variety of future EVs. The stunning Ioniq 6 sedan will launch in 2023, followed by an electric version of the Genesis G80 sedan. An affordable Casper mini SUV is also coming.

8. BMW Group – 328,316 Units Sold in 2021

German luxury automaker BMW has been selling electrified cars for over a decade; it launched its first EV – the i3 hatchback – back in 2013. While the i3 will be retired soon, BMW has ramped up EV efforts across its brands.

The company now sells fully electric Mini Coopers and BMW iX3 crossovers, i4 sporty sedan and flagship iX SUVs. Even performance brands like Rolls Royce will go fully electric starting 2030. BMW Group more than doubled EV sales in 2021; it‘s aiming for half of global sales to be electric models by 2030.

9. Stellantis – Over 288,000 Units Sold

Stellantis was formed in 2021 via the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France‘s PSA Group (Peugeot, Citröen, Opel). It has now set ambitious targets to transform into a champion of electrification.

By 2030, Stellantis wants over 70% of its European sales and 40% of its US sales to be low emission vehicles (hybrids, plug ins, EVs). All 14 of Stellantis‘ vehicle brands will offer best-in-class fully electrified solutions.

Some models already on sale include the Peugeot e-208, Opel Corsa-e, Citroën ë-C4 and hybrid Jeep plug-in models. A fully electric Ram 1500 pickup and Dodge muscle car are coming too!

10. Nissan – Over 200,000 Units Estimated

Japanese automaker Nissan has been selling the Leaf electric hatchback for over a decade now, which makes it the world’s first mainstream EV in many regards. Global Leaf sales recently crossed over 600,000 units.

In 2021 Nissan unveiled its second global EV – the Ariya crossover. Going forward the company wants to launch 23 electrified models by 2030, aiming for EVs to make up 50% of global sales by FY2031. This will be enabled by $17.5 billion investment in EV tech and infrastructure.

11. Tesla Competitors in China

China is the world’s biggest auto market as well as the global leader in EV adoption right now. Dozens of ambitious Chinese electric automakers are flourishing thanks to significant government support and capital investments.

BYD leads domestic players in EV sales with over 314,000 New Energy Vehicles sold in China in 2021. It‘s followed by rising stars like Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto – all three happen to be listed on the US stock market as well.

With ample funding and plans for global distribution, these companies aim to compete directly with Tesla going forward. Models like the Nio ET7 sedan and Xpeng P5 sedan specifically target the Model 3, even beating it on certain technology offerings already!

12. Mercedes-Benz – Over 75,000 Units Sold in 2021

German luxury brand Mercedes sold around 75,000 electric cars and vans globally in 2021. While that‘s just a fraction of the company’s total vehicle sales, this number should grow rapidly in coming years.

Mercedes EQC SUV kickstarted the brand’s EV lineup a couple years back; it remains popular in European markets. Next up are the sporty EQS and EQE electric sedans along with an electric C-Class, G-Wagon and AMG models.

By 2030 Mercedes is aiming for half of its sales to come from EVs. Going all-electric where market conditions allow by the end of this decade is also planned.

13. Audi – Over 82,000 Units Sold in 2021

German luxury brand Audi, part of the VW group, already has several compelling EV options – the e-tron SUV, e-tron Sportback coupe and e-tron GT sedan. Combined global sales crossed over 80,000 units last year.

Building on this early success, Audi has charted out an ambitious roadmap for electrification. By 2026 it wants EVs to account for more than 20% of global deliveries. By 2030, Audi even wants to stop making internal combustion vehicles altogether (if market conditions allow).

Exciting upcoming EVs include the Q6 SUV coupe launching in 2023 along with an electric version of the entry-level A3 hatchback.

14. Volvo Cars – 30,100 Units Sold in 2021

Sweden’s Volvo is aiming for EVs to represent half of global sales by mid 2025; by 2030 it wants to sell only electric cars worldwide. This deeply environmentally driven vision sets Volvo apart from other large automakers even though its EV volumes are just ramping up.

Only the XC40 Recharge, a well-equipped compact SUV, is currently available. However, many more battery electric and plug in hybrid models across Volvo’s range of sedans, SUVs and wagons are launching in quick succession. These will arrive through the middle of the decade.

15. VinFast – 125 Units Delivered

Vietnam’s Vinfast is the newest and only Asian automaker on this list of EV heavyweights. Launched in 2017, it aims to compete internationally right out the gate with smart EVs boasting appealing designs and premium interiors.

VinFast’s first model, the VFe36 midsize SUV, started deliveries recently in Vietnam. Next in line are two electric crossovers – the VF e35 and e36 which will launch in U.S. and Canadian markets first.

With level 2 and level 3 assisted driving features plus a competitive 10-year battery warranty, VinFast’s fresh take on EVs makes it one to watch globally in coming years.

Analysis and Predictions

As this overview shows, the auto industry is increasingly going all-in on electric with giant players like the VW Group and Toyota pledging billions in investments alongside EV pioneers like Tesla.

Additionally, China’s growing dominance in supply chains and battery production is helping domestic automakers flourish with well-built EVs at relatively affordable prices. Eventually we will see models from NIO, Xpeng and BYD competing head-to-head with European and American automakers globally.

In 2022, experts predict over 10 million EVs being sold worldwide – a solid 40-50% jump from 2021. Europe in particular will see massive growth this year aided by environmental regulations and expanding charging infrastructure.

Tesla will certainly maintain its sales lead for the next 2-3 years at minimum. However VW Group in particular is expected to significantly ramp up volumes by 2025 across its brands. At the same time, we can expect most major automakers to rapidly grow their EV offerings.

Exciting times are definitely ahead on the road towards sustainable electric mobility! Legacy companies are transforming decades old business models while new players bring fresh ideas and alternatives to the table. As battery costs continue improving, EV adoption will only accelerate year on year.