By Assaf Oron
It is also the latest I’ve ever published the list — well, that’s with a lengthy kitchen renovation (and me insisting on cooking weekday dinners in the basement), being the main walker for a new puppy, a couple weeks’ travel, a conference talk, and toiling away on a new R package, all atop the full-time jobs of working for The Man and co-running a busy household. There’s been no shortage of excuses to break the tradition! But a labor of love is a labor of love, always worth it. (Right?) So, here it is.
And what an EV year 2022 was!
For the 2nd time in 3 years, EVs proved their resilience in the face of a huge global challenge. A shout-out to the public (and often also the leadership) of many countries, who in spring 2022 just like in spring 2020 stared into the face of a huge crisis upending their lives through no fault of their own, and were subsequently exposed to the lazy and corrupt conventional media wisdom telling us “Okay, now is no time for those silly environmental games, let’s be ‘grownups’ and play it ‘safe’ and go back to full fossil” — and once again the public and many leaders said NO, the only way forward is cleaner energy and more EVs.
Even Europe, which was hit smack in the face with a major war, managed to raise the continental EV share from 19% to 23% and continued the switch from PHEVs to BEVs. And China simply went stratospheric last year.
Globally, EVs crossed the practically meaningful thresholds of 10 million annual light-duty EV sales and 10% global market share, ending around 13–14%, versus ~8% in 2021. The slight fuzziness in numbers (see “Disclaimers” below) has to do with where one draws the line between “light-duty vehicles” and the rest, and whether the data to draw those lines equitably are available. Anyway, together with a sharp rise in hybrid (HEV) sales, crossing these thresholds might mean that Global Peak Oil Demand is already behind us — but that’s a different story to ponder elsewhere.
The Tesla Model Y was the world’s 4th best selling vehicle in 2022, with ~770,000 deliveries, including >100,000 in December. It’s far and away the highest-ever spot for an EV. Famously, it’s now in the running for 2023’s #1 spot … we’ll all stay tuned, I’m sure. Tesla also broke the 1M/year sales barrier in 2022, but was overtaken by BYD, which more than tripled its output to nearly 1.9M! (That’s roughly half PHEVs, but per Jose Pontes, these are strong PHEVs.)
Both Germany and the US joined China in the select Million-EV-Making-Countries Club (>1M/year, that is). Well, China already made >6M of them last year, a clear majority of the global output.
3 new countries joined the predominantly European club of >10% EV sales share, and none of them are in Europe! (South Korea, Israel, and New Zealand.)
4 other countries joined the (also predominantly European) 100,000 sales/year club: the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and … at long last, Japan (sigh).
Huge thanks to Jose Pontes, who (besides writing lovely EV sales reports here) leads the official EU alternative-fuel vehicle observatory, where I got most of my European data (and yes, they’re still tracking the UK, too!). Jose’s reports here are also most of my sources for China. The International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Global EV Outlook report has also been highly useful. The rest, I’ve cobbled together myself.
(Speaking of which: CleanTechnica editors, please do find someone to cover the East Asian beat. With two giant EV/battery-making countries and the world’s main solar/wind manufacturer in that region, we need a regional insider to be able to get those crucial stories right.)
Some numbers in Europe may look different from what you saw on CleanTechnica, because I’ve added light-commercial vehicle sales to the numerator and denominator to make the comparison with other regions equitable (in terms of prevalence and usage, European light vans are roughly equivalent to US pickup trucks — but unlike the latter, often they are counted separately).
My list, my labor, my scoring rules. 🙂 I’m extending an open invitation to join the project in future years and help set the rules. I did solicit others’ input over the years, including of course Jose’s. Of note, though, this year I haven’t changed or recalibrated any scoring algorithm — so scores are directly comparable with last year.
The score is multi-faceted rather than representing solely consumer sales. This is a global challenge, to which different countries can contribute in different ways, and the big picture must be in view. Advantage goes to countries that contribute in multiple ways. There’s also lots of bonus for rate of improvement over 2021. This makes the list more dynamic and interesting, IMHO.
One rule is that when a global automaker sets up an assembly plant in another country (e.g., the Shanghai Gigafactory), the manufacturing credit usually gets split 50:50 between the “home” and “assembly” country. In cases with more local control (e.g., Volvo Cars or Wuling), the assembly country gets more. This is just to avoid confusion regarding my EV-making numbers by country.
Okay, enough futzing around … let’s list those countries!
10th place, 52 points (tie): Denmark & Finland (tied for 8th in 2021)
Spoiler: like in 2021, every single Scandinavian country made the top 10 (well … this time it’s really the top 11). Denmark and Finland round out “the bottom” of the region, which translates to nearly 34% EV market share last year for each. Denmark is the one that caught up with Finland, which means it gets more points for year-over-year improvement. Conversely, according to the IEA, Finland’s new buses in 2022 were two-thirds BEV, versus “only” one-third in Denmark. Both are well above the continental average, which is nudging 10%. So, the tie continues.
8th place, 54 points (tie): Iceland (6th in 2021) & Belgium (first appearance!)
Unlike Denmark and Finland, Iceland has been a top 10 fixture for a while, with its EV market share second in the world behind Norway’s. Last year, it only barely nudged ahead from 65% to 66%, and other action was scant, hence the 2.5-spot slide.
Belgium has been lurking just below the top 10 for a while, with an EV market dominated by luxury PHEVs. The mix is becoming more balanced, with 2022 sales landing just above 100,000 and rising from 19% to 24% market share. What distinguishes Belgium from a handful of otherwise-similar European countries is that it also makes quite a few EVs, and that number is rising: Belgian assembly plants are responsible for the Audi e-tron, and for a proportion of Volvo’s BEV/PHEV output. Lastly, domestic bus maker Van Hool is into hydrogen buses, but has started dabbling more and more in BEVs and PHEVs.
7th place, 55 points: The United States (7th in 2021)
The fact that the US, despite a year of strong advances, has remained in this place demonstrates how dynamic the EV world is. Domestic EV-share-wise, the US is still several years behind, and not making up lots of ground yet, with 2022 improving from 4.1% to 6.6%. This increase looks more impressive volume-wise, almost(?) reaching 1M sales and regaining the world’s #2 volume spot from Germany.
Without Tesla, the US would have been nowhere near the top 20, let alone 10. However, other US automakers besides Tesla showed more signs of life last year vs. previous years. The Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 improves future prospects for sales, and even more so, for EV production and battery production in the US. In particular, it might help dilute China’s current monopoly over anode and cathode materials.
That said, the IRA’s incomprehensible and frankly ludicrous consumer-rebate rules (e.g., the Nissan Leaf, which has been assembled in the US since 2013, is suddenly ineligible somehow), and the closely-related saga of continued abuse of EVs by the Republican Party as culture-war targets, suggest that the road ahead is still bumpy.
That the person atop Mighty Tesla, of all people, decided in 2022 to fully ally himself emotionally and politically with that very same virulently anti-EV political party, and to put down $44B of his (and the stupid banks’) money in order to further promote the Republicans’ mendacious culture wars, is not only mind-blowingly bizarre and extremely self-contradictory, but again points towards how mixed and precarious the US EV scene continues to be.
6th place, 57 points: The Netherlands (tied for 8th in 2021)
The Dutch hop-skipped past the US, EV share rising from 25% to a Scandinavian-style 34%. This once-volatile EV market seems to have hit its stride, and has also successfully switched from PHEV-dominated to >70% BEV. Domestic bus maker VDL nearly doubled its BEV deliveries to 344 and is once again a viable competitor for the continent’s e-bus leadership.
5th place, 63 points: South Korea (3rd in 2021)
Note the jump in points! We’re entering the Big Leagues, and here only consistent stellar performance will get you a medal nowadays. South Korea has lots going for it:
EV production rose from ~300,000 to ~500,000, with most of these going to export — highly important for supplying countries that don’t have an auto industry.
Korea is probably the global leader in light-commercial BEVs by market share. The 36,000 Porter 2 and Bongo BEV utility trucks were 27% of all light-commercial vehicles sold in Korea last year, the result of a generous and wise social-equity government subsidy — as people using such trucks are often family farms and small businesses (constituencies which are also often unaware, or suspicious, of EVs).
Those LCVS helped Korea nudge into two-digit territory, overall EV share rising from 7% to nearly 11%, almost all BEVs.
Korea continues to be the world’s #2 EV battery country, both by domestic production and by corporate share.
That said, it’s becoming a more and more distant #2, with Korean battery companies falling from 30.2% to 23.7% of global production. This has taken Korea’s battery score down a notch, meaning it has only gained 1 point over last year — enough to be overtaken by two other countries!
4th place, 65 points: Germany (5th in 2021)
Germany gained a full 7 points over 2021 …
Contrary to my superficial impression over the past year, turns out that in 2022, BMW and to some extent also Mercedes-Benz have actually started getting serious about BEVs, and not just minimal PHEVs. With Volkswagen Group at the helm, overcoming its supply-chain challenges midyear, German EV production both surged from 800,000 to 1.3 million — skipping past the US to become 2nd in the world — and became majority BEV for the first(?) time.
With the scepter of consumer-incentive cuts on January 1, 2023, a December surge brought Germany’s domestic EV sales share from 24% in 2021 to 29% in 2022, 2nd-best in non-Scandinavia Europe (after the Netherlands) and a better increase than many of its continental rivals.
Mercedes and MAN both improved their e-bus making numbers, with Mercedes #3 in Europe deliveries last year and #1 among “homegrown” European automakers.
… but this rise was still not enough for the 2022 podium.
Who’s on the podium then? Look for Part 2 soon!
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