What are the top selling global plug-in vehicles and what do forecasters think will be next?

From a U.S. market perspective, the Nissan Leaf has been taking a dive in sales in the past couple of years. Viewing it by global sales volume provides another perspective.

In 2016, the all-electric Leaf came in fifth place in the U.S. with 14,006 units sold. Leading the market were the Tesla Model S at 29,156, the Chevy Volt at 24,739, the Tesla Model X at 18,028, and the Ford Fusion Energi at 15,938 units sold. Globally, the Leaf followed close behind the Model S in 2016 with 50,931 units sold for the Model S versus 49,220 for the Leaf; and since its launch, the Leaf is the clear market leader for cumulative global sales, far ahead of the Model S and nearly double sales of the Chevy Volt, according to HybridCars.

Automakers take the U.S. market very seriously for launching and marketing a new technology like plug-in electrified vehicles. But it’s not all about the U.S., and some automakers have given other markets more weight in the initial phase of the car. The Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid has been a leader in Europe and was the fifth top selling PEV globally last year – which has yet to be launched in the U.S. BYD has three of the top selling PEVs in the world and has just started seeking a second EPA certification to start selling it e6 electric vehicle in the U.S.

Here’s how the list played out last year:













Nissan’s partner Renault topped the European market last year, just passing by the Outlander PHEV with 21,337 units sold last year compared to 21,328 units, respectively. The European Alternative Fuels Observatory reported that the Nissan Leaf finished in third place in that market last year, with 18,557 vehicles sold. The VW Passat GTE plug-in hybrid had 13,248 units sold and the Tesla Model S came in fifth place in the European market with 12,353 vehicles sold last year. The Nissan Leaf switched places with the Model S, which dropped 26 percent from 2015 sales in Europe.

The all-electric BMW i3 did better in Europe than the U.S. last year, with 9,726 units sold in Europe and 7,625 vehicles sold in the U.S. (The i3 numbers do include a few sold with the range extender plug-in hybrid option).

The European Alternative Fuels Observatory said it will be watching to see how the Opel Ampera-e MPV and Smart ED rollouts do in the BEV segment; and the BMW 530e and second generation Porsche Panamera do in the plug-in hybrid segment.

As for other vehicles to watch during 2017, there are six new vehicles that could make a difference. Long-range EVs are expected to help sales pickups. According to Matt Bohlsen, an investment advisory in Seeking Alpha, here are six EVs to watch this year:

Company Model Availability Battery (kWh)        Range EPA

miles (kms)



1. BYD Co e6,Qin EV300,e5 300 Now (China) 48 188+

(300+ km)

2.BAIC BAIC EU 260 EV Now (China) 41.4 162 (260 km) 37,500
3.Renault Zoe LR December 2016

(Europe, UK)

41 186

(300 km)

17,500 (13,995 GBP) + battery lease costs (from USD 47pm)
4.GM Bolt/Opel


December 2016


60 238 (381km) 37,500
5.Nissan Leaf September 2017


40 150

(240 km)

6.Tesla Model 3 Mid-late 2017


est. 60 215 (344 kms) 35,000



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