9 Best-Selling Electric Vehicles of 2014: Global Edition

While Tesla Motors is hush-hush about monthly and regional sales of its Model S sedan, most automakers are happy to report where and how many of their electric vehicles sold. For that reason, there is only one asterisk in our routine looks at EV sales.

In this edition, we take a look at the sales of plug-in hybrids all-electrics around the globe in 2014. Thanks to Jose Pontes of EV Sales for collecting the figures. (Tesla’s estimated number will have to be adjusted when reported, though its place on the list is secure.)

IAA Frankfurt Auto Show 2013 Press Days
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

9. Renault ZOE

English speakers may have to translate the Renault ZOE brochure, but the message is clear: 130 miles of range sells, European-cycle or not. The French car maker notched 11,323 sales of the ZOE in 2014, bumping the Ford C-Max Energi and other contenders off the list. This little EV got it done without a single sale in the U.S. Improved technology is expected to improve the ZOE’s range by 12.5 miles in the next edition.


8. Ford Fusion Energi

Ford’s plug-in model of the midsize Fusion has been a strong performer among retail consumers and fleet managers looking for efficient cop cars and the like. In 2014, Ford racked up 11,719 sales of the Fusion Energi around the globe, with the vast majority coming from U.S. customers. This model avoids the “funky” stigma other EVs have by just rolling in the standard (i.e., attractive) exterior.

byd qin
Source: BYD

7. BYD Qin

Chinese automaker BYD doesn’t offer the Qin in the U.S., but the sales success in its native market may force the company’s hand. Qin is a plug-in hybrid capable of 44 miles of range, which would make it the top performer stateside until the 2016 Chevy Volt debuts. On another note, the digital cheetah in the graphic is meant to communicate the plug-in can make the run to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds from a standstill. BYD sold 14,747 units of the Qin in 2014.

BMW Launches i3 Electric Car Production
Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

6. BMW i3

The BMW i3 proved it was a real contender by posting 16,052 sales globally in 2014 without being on the market for a full year. (In the U.S., sales did not begin until May.) As the cars ahead are either phasing out or slumping, the i3 should knock a few EVs off the sales leaderboard in 2015. Likely targets on the i3’s hit list include the Prius plug-in and Chevy Volt.

Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid car with mod

5. Toyota Prius Plug-in

News of dealer shortages for the Prius plug-in seem to gibe with the automaker’s lack of commitment to pure EV technology. Toyota is headed in the direction of fuel cell vehicles, with or without infrastructure to support them (currently, without it). Still, the plug-in models of the world’s top hybrid sold 19,018 units in 2014, which was good enough to crack the top five globally.

2013 Chevy Volt
Source: General Motors

4. Chevrolet Volt

Like the Prius plug-in, sales of the Chevrolet Volt have slumped dramatically fallen off a cliff since its high-water mark of 2,511 (U.S. sales) in mid-2014. GM moved just 542 units of its plug-in hybrid rated at 38 miles of range stateside in January 2015. Nonetheless, the Volt’s global sales 21,293 kept it close to the top of world sales in electric vehicles. Expect a slump while consumers wait for the 2016 edition followed by a rush on the new model. Range will be increased to 50 miles.

model S
Source: Tesla

3. Tesla Model S

Our constant subject of discussion and debate on EV sales lists returns with a strong global showing. Rather than dissect the many possibilities for Model S sales discrepancies, we’ll just quote the tally from Jose Pontes’s list Tesla’s February 2015 earnings report of 31,655 units sold globally in 2014. That keeps Tesla at No. 3 in world sales but drops it a peg behind the Chevy Volt in the U.S. count.

[Update 2/12/15: This list was updated to include Tesla’s confirmed deliveries for 2014.]

outlander plug in
Source: Mitsubishi

2. Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid EV

When people say Mitsubishi is sacrificing a huge amount of sales by not offering the Outlander plug-in stateside, here’s why: without a single U.S. consumer, the hybrid SUV posted more sales than the Nissan Leaf did in the U.S. in 2014. Outlander’s 31,689 units gave it 10% of the segment’s global market share. By the time it arrives in 2016, it will face a number of competitors in the plug-in SUV segment.

2015 nissan leaf
Source: NIssan

1. Nissan Leaf

As with the U.S. sales tally, there was no electric vehicle capable outselling the Nissan Leaf in 2014. Global figures amounted to 61,027 units sold, proving the Leaf’s combination of range, performance, and value stand as the best formula on the market. With several EVs under its collective belt, the Nissan-Renault Alliance dominated the electric vehicle market with 56% of the global share in 2014.