We present the 3 manufacturers that sell the most electric cars in the world in 2022

In 2022, three automakers managed to make it to the podium for electric car sales. These are Tesla, BYD and Volkswagen. But watch out because there is a fight on the catwalk and the fourth actor is also starting to work well.

BYD Han and Atto 3 in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on electric car news on Frandroid, you should already know the top three automakers selling electric cars right now. We made shares in the third quarter of 2022 as well as in the second quarter of that year. Even if the lines had already started to move, the classification was the same then.

It’s the same story for the fourth quarter of 2022: Tesla remains the big leader in the electric car. But watch out, because as we’ll see, Chinese giant BYD is coming full speed ahead and could overtake Elon Musk’s firm in the long run. Volkswagen (the group, not just the manufacturer) is third, but well behind the first two. Another Chinese group is starting to overtake the German group: SAIC (MG). 2023 could be decisive.

Tesla, the leader of the electric car

In detail and as seen in the chart below, Tesla sold 405,000 electric vehicles (Model 3, Model Y, Model S and Model X) between October and December 2022. During the whole year, more than 1.3 million cars were sold to brand customers. That’s huge, and it’s a record for Tesla, but also for the electric car industry.

Tesla Gigafactory Berlin
Tesla Gigafactory Berlin

We see sales increasing from the beginning of the year to the end of 2022. The second quarter was marked by COVID, which significantly slowed down the Gigafactory in Shanghai. With fourth-quarter sales figures, Tesla could sell more than 1.5 million electric cars in 2023. If all Tesla factories are operating at full speed, about 2 million electric cars could be sold this year. Even 2.5 million with the adjustments that Tesla wants to make at the Gigafactory in Berlin.

Sale you are here BYD volkswagen
First quarter of 2022 305 407 143 223 99 100
Second quarter of 2022 254,695 180 296 118,000
The third quarter of 2022 343,000 258,618 149,300
Fourth quarter of 2022 405,000 329,000 205,800
Total 2022 1,308,102 911 137 572 100

Is this enough to extend the range with BYD? Not necessarily.

BYD, the world’s number 2 electric car

If you don’t know BYD, remember this name. This is a Chinese manufacturer that has been around since 1995, most notably the 100% electric London red bus. BYD is coming to Europe with three electric cars: BYD Han, Tang and Atto 3. It is possible that other electric cars will be launched in Europe in the coming months, such as BYD Seal and BYD Dolphin (Atto 2).

Still, BYD is strong, very strong, in an electric car. In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Chinese manufacturer sold more than 329,000 electric vehicles, for a total of more than 900,000 for the entire year. So yes, much less than Tesla. But be careful, two details should be taken into account.

BYD stand at the 2022 Paris Motor Show
BYD stand at the 2022 Paris Motor Show // Source: Marie Lizak for Frandroid

The first is that BYD will sell a total of 143,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2022. So the increase in ratio is huge, more than doubling in quarterly sales in less than a year!

The second detail is that BYD also produces and sells… plug-in hybrid cars! And not just a little. About 828,000 PHEVs are expected to be sold by the Chinese manufacturer in 2022. If hybrids and electrics are taken into account, BYD therefore has a production capacity of about 1.8 million units per year. What is Tesla seriously concerned about?

And more specifically, an analysis firm GlobalData 1.6 million sales for Tesla in 2023, 1.58 million for BYD, it estimates in a recent market analysis. But be careful, we imagine the trend cabinet didn’t take into account the recent price drop in Tesla, which will probably turn things around, flood the market.

Volkswagen is lagging behind

In third place is the Volkswagen Group of Germany, which sells the Audi, Cupra, Porsche, Seat and Skoda brands in addition to the Volkswagen brand. In the last quarter of 2022, 205.8 thousand electric cars were sold. During the year, there were 572,100 units. This is roughly half of BYD, but as with the Chinese giant, the German group has doubled its sales between the beginning of 2022 and the end of the year.

Unfortunately for Volkswagen, these efforts should not be enough for 2023. In fourth place we find another Chinese group: SAIC, the parent company of MG. Exact sales figures for this group are hard to come by, but preliminary estimates suggest that just under 500,000 electric cars were sold last year. And this good figure was made possible thanks to an electric car, especially the popular Wuling Hong Guang MINIEV, the best-selling electric car in China in 2022. Thanks to a joint venture with General Motors (SAIC-), more than 400,000 copies were sold. GM-Wuling).

2023, a key year for the Chinese?

For 2023, SAIC should be stronger as the group has sold a lot of electric cars in recent months. We can mention the MG4 (with a sales target of 100,000 vehicles in 2023), as well as the Cadillac Lyriq and Buick Electra E5 with GM. This also applies to the Rising Auto brand with the R7 SUV, which “charges” in less than 5 minutes, but also especially the IM with the LS7.

Projections for 2023 show SAIC selling more than one million electric vehicles, compared to just over 840,000 for the Volkswagen Group. The numbers will be drawn with giant tweezers, but they reflect a trend nonetheless.

Wuling Hongguang Mini EV Convertible
Wuling Hongguang Mini EV Convertible

Chinese manufacturers have begun to invade Europe, while European manufacturers are finding it difficult to sell their cars in China. So much so that some even leave the area, like the Jeep that is an integral part of Stellantis.

Therefore, it will be very interesting to watch 2023 on the side of the electric car. Will Tesla be able to maintain its leadership position despite BYD’s growing strength? When will Volkswagen be taken over by the SAIC group? See you next March for the first look at sales figures for 2023 in the first quarter.

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