VW sells more electric cars than Tesla for first time, but most are plug in hybrids

VW ID.3
Volkswagen sold more electric cars across the globe than Tesla at the end of last year for the first time ever, according to an analysis by business consultancy AlixPartners. But the VW tally includes plug in hybrids.

The brands of the Volkswagen group, which include Porsche and Audi, sold 192,000 fully electric cars or plug-in hybrid vehicles in the fourth quarter, compared to Tesla’s 181,000 fully electric models.



“The e-car market is experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand worldwide, from which German car manufacturers in particular are also benefiting,” said AlixPartners managing director Nicolas Franzwa.

He added that German carmakers have often been described as sleeping giants with regard to e-cars: “Our study results impressively prove that they have now probably finally awakened and are putting their sales horsepower on the road in e-vehicles as well.”

Europe overtook China as the world’s largest e-car market with sales of 1.4 million in 2020, and the global share of electric cars in new registrations more than doubled within a year to almost 6 percent at the end of 2020, according to AlixPartners.

Both fully battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, which also have a combustion engine on board, usually count as “electric cars” in official documents and targets, but mild hybrids without a plug do not.



Tesla only sells electric cars without a conventional motor, whereas plug-in hybrids also contribute to VW‘s tally.

Many clean mobility proponents say that plug-in hybrids are not as clean as the carmakers say because many are often driven in combustion-engine mode and are not charged.

This is reflected in Alix Partners’ ranking of combined total electric range of all cars sold, where the Californian company remained the undisputed leader.

Tesla sold cars with a combined range of around 100 million kilometres in the fourth quarter, compared to VW‘s 45 million kilometres.

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