At what point does a niche vehicle stop being, well, niche? Though electric car sales represent just 0.5% of new car sales world, the numbers are starting to add up to a meaningful impact. Sales of the Nissan LEAF have exceeded 170,000 vehicles worldwide since 2010, more than double its next two competitors combined, both of which are plug-in hybrids, reports EV Sales.
Those two vehicles would be the Chevy Volt with over 88,000 worldwide sales (though mostly in the US) and the Toyota Prius Plug-In with over 71,000 sales. No real surprises in the Top 3, though the further down the list we go, the more interesting things become. For example, the Tesla Model S has an estimated 66,000 worldwide sales so far, closing in quickly on the far-cheaper Prius Plug-In, and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is catching up fast as well with just under 60,000 sales… and it isn’t even for sale in the US yet. (And note that Prius Plug-In sales and Chevy Volt sales have been lagging lately.)
From there, things fall fast, with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV gathering over 31,000 sales, while #7 Renault Zoe, which has been on sale as long as the Nissan LEAF but is just in Europe, has managed to move just over 22,000 units. This has allowed the fresher and newer BMW i3 to gain a lot of ground on the French EV since going on sale a year ago, though a pair of Chinese plug-in cars, the BYD Qin and Chery QQ3 EV, are moving their way up the ranks too.
Yet none can come even close to the King of EV sales, the Nissan LEAF, the only plug-in car to break 100,000 sales so far. Last year alone, Nissan sold over 30,000 LEAFs in the US, and once the next-gen version goes on sale, those numbers could shoot up to 50,000 vehicles a year or more. At that point, the Nissan LEAF and electric vehicles in general can be hardly be considered a “niche,” if you ask me.