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California passes 1M mark for cumulative sales of electric vehicles: BEVs, PHEVs and FCEVs

California surpassed 1 million electric vehicles (1,054,095 units)—battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel-cell electric—sold cumulatively through the 4th quarter of 2021, according to the California Energy Commission (CEC), making it the first US state to achieve this milestone. California also set a new yearly record with 250,279 electric vehicles sold, representing 12.4% of total California auto sales in 2021.

The CEC updates its Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) sales figures quarterly by analyzing DMV data. Specifically, cumulative sales through the end of 2021 were:

  • 663,014 BEV (62.9%)
  • 379,125 PHEV (36% )
  • 11,956 FCEV (1.1%)

For sales in 2021 only, the shares were:

  • 183,933 BEV (73.5%)
  • 63,141 PHEV (25.2%)
  • 3,205 FCEV (1.3%)


From CEC New ZEV Sales dashboard

California’s EV adoption rate exceeds the global trends according to the International Energy Agency showing that the global EV market share jumped from 4.11% in 2020 to 8.57% in 2021. However, the same report finds that California is still falling behind Europe where EV sales exceeded 20%.

In comparison, EVs delivered as a percent of total US sales in 2021 totaled just 4%. In the US overall, more than 652,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids were sold in 2021.

Californians need to purchase 4 million more EVs in the next 9 years to reach the state’s goal of 5 million EVs sold by 2030, according to Veloz research. Veloz is a nonprofit organization focused on accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set a goal of 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. The total number of light-duty vehicles sold cumulatively in California exceeded 1 million at the end of 2021. The California Air Resources Board is expected to adopt the next round of statewide EV sales targets before the end of the year as part of the state’s Advanced Clean Cars program.

In California, Tesla topped the BEV sales leaderboard for 2021, delivering 137,135 vehicles (75% of all battery-electric vehicles sold in California in 2021) (67,262 Model 3 (49% of Tesla total); 61,022 Model Y (44.5%); 6,532 Model S (4.8%); 2,319 Model X (1.7%)).

Veloz analysts conclude that Tesla has benefited from California’s ZEV regulations, first mover advantage and the decision to couple EVs with an in-house charging network. Impressively, Tesla increased sales despite supply chain interruptions and chip shortages with vertical integration, delaying new models and reducing chips for some steering tech in vehicles produced and delivered in China.

For 2021 in California, Tesla was followed by:

  • Chevrolet: 12,313 Bolt EVs, 974 Bolt EUVs (7.2% share)
  • Ford: 5,807 Mustang Mach-E, 18 Focus EV (3.2%)
  • Volkswagen: 5,293 ID.4, 276 e-Golf (3.0%)
  • Nissan: 4,192 LEAF (2.3%)
  • Hyundai: 3,122 Kona EV, 686 Ioniq Electric (2.1%)
  • Audi: 2,404 e-tron, 557 e-tron Sportback, 150 e-tron GT, 66 RS e-tron GT (1.7%)
  • Kia: 3,003 Niro EV, 2 Soul EV (1.6%)
  • Porsche: 2,350 Taycan (1.3% )
  • Volvo: 1,325 XC40, 1 C40 (0.7%)
  • BMW: 1,286 i3 (0.7%)
  • Polestar: 1,159 Polestar 2 (0.6%)

Jaguar, MINI, Rivian, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Lucid, Honda, FIAT and Smart each posted less than 1,000 units for the year, with Smart taking the bottom spot with 5 units total.


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