Best Selling Electric Cars Globally

Lexus LF 30 electrified electric car concept

Electric Cars: The Basics

For those of you new to zero-emission electric driving, we recommend a read of the following articles:

For those keen on an overview of the Indian electric vehicle (EV) market and the different types of electric vehicles (EVs), simply scroll down to the end of the article!

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In A Playing Field That Is Fast Becoming Filled With Attractive And Incredible Electric Vehicles, It Is Impossible To Pick The Best Few!  

If there is one striking feature for 2019, it is, the unprecedented press coverage globally on the electric vehicle sector, to include in India.  An article on electric vehicles is now a daily occurrence from mainstream newspapers to specialist automotive websites.  

We in India have certainly taken an interest in electric cars and zero-emission driving.  Companies like Mahindra Electric have caught our attention with EVs like the Mahindra eVerito, Mahindra e2o and more! 

But is is the global manufactures like California based Tesla Inc. that have inspired our imaginations beyond the realms of India.  All-electric cars like the ‘gull-wing doors’ Tesla Model X , the recently unveiled pure electric Tesla Cybertruck and the most successful EV model in 2019, the Tesla Model 3 have electrified our senses.

Despite all the publicity garnered by Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla, there are other automotive companies that have also redefined the electric vehicle sector landscape to date.  Indeed, one of the top selling electric cars in 2019 is the Tata Motors owned Jaguar EV, the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUV.  The I-PACE EV won the prestigious 2109 World Car of the Year accolade.  

Despite the increased profile of EVs in India, markets like Norway, United States of America, United Kingdom, China and Germany are far ahead in regards to the adoption of electric cars and availability of electric vehicles (models and volumes).  In this article we list some of the top selling electric cars globally, many of which are also destined for the Indian market in due course.  

The Morrison Electric: 1890

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of electric cars, we recommend a quick read on the early  history of EVs (19th and 20th century).  Modern electric cars i.e. the cars we see today, are relatively recent in relation to the invention of the early electric cars and the development of the wider automotive industry.  Modern electric cars commenced their resurgence at the start of the 21st century with the global introduction of the Toyota Prius hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) in 2000.  Since then, automotive manufacturers like Nissan Motor Co., Ltd, Group Renault and the silicon valley start-up Tesla, have defined the EV automotive landscape. 

The current ‘resurgence’ of zero-emission road transportation is not a fad, but rather, a long term fundamental paradigm shift in the global transportation industry as we rapidly migrate from polluting diesel and petrol vehicles (ICE) to lower emission and zero-emission electric vehicles.   Over the past few years, one brand has single handedly inspired the ‘mass awakening’ of the global electric car sector.  Yes, you guessed correctly, it is Tesla Inc. 

As we close 2019 it is clear that many of the largest global automotive manufacturers, like the Germany based Volkswagen Group, have committed significantly to achieve their electrification dreams (EUR 60 billion).  The Volvo Group, the South Korea headquartered Kia Motors Corporation and Hyundai are also examples of other mainstream automotive manufacturers jostling for leadership in the EV sector. 

Despite the extraordinary success and recognition of Tesla electric cars (Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X and Tesla Model 3), another less flamboyant EV has had a significant positive impact in the global EV sector.  Indeed, it is today the most sold EV globally with more than 4 lakh sold to date.  It is none other that the all-electric Nissan Leaf developed by the Japanese automotive company Nissan.  Also popular have been EV models like the all-electric Renault Zoe, by the French automotive manufacturer, Renault, VW e-Golf, Chevrolet Bolt EV and the all-electric BMWi3.  

But it is not only the pure electric cars, also referred to as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) that have been popular, but some plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) have also defined the EV competitive landscape to include the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Toyota Prius PHEV

A Selection Of Top Selling Electric Vehicles Globally 

The All-Electric Nissan Leaf 

It is difficult not to recognise the pure electric Nissan Leaf with its distinctive design.  The compact five-door hatchback was launched in 2010.  Since then the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) has won a number of awards to include the 2010 Green Car Vision Award, the 2011 European Car of the Year, the 2011 World Car of the Year and the 2011-2012 Car of the Year Japan.  By early 2019, the Nissan Leaf had achieved the distinguished recognition of achieving global sales over 4 lakh vehicles.  The Nissan Leaf was also the top selling EV model in Europe in 2018. 

The Nissan Leaf can also be credited for introducing EVs to the mainstream ‘mass-market’, keen on reliability, performance and affordable pricing.  History books will in due course also recognise Nissan for its contribution to the resurgence of the global EV industry.  Today the Nissan Leaf is available in over 60 countries across four continents. 

Nissan Leaf Hatch Electric
The All-Electric Nissan Leaf

The Leaf has evolved since 2010 with an improved design and styling for the 2018 model.  The latest 2019 Nissan Leaf EV model has come a long way since the early production model of 2010/2011.  The first Leaf had an EPA rated zero-emission range of 119 kms and had a 24 kWh lithium-ion EV battery.  The 2019 Nissan Leaf has a WLTP range of 364 kms and a battery size of 62 kWh.  

The latest generation of the all-electric Japanese model comes in two variants, the Nissan Leaf ( range up to 270 kms) and the Nissan Leaf e+ (up to 385 kms).  Both models are packed with advanced technology to include the Nissan PROPILOT, Nissan PROPILOT Park and e-Pedal driving.  

The electric vehicle is expected to be launched in India by end 2020 with an estimated price of Rs 30 lakhs.      

Tesla Electric Cars

Tesla was founded in 2003, and compared to the leading automotive companies, a recent entrant.  Yet, it has done more for the electric vehicle industry than other billion dollar auto companies.  One of the reasons for this, is the now well known co-founder Elon Musk, who has transformed the company into a global brand synonymous with EVs.  We at e-zoomed applaud and salute his contribution to the EV sector.  

Though Tesla is a US automotive company, it has already made significant in-roads to key markets in Europe and Asia.  Tesla EVs continue to be one of the best selling EVs globally. 

The All-Electric Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S is an all-electric five door sedan introduced in 2012.  Since its introduction, the Model S has achieved a number of distinguished milestones to include being the best-selling plug-in car globally in 2015 and 2016.  It is the second most sold electric car after the Nissan Leaf.  The first 1 lakh Tesla Model S units were sold in 2015 and by end 2018 it surpassed 2.5 lakh units. 

The Tesla Model S comes in two variants: the Performance and the Long Range.  The Long Range has a WLTP range of over 600 kms, while the Performance variant  has a WLTP range of 590 kms.  

In terms of acceleration and performance, the Performance variant can achieve 0 – 100 km/h in 2.4 seconds, while the Long Range variant can achieve it in 3.7 seconds.  The Performance variant has a top speed of 260 km/h. The Long Range variant has a top speed of 250 km/h.  Both variants are dual motor and all-wheel drive and can seat 5 adults. 

The Model S also has the option of Autonomous Driving and Autopilot.   The Tesla Model S is expected to be available in India by end 2020 with an estimated price of Rs 1.5 Cr.  

The All-Electric Tesla Model X 

The Tesla Model X is a mid-sized all-electric SUV. It is one of the most recognizable electric vehicles globally with its ‘flacon-wing’ doors.  The Model X has much in common with the Tesla Model S, as the Model X was developed from the Model S platform.  The all-electric Model X prototype was introduced in 2012 with first deliveries commencing in September 2015.

The Tesla Model X comes in two variants to include the Performance and the Long Range Variant.  The Long Range has a WLTP range of just over 500 kms, while the Performance variant  has a WLTP range of 485 kms.  

Tesla Model X electric car
The All-electric Tesla Model X

In terms of acceleration and performance, the Performance variant can achieve 0 – 100 km/h in 2.7 seconds, while the Long Range variant can achieve it in 4.4 seconds.  Both variants have a top speed of 250 km/h.  Also, both variants are dual motor and all-wheel drive and can seat 7 adults. 

No doubt the falcon-wing doors have given the Tesla Model X an easily recognizable appeal.  However the sales of the all-electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) have not been as impressive as the Tesla Model S.  As of end 2018, total units sold globally were just over 65,000. 

Expect to see the Tesla Model X in India end 2021 with an estimated price of Rs 2 crore. 

All-Electric Tesla Model 3 

The anticipation for the Tesla Model 3 was well worth the wait.  As we close 2019, Tesla model 3 has certain been a significant success.  In its home market, the United States, the affordable Tesla battery-electric vehicle (BEV) is 9th on the list of the best selling car to date this year, to include even petrol and diesel vehicles.  In fact, the all-electric Tesla Model 3 is the only EV to feature in the top 20 best-selling cars in the US.  An incredible feat for a vehicle that was launched by a automotive company that was a start up just over a decade ago.  

The Model 3 is a pure electric four-door sedan that commenced production in 2017. By October 2018, the electric vehicle has achieved 100,000 sales reaching total sales of 371,000 units by September 2019.  Lets put this in perspective.  It took Nissan Leaf many more years to achieve 400,000  units sold globally.

Tesla Model 3 electric car
The All-Electric Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 comes in three variants:

  • Performance: WLTP range — 530 km
  • Long Range AWD: WLTP range — 560 km
  • Standard Plus: WLTP range – 408 km

The fastest acceleration for  0 – 100 km/h is the performance variant: 3.2 seconds, followed by 4.4 seconds for the Long Range AWD and 5.3 seconds for the Standard Plus.  Expect to see the Tesla Model 3 launched in India between end 2020 and early 2021 with an estimated price of Rs 70 lakhs. 

All-Electric Jaguar I-PACE 

This is certainly a ‘feather in the cap’ for us in India.  After all, Jaguar Land Rover is owned by our very own TATA Motors.  The Jaguar I-PACE pure electric SUV or battery-electric crossover has not disappointed the heritage premium marque.  The all-electric Jaguar I-PACE was unveiled in early 2018, with deliveries commencing later in the year. Since then, the Jaguar EV has becoming one of the best selling electric vehicles, competing head-on with successful all-electric SUVs like the Tesla Model X and the all-electric Audi e-tron

Jaguar IPACE SUV Electric
The All-Electric Jaguar I-PACE

In 2019, the I-PACE cemented its success by winning the following prestigious awards:

  • 2019 World Car Of The Year 
  • 2019 World Car Design Of The Year 
  • 2019 World Green Car 

The eco-friendly Jaguar I-PACE comes in three variants to include:

  • Jaguar I-PACE S: WLTP range —  470 km 
  • Jaguar I-PACE SE: WLTP range – 470 km 
  • Jaguar I-PACE HSE: WLTP range – 470 km
  • Jaguar I-PACE S: 0-100 km/h —  4.8 seconds 
  • Jaguar I-PACE SE: 0-100 km/h – 4.8 seconds 
  • Jaguar I-PACE HSE: 0-100 km/h – 4.8 seconds 

Expect to see the all-electric Jaguar I-PACE on sale in India in mid-2020 prices at approximately Rs 58 lakhs. 

Pure electric cars available in India, include the, all-electric MG ZS SUV, the pure electric Tata Nexon SUV, the all-electric Tata Tigor sedan, the all-electric Mahindra e Verito and the all-electric Hyundai Kona SUV.


Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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