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After years of hype, electric vehicles are finally making headway in a market saturated with gas-burning engines. And as EV manufacturers face renewed government and public support, new models are springing up left and right to take advantage of tax credits, high demand, and positive media coverage. In 2021 alone, global EV sales topped 6.4 million, nearly doubling 2020’s performance.
But these automakers – and their deliveries – aren’t evenly spread around the world. While the largest EV producers are still U.S.-based, the Chinese market claimed the most total sales from all brands. (Around 3 million sales for 2021.) And in Europe, it’s not uncommon to see small EVs speeding along the motorways in nearly every country.
However, measuring the largest EV companies in the world isn’t as simple as it looks.
Four Types of EVs
There are, in essence, four main types of EVs:
- Battery-only EVs (BEVs) operate solely off battery power. These units have to be plugged in and recharged every 250-350 miles.
- Plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) have both a battery-operated motor and a fuel-powered internal combustion engine. Refueling occurs via regular gas stations or plugging in the vehicle.
- Hybrid EVs (HEVs) are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Unlike PHEVs, hybrid EVs are charged through regenerative braking and the combustion engine, rather than an electric plug-in.
- Fuel cell EVs (FCEVs) convert hydrogen to electricity via fuel cells. FCEVs refuel like regular gas-burning vehicles out of hydrogen fuel dispensers.
Each type of EV currently carries its own upsides and constraints.
For instance, BEVs produce no tailpipe emissions, but must be charged before use by electric sources that may produce carbon. Additionally, while more charging stations pop up every year, it’s not always easy to find a place to “refuel.”
By contrast, PHEVs and HEVs produce more emissions, as they boast both a battery pack and a traditional engine. However, it’s easier to refuel, as these vehicles travel on both internal combustion and electric power.
Lastly, FCEVs produce no harmful emissions – just water vapor and warm air. However, it’s harder to find gas stations that provide hydrogen dispensers, and hydrogen fuel can be more expensive.
- Global passenger EV sales topped 6.3-6.4 million in 2021, nearly doubling 2020’s total
- Tesla is the largest EV maker in the world, boasting over 936,000 units delivered in 2021
- Tesla also has the largest market capitalization of any car company at $948 billion (as of January 2022)
- Toyota is the largest automaker in the world that also produces EVs, with over 9.6 million units sold in 2021
- Out of all the “traditional” automakers, Volkswagen sold the most EVs and hybrid models in 2021 at over 762,000 units
- While GM makes the list thanks to its partnership with Chinese firm SAIC-GM-Wuling, its GM-branded EVs performed poorly thanks to the Chevy Bolt recall. The incident affected nearly 141,000 units and halted production for months as GM grappled with their exploding batteries.
Biggest Electric Car Companies in the World
Due to the wide variety of EVs produced, we’ve divided our list into two tables. The first boasts companies that focus on electric-only vehicles to provide a “true” answer to the question. The second considers EVs produced by traditional manufacturers, which may produce a variety of fully, hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles.
In this way, we can glimpse the full scope of EVs on the market.
7 Biggest Electric-Only Car Companies By 2021 Sales
|Ranking||Company||EVs Delivered in 2021||Market Cap*|
|#5||Li Auto||90,491||$31.1 Billion|
|#7||Lucid Motors||577||$63.7 Billion|
>> More: See the Biggest Car Manufacturers
“Traditional” Car Companies That Produced the Most EVs in 2021
|Ranking||Company||EVs Delivered in 2021*||Market Cap|
|#2||General Motors**||688,000 - 700,000||$79.3 Billion|
|#5||Hyundai / Kia||220,000 - 250,000||N/A|
|#9||Ford**||70,000 - 100,000||$86.5 Billion|
|#10||Nissan***||56,000 - 65,000||$21 Billion|
*Numbers may include a mix of fully battery-operated, plug-in, hybrid, and fuel cell lines
**Includes numbers from its Chinese-owned joint venture partners, including 400,000 sales from SAIC Motors
***Ford does not report individual sales of several plug-in models
****Numbers may not include sales in the Chinese market
Who Is the Biggest Electric Car Company?
Technically, that depends how you slice it.
Tesla is the biggest electric-only car company, delivering over 936,000 vehicles in 2021 alone. The company also boasts a market cap of $948 billion.
However, Toyota – which produces a variety of electric and hybrid models – is the largest car company in the world, producing over 9.6 million vehicles in 2021. That said, Toyota only sent out around 584,000 EVs in 2021. Plus, the Japanese car maker’s market cap is a comparatively paltry $285 billion.
What Company Produces the Most Electric Cars?
Tesla produces the most electric cars in any category, including hybrid and battery-only. In 2021, the famous brand delivered over 936,000 vehicles worldwide.
Does Tesla or Toyota Produce More Electric Vehicles?
Tesla produced nearly 66% more electric vehicles than Toyota in 2021. (Even before accounting for the fact that Toyota’s numbers also include hybrid models.)
Does Ford or Tesla Produce More Electric Vehicles?
Tesla produced well over 9-10x the number of EVs that Ford did in 2021. However, Ford plans to spend the next few years playing catch-up. Currently, the company projects that it will produce 600,000 EV units per year by 2023. If all goes to plan, half of its roughly 3.5 million vehicles produced will be “fully electric” by 2030.
Does NIO or Tesla Produce More Electric Cars?
Tesla produced over 10x the number of electric vehicles that NIO did in 2021.
Does Tesla Produce More Electrical Vehicle Cars than Honda?
Last year, Tesla produced over 936,000 fully electric vehicles. By comparison, Honda sold around 107,060 hybrid vehicles, putting it well behind the famous EV maker. Honda hopes to launch its first EV in the United States sometime in 2024.
The market capitalization of each company listed above was sourced from MarketWatch. All data is accurate as of January 2022. (Note that some numbers were converted from other currencies to USD for ease of comparison.)
To compare the true size of each car company, however, we went with production numbers. A company’s market cap can tell you how well its stock is doing, but its sales tell you how well the company is performing.
To compile this data, we scoured company reports, ]press releases, and investor’s quarterly reports. In some cases, we even looked at regulatory filings (looking at your exploding batteries, GM).
But bear in mind that not all carmakers announce their electric and hybrid vehicle sales at all – let alone down to the unit. This is especially true when brands don’t sell well or when they want to fluff their numbers by combining fully electric and hybrid numbers. As such, some of the numbers reported have more room for error than others.
Bottom Line: Biggest Electric Car Companies in the World
By all metrics, Tesla is the largest electric car company in the world, and it’s fast approaching one million units produced in a year. Not only that, but its market cap is fast marching toward the $1 trillion mark. But the company isn’t without competition – namely from big electric and hybrid manufacturers like China’s BYD and the USA’s Ford.