The Countries With the Most Electric Vehicle Owners

While China has the most EVs in total, some smaller countries have more per person.
Christopher McFadden

Have you ever thought of which country has the most electric vehicles? The answer might just surprise you. 

Read on to find out more. 

Which country has the most EVs?

The EV market has literally exploded globally over the last few decades. But which country, if any, has most of all? 

electrical vehicles sales worldwide
Source: Mic/Flickr

To answer this effectively, we will need to define what we mean by "most" with respect to EV numbers. 

Do we mean "most" by total number? Or the "most" by the number of EVs per population? How about hybrids?

Let's break down some of the latest figures into these categories.

As it turns out, there is one clear outright winner when it comes to the sheer volume of EVs in one particular country -- China. Most recent estimates show that China has somewhere in the region 1.8 million EVs in total.

Which country has the most EVs per population?

However, when it comes to EVs per capita, Norway stands out as the country with the most EVs per person. Norway has around 55 electric cars per 1000 inhabitants, according to figures from 2018.

EVs worldwide Norway
Norway has the most EVs per 1000 people. Source: Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr

China, on the other hand, has a much larger population, and so its EV per capita is only somewhere in the region of 1.26 per 1000 inhabitants. 

The high per capita rate of EV ownership in Norway is due to Norway's push to move away from traditional combustion engines by 2025. In order to promote this policy, Norway has made battery-powered cars exempt from the country's nominally very high rates of import tax and VAT.

Not only that, but Norway has also made EVs exempt from the need to pay tolls and parking fees. Many of the country's ferry boats also offer special low rates for EV car owners. Norwegian EV car owners can also use certain bus lanes. 

ev cars worldwide
Source: Jag_cz/iStock

In Europe, the closest country to come anywhere near Norway is France with around 8.4 per 1000 inhabitants, and the United Kingdom with 3.2

Which country has the most hybrids?

If we are talking about the country with the most hybrid vehicles, then there is another clear victor -- Japan. These vehicles combine traditional combustion engines with an electrical motor. 

Japan has long been one of the shining lights of hybrid car construction and has shown the most development in the sector. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that Japan is now home to eh largest fleet of hybrid vehicles in the world. As of 2018. there were somewhere in the region of 7.5 million in total or about 20% of all cars in Japan. 

However, wherever you have EVs you also need to have a well-developed charging network to make them viable. As it turns out, there is a clear winner on this front too -- South Korea (by coverage per miles/km of road). 

While China likely has the most by number, somewhere in the region of 111,000 fast-charging stations it is a very large country. South Korea has a more modest 3,910 that works out at around once every 17.5 miles (28.3 kilometers) (according to Groupe Renault)!

EVs charging
Source: Jeff Cooper/Wikimedia Commons

Looking to the future, most analysts believe that France is the country with the biggest potential for EV market development. In an OC&C study in 2019, 77% of French people were considering switching to EV or hybrid for their next vehicle.

If realized, this would be the largest increase out of the five countries who took part in the study. Other included China, The US, the UK, and Germany. 

What are EV sales worldwide?

According to sources like IEA, EV sales worldwide topped out at 2.1 million globally in 2019. This broke the record previously set in 2018.

This boosts the global pool of total EVs to around 7.2 million

These sales figures represent somewhere in the region of 2.6% of total global sales, and about 1% of the total global car stock (as of 2019). 

global EV sales per year
Source: IEA

At present, somewhere in the region of 1 in 10 cars sold in Europe this year will be EV or plug-in hybrid. This is a marked increase on previous years.

But, things are set to look greener in the next few years, especially in Europe. Some estimates show that the EV market is set to triple in order to meet many European nations' drive to reduce their carbon footprints. Most European nations are planning to phase out or ban sales of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the next 10-15 years.

Some estimates show that EV market share should reach 15% by 2021. These estimates come from the green policy group Transport & Environment

“Electric car sales are booming thanks to EU emissions standards,” said Clean Vehicle Director Julia Poliscanova in an interview with ARS Technica.

“Next year, one in every seven cars sold in Europe will be a plug-in.”

EVs Nissan Leaf
Source: Simopala/Flickr

These rules put requirements on carmakers to reduce the average emissions from their new vehicles to 95g of CO2 per km. If they don't, they could face fines that would likely run into billions of euros.

The threat of fines appears to have forced carmakers to respond, and in the first six months of 2020, average emissions fell from 122g to 111g; the largest six-month drop in more than a decade.

Which country has the most Teslas?

While many carmakers have now entered the EV market, there is one standout manufacturer that constantly dominates the EV news cycle -- Tesla. But, which country has the most Teslas in the world?

According to sources like Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, the most popular EV in North America, Australia, most of Europe, South Africa, India, and China is the Tesla Model 3 (at least by Google search data). 

The next most popular EVs are the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model S,  and the BMW i8 in the rest of the world.

most popular EV worldwide
Source: Nationwide Vehicle Contracts

These results were compiled by Nationwide Vehicle Contracts by analyzing Google search volume data for 126 different car brands and models. 74 of these were EV and 72 hybrid or plug-in hybrid. 

Their data analysis revealed that Tesla Model 3 is the most requested EV model with 1,852,356 searches per month worldwide.

This is more than 3 times higher than its next closest competitor the Nissan Leaf with 565,689 searches per month.

But this only reveals the relative popularity of EVs for people surfing the net. The only real thing that matters is physically owning one. 

According to sources like Norwegian American, Norway is one of Europe's biggest markets for Teslas. In fact, it is one of Tesla's biggest global markets per capita. The Netherlands, however, is seeing the biggest growth in Tesla sales in Europe.

But it is not just Teslas that are popular in Norway, in 2019 the country had the largest European stock of light-duty plug-in vehicles and the world's third-largest after China and the U.S -- for reasons already mentioned above. 

EV Tesla
Source: Marc Van Der Chijs/Flickr

According to Tesla, the Model X is the country’s fourth best-selling car. Norway is the country where Tesla has become the budget option too.

To put things into perspective, the retail price for a Tesla S in Norway is around NOK 634,400, and for the comparable Audi A7, around NOK 697,300.

Globally, Tesla has about 14% of the EV market, as of 2019.

The EV market has shown significant growth over the last decade or so, and, according to some estimates, is only going to get better in the near future. 

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