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Best-selling electric car 2021: The 8 top EVs of the year

A ton of new EVs dropped last year. Here are the 8 that buyers wanted the most.

2021 was the year of the electric car. A whole host of EVs dropped this year: the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai IONIQ5, Rivian R1T, and Polestar 2 all hit the road.

While some carmakers are seeing supply constraints and slow ramps of new production (something Elon Musk described as “production hell”), others are selling thousands of EVs to excited customers.

Here are the top 8 best-selling EVs in the US across 2021.

8. Porsche Taycan

The Sport Turismo is one of a growing range of Porsche electric sports sedans.Porsche

Porsche sold 9,419 Taycan models across an ever-growing lineup of electronic luxury sports sedans. With 800-volt tech for faster charging (and faster driving!), the Taycan has impressed reviewers and buyers with both excellent performance and comfort.

7. Audi E-tron

The Audi e-tron has seen modest success as a luxury electric SUV, but it remains a bit of a niche product.Audi

Audi moved a few more e-tron EVs than Porsche sold Taycans, clipping its corporate sibling by 1,500 units. With 10,921 sold, the well-received Audi e-tron is the best-selling luxury EV on the list (though there are high-end versions of Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y, the Audi e-Tron starts at more than $65,000, well above the starting price of those other vehicles). The total here includes the standard e-tron, as well as the Sportback and GT models.

6. Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf is the most affordable new EV in the country.Nissan

Nissan moved 14,239 units of its venerable Leaf electric car. The granddaddy of EVs, the Leaf was first released in 2010 and saw a major update in 2017. Leaf sales grew by 48.9 percent from 2020 to 2021.

The Leaf starts at just $27,400 or $19,900 after a federal tax credit, making it one of the most affordable new EVs on the market. The 40 kWh Nissan Leaf has an EPA-estimated range of 149 miles, while the 62 kWh version has a range as high as 226 miles.

5. Volkswagen ID.4

The ID.4 is a handsome electric crossover.Volkswagen

Volkswagen sold 16,742 ID.4 electric crossovers, making it the second best-selling of the newly launched EVs. I reviewed the ID.4 last year and thought it was excellent aside from some odd design choices.

Eventually, the ID.4 will be built stateside at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee facility, but American ID.4 cars are made in Germany for now.

4. Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV

The Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV (pictured) are popular, but sales of new vehicles have been suspended indefinitely.Chevrolet

Chevrolet managed to sell 24,828 Bolt EV and Bolt EUV crossovers, a particularly impressive number considering that sales of both vehicles have been paused since September as the company works to replace the battery pack in every Bolt EV ever sold thanks to an enormous recall after a number of battery fires in the LG Chem-made packs.

I really liked the Chevrolet Bolt EUV when I drove it earlier this year, thanks to the inclusion of GM’s excellent Super Cruise hands-off driver-assist system.

3. Ford Mustang Mach-E

The Mach-E GT is the hot shoe performance variant of the Mustang Mach-E, bringing upgrades to the tires, brakes, and electric motors as well as software improvements to help make lap times more consistent.Jordan Golson / Inverse

The Ford Mustang Mach-E has been a huge hit since it went on sale early last year. It launched Ford into the top (non-Tesla) spot on the EV charts and showcased the company as a serious player in the space, especially with the Ford F-150 Lightning coming later this year.

Ford says it sold 27,140 Mustang Mach-E SUVs in 2021, showing that even as Mustang purists debate whether it’s a real Mustang or not (it is), EV buyers are only too happy to make a statement with their wallets.

2. Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3, the most affordable vehicle currently available from the company, is the second-best-selling EV in the country.Tesla

Tesla doesn’t break out its sales numbers by region or by automobile, so we have to use less precise methods to estimate total Tesla sales for the US. Tesla delivered 911,208 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in 2021, but Cox Automotive estimates the company sold 121,877 Model 3 cars in the country across all of 2021.

But even if that estimate is off significantly up or down, it’s still likely good enough for us to put the Tesla Model 3 in second place on our list of top EVs.

1. Tesla Model Y

The Model Y is the best-selling electric car in the country, and it’s not even close.Tesla

The number one EV is easily the Tesla Model Y, with Cox Automotive estimating total US sales of 190,393 units. In all, Cox says Tesla has a 72% share of the US EV market, down from 80% in 2020 thanks to a host of new players.

Additionally, Tesla outsold Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz in the US luxury market, and all together, EVs accounted for 4.5% of all US new vehicle sales, a new record, claims Cox Automotive.

To learn more about all the new electric vehicles on the market, sign up for Jordan Golson’s car reviews newsletter on Substack.

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