The world likely bought a half-million plug-in vehicles in 2015

Tesla Model S Edging Nissan Leaf As Top-Selling Model

2015 looks to be a landmark year for the plug-in vehicle industry. That's because global sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are slated to eclipse the half-million-unit mark this year, according to the most comprehensive tracker of plug-in vehicle sales we know of, EV Sales. And the world's largest maker of plug-ins will indeed be based in China.

BYD had sold almost 51,000 plug-in vehicles through November, with the BYD Qin accounting for almost two-thirds of those sales. In fact, China-based plug-ins like the BYD Qin and Kandi Panda electric vehicle continue to pick up market share, while longtime global leaders like the Nissan Leaf EV and Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in have been moving in the opposite direction.

As individual models go, the Tesla Model S overtook the Leaf for global plug-in leadership, and the luxury EV has moved more than 42,000 units year to date. Mitsubishi has sold more than 36,000 of its Outlander Plug-in Hybrid worldwide. Also coming up big was the BMW i3 EV, with more than 22,000 units sold through November. The Kandi Panda, Renault Zoe, Chevy Volt, BAIC E-Series and Volkswagen e-Golf all moved between 14,000 and 16,000 units through the first 11 months of the year.

The results suggest a sizable jump in demand for plug-ins in regions such as China and Europe as things tail off a bit (temporarily, green-car advocates are hoping) in the US. Through November, stateside sales of plug-ins were down about 11 percent from a year earlier to about 96,000 units, making the global uptick all the more impressive.

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