Last year, China overtook both the US and Europe in annual sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. This year, it will move ahead of both the US and Europe in cumulative plug-in vehicle sales. And with the Chinese government continuing to offer substantial investments to spur further plug-in vehicle development, there's little chance of that trend reversing anytime soon.

By the end of this year, China will have accounted for about 645,000 light-duty plug-in vehicle sales since 2010, Hybrid Cars says. That's about 30,000 more than Europe and about 70,000 more than the US. China can also chalk up another 200,000 units or so in commercial plug-in vehicles, including heavy-duty trucks and city buses.

Of course, the vehicle-construction standards in China, where all but four percent of plug-ins are domestically produced, may not quite match up to those in Europe or the US. More than 90 percent of China plug-ins are compacts, sub-compacts or neighborhood-electric vehicles, meaning that very few of those vehicles would feel at home on US highways. Regardless, China is shooting for plug-ins to account for about 40 percent of its total light-duty vehicle sales, or about 15 million units, by 2030. To put that number in perspective, Americans bought 17.4 million passenger vehicles – total – last year.

Earlier this year, EV Sales predicted that China's BYD Tang SUV would be the best-selling electric vehicle in China this year, with about 75,000 units sold. The China-produced Kandi Panda was slated to move about 55,000 units, putting it in second place, while EV Sales said the Zotye Cloud would sell about 25,000 units of its EV. By comparison, Tesla Motors was expected to sell about 10,000 of its Model S and Model X vehicles this year.

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