“We are well on track to achieve our aim of becoming the market leader in battery electric vehicles,” Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Volkswagen’s most popular battery electric vehicle was the new ID.3, which sold 56,500 units. Sales of the compact e-Golf and even smaller e-up! were 41,300 and 22,200, respectively. Audi, the group’s luxury brand, sold 47,300 e-tron SUV and sportback models, while customers purchased 20,000 electric Porsche Taycans.
Sales of hybrid vehicles, which are powered by electricity and conventional fuels, also increased. Volkswagen sold 190,500 plug-in hybrids last year, a jump of 175% over 2019.
“2020 was a turning point for Volkswagen and marked a breakthrough in electric mobility,” Brandstätter said.
Volkswagen has said it plans to invest €35 billion ($43 billion) in electric vehicles by 2025, and the sales figures for 2020 suggest that customers are beginning to respond. The manufacturing giant intends to launch roughly 70 pure electric models by 2030 as it races to catch up with Tesla.
The electric boom came even as the pandemic pushed overall industry sales into reverse. Volkswagen Group sold 9.3 million cars in 2020, a 15% decline over the previous year, but it said that deliveries were down just 3.2% in December as demand rebounded.
Volkswagen is trying to prove that a carmaker that just a few years back was cheating regulators to sell polluting diesels can produce electric vehicles people want to buy and policymakers will embrace as they tackle the climate crisis.
It’s making significant inroads in some markets. In Norway, where financial incentives make most electric vehicle models cheaper to buy than similar petrol models, the Audi e-tron was the 2020 sales leader, surpassing Tesla’s Model 3.