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Prius Line Outsells Every Affordable BEV For 2021 - Bolt and Leaf Combined

Affordable battery-electric deliveries continue to flounder. The Prius line outsold every affordable BEV in 2021. Here are the delivery results for the U.S. market in 2021.

Toyota reported deliveries of 59,010 Prius vehicles in 2021 to the U.S. market. This number is higher than the combined deliveries of the Chevrolet Bolt line, including the Bolt EUV, and all trims of the Nissan Leaf. Toyota also delivered more Prius vehicles than Kia delivered Niros and Hyundai delivered IONIQ models combined. Please jump down to the delivery chart below for the actual delivery figures reported by the manufacturers.

Toyota’s Prius deliveries broke down into two main sections. The Hybrid-Electric Vehicle (HEV) Prius deliveries were 33,968 and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid-Electric (PHEV) deliveries totaled 25,042 units. The hybrid-electric Prius itself outsold every affordable battery-electric vehicle in America, as did the Prius Prime plug-in.

Delivery chart by John Goreham. Data from manufacturers. Prius Deliveries Rise 37% In 2021
The Prius line rose in deliveries in 2021. Overall, the model line had a delivery increase of over a third for the year. Prius hybrid trims were up 15% year over year. The Prius Prime PHEV nearly doubled in deliveries and averaged over 2,000 units per month. On par with its historical norms before the current shortages interrupted the global marketplace.

Hyundai & Kia Green Vehicle Deliveries
Hyundai’s electrified vehicle IONIQ line expanded dramatically in 2021. The overall deliveries were up 47% over 2020. We reached out to Hyundai and asked for a full breakdown of all its models by powertrain type (HEV, PHEV, BEV), but the company opted not to provide that level of detail.

However, Hyundai’s Michael Stewart did tell us that Hyundai delivered an impressive 75,009 hybrid, PHEV, electric and fuel cell vehicles in 2021. One other major milestone for Hyundai was the first delivery of the IONIQ 5. Hyundai made the vehicle available to journalists to drive in December on both the East and West coast, and we witnessed the first East-coast owner accept her keys. Hyundai remains the one to watch for strong green vehicle growth in the coming years.

In December of 2021, we also conducted a “secret shopper” visit to one Hyundai dealer in Mass. We confirmed that Hyundai’s dealer had green powertrain vehicles in stock for immediate delivery and that some had no market price adjustment. Like all manufacturers. Hyundai’s inventory was significantly reduced. However, an owner could walk in unannounced at least one dealer in a ZEV state and drive home a new green vehicle that same day without paying a huge markup. Your local dealer may have a different situation.

Kia’s Niro Deliveries
Kia’s Niro line deliveries grew about 40% in 2021. Kia also does not provide a detailed breakdown of its hybrid/PHEV/BEV delivery totals. The Niro BEV remains one of our personal favorites at TN. In our back-to-back drives with the much more expensive to own Tesla Model 3 SR+, we felt the Niro BEV was a serious contender.

Related Story: Why One Urban EV Shopper Chose the Kia Niro Instead of the Tesla Model 3

Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV
Chevrolet’s year began interestingly. New Bolts were in stock this past spring in Mass for immediate delivery with a buy-price of about $20K. Remember, that was with no federal tax incentive. Dealers were offering massive discounts approaching $20K and our local dealer reported 75 in stock. These were first-generation new Bolts, not the new ‘22 model year updated Bolts, but new nonetheless.

Torque News was honored to be part of Chevrolet’s Bolt EUV launch event. We drove the new Bolt EUV, tested the Super Cruise driver-assist system, and fell hard in love with the Bolt EUV. Hands-down, the Bolt EUV became our favorite entry-level 2WD small battery-electric crossover.

Chevy’s Bolt sales were going well in much of 2021. Bolt EUV demand was building ahead of its initial deliveries. However, an unfortunate manufacturing defect that in very rare instances was causing fires, required that GM discontinue new Bolt sales in late summer/early fall. Despite being off the market since about September, Bolt line sales still grew compared to 2020, which was a low point for Bolt deliveries. We predict the Prius line would have surpassed the Bolt line in sales had the Bolt not been pulled from the market, but it is impossible to say. One thing is clear; When the Bolt line returns at some point in 2022, it will again be a force in this segment.

Related Story: Tesla's Market Adjustment Of Model Y Raises Starting Price 44% In One Year

What Does “Affordable” Mean?
The term “affordable” as we use it means a vehicle that can be obtained at a cost well below the average selling price of a vehicle in America.

Related Story: Cheapest Tesla Model 3 Now Tops $45K With Just One Catch

While the vehicles in this grouping are a bit more expensive than a base trim small vehicle with a conventional powertrain, they are all vehicles that owners do obtain at a cost from the high $20Ks to the mid $30Ks. A Tesla Model 3 by contrast has a cost approximately 50% to 150% higher. The least expensive Model 3 one can order today has a consumer cost of over $45K. In late 2021 we spoke to Tesla and according to a Tesla employee, the least expensive Tesla Model 3 in stock in the Northeast (10 states) had a cost to the consumer of over $71K.

Tell us in the comments below what affordable green vehicle is of most interest to you in 2022.

Prius Fast Facts
-The Toyota Prius line has spanned three decades in America and today remains the leading affordable green vehicle option as measured by delivery volume.
-The Prius Has an unbroken streak of perfect 5-5 Consumer Reports Model Year Reliability Ratings longer than any other green vehicle.
-The Prius is available in all states in America.
-Toyota offers 11 trims of the Prius.
-The Prius Hybrid has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating as high as 58 MPG
-The Prius Prime PHEV has an EPA rating of 133 MPGe, higher than some battery-electric models.
- Every Prius trim can travel on electricity alone for short distances.
- The Prus Prime has an EV-only range of about 25 miles.
- The Prius is available with all-wheel drive.
- With up to 51 cubic feet of cargo volume, the Prius has a cargo capacity comparable to many small crossovers.

Here is a full breakdown of every green vehicle Toyota model sold in the U.S. in 2021.
Toyota vehicle delivery chart courtesy of Toyota media support.

Image of Toyota Prius parked near Tesla Supercharger by John Goreham. Combined delivery chart by John Goreham. Data from manufacturers' annual public delivery reports. Toyota 2021 green vehicle delivery chart courtesy of Toyota media support.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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Martin WINLOW (not verified)    January 8, 2022 - 4:54AM

Baffled as to what your point is. It is clear that you understand the difference between an EV and a hybrid but perhaps you are (like many) unaware that even plug-in hybrids will make precisely zero difference to global warming, local pollution, the obscene power of Big Oil or pretty much anything else of any import in today's world... Hybrids just represent the continuance of the status quo ... and perhaps the stupidity and/or ignorance that is the average consumer.

John Goreham    January 8, 2022 - 12:11PM

In reply to by Martin WINLOW (not verified)

The status quo is 133 MPGe vehicles? Vehicles that can travel 25 miles with no tailpipe emissions don't help with local pollution? Come on Martin, put down the Kool-Aid. Where in the story did I mistakenly refer to a Prius PHEV or HEV an "EV?"