Hard numbers provide the latest evidence that shows China is by far the world's largest market for plug-in cars—or new energy vehicles, as they are referred to locally.

The latest round of sales figures show the Chinese bought almost exactly twice the number of plug-in vehicles as car buyers in the United States did.

Despite the high figures, sales had slowed during the month of January due to the fewer subsidies from the Chinese government.

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In total, Chinese buyers purchased 181,200 battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles through June of this year.

U.S. car buyers purchased 89,256 plug-in cars in comparison, according data from InsideEVs cited in the summary on ChargedEVs.

The total number of plug-in cars sold in China was 42 percent higher than the same period last year, once again despite the lower subsidies.

2016 BYD Tang plug-in hybrid SUV, made in China

2016 BYD Tang plug-in hybrid SUV, made in China

While that number may seem substantial, plug-in cars only represented 2.5 percent of China's new-car market during the first half of 2017.

The mix differed from that in the U.S.: 82 percent of new-energy vehicles sold in China in that time were pure battery-electric cars, not plug-in hybrids.

In China, rules and regulations have been tightened to make it harder for plug-in hybrids to qualify for generous subsidies, while battery-electric vehicles clear the new regulations since they do not use fossil fuels at all.

READ THIS: Plug-in electric car sales for July: Bolt EV, Prime, Volt, Teslas, Leaf lead (updated)

It remains difficult to gauge the exact number of plug-in cars sold in the U.S. since Tesla does not break down its quarterly sales totals by country.

We know, however, that the Silicon Valley automaker delivered 22,000 cars globally through June of this year—but how many of those deliveries were in the U.S. is unclear.

In China, most battery-electric vehicle sales are from home-market automakers, not foreign brands.

Tesla Model S charging from public electric network, Sichuan Province, China [photo: Car News China]

Tesla Model S charging from public electric network, Sichuan Province, China [photo: Car News China]

Non-Chinese brands accounted for only 6 percent of battery-electric car sales, with the majority of that share coming from Tesla.

Of course, one state continues to lead national trends in electric cars: California.

In that state, both kinds of electric cars now total almost 5 percent of new-car sales.

CHECK OUT: Electric cars now 5 percent of California new-car sales: report

Nationwide, nearly half of all battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold were registered in California last year.

Local and state incentives continue to drive the zero-emission vehicle market forward in the state of California.

State environmental officials have held talks with their national counterparts in China to share information on incentives and methods to boost the number of zero-emission vehicles.


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