Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles and the Plug-In Hybrid segments, let’s look at the final Alternative Power segment: regular hybrids. This segment is the most well-established of the three, with sales in the first half of 2017 almost twice as high as sales in the other two segments combined. As a result, the growth in the segment was not as high as for the other two, but 24.9% is nothing to be sneered at, as it was still higher than any non-Alternative Power segment bar the SUV Premium Compact segment.
Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles segment, let’s look at plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs for short. The segment enjoyed a growth rate of 61.6%, the highest of all segments, though its total sales remain below those of pure Electric Vehicles, at just over 40,000 in the first half of the year.
Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased by a substantial 32.2%, a rate of expansion considerably faster than that of the second fastest-growing segment, SUV Premium Compact. Comprising of regular hybrid, PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and EV (electric vehicle) segments, Alternative Power cars ended the first half of 2017 with almost 260,000 cars sold, more than the Subcompact segment, and not far off the Minivan segment. For accounting purposes, keep in mind that we classify many of the Alternative Power cars in other segments too e.g. Toyota Prius liftback figures in the Compact segment, while Ford Fusion PHEV figures in the Mid-sized segment. At least part of the reason for this growth is that EVs and PHEVs continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates, which lower their price even before consumers consider the lower cost at the pumps/mains.
First, let us look at the EVs segment, which grew by 41.2% in the first half of 2017, to a total of 45,150 cars.
Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased a hopeful 47.2% in the first quarter of 2017 to 41,132 units, or 1% of the total US market. This is a combination of a 39.4% growth for EVs to 21,379 sales and a 56.7% growth for PHEVs to 19,753 sales. The EV segment is still slightly larger but the PHEV segment grows faster and is catching up, as especially luxury brands are entering this niche of the market before making a switch to full electric models. While regular (non-plug in) hybrids are struggling due to low gas prices, EVs and PHEV continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates that stimulate sales of these vehicles. And new entrants will keep arriving in showrooms this year, so expect the growth to continue.
EV and PHEV sales in Europe have set another record in 2016, but the growth curve has significantly slowed, with just a 7% gain for battery electric cars and 17% for Plug-in hybrid cars, compared to an overall market up 6,2%. As a result, combined sales of all plug-in vehicles grew from 1,4% of the market in 2015 to 1,5% in 2016. While we hit the 100.000 annual sales milestone for PHEVs, EVs missed that target by just 2.500 units, as customers were waiting for the “next generation” EVs with longer range which arrived late 2016 (BMW i3) or early 2017 (Renault Zoe, VW e-Golf). Also, a number of governments, most notably Denmark and Sweden, have dialed back on their EV incentives in 2016 while Germany’s new EV and PHEV subsidy hasn’t made a big impact yet. In The Netherlands, an incentive on PHEV’s as company cars was cut in 2017 so that boosted deliveries of these vehicles in the last few months as customers wanted to benefit from the incentives before they ended. As a result, 2017 PHEV sales are expected to crash and burn in The Netherlands while EVs are expected to show healthy growth there because this will be the only type of vehicle to receive government incentives.
2016 is set to once again break a new record for both EV and PHEV sales in Europe, but mostly thanks to Plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of battery electric cars increased just 7% in the first three quarters of the year to 70.654 units, after improving by almost 50% in both 2015 and 2014. This means we’ll probably have to wait until 2017 to reach 100.000 annual EV sales in Europe, because a number of governments, most notably Denmark and Sweden, have dialed back on their EV incentives in 2016. Sales of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles are also slowing down their growth curve, but still improved by 45% and look set top 100.000 sales this year already. Total sales of plug-in vehicles are up 24% to 151.912, or 1,3% of the overall market, compared to 1,1% in the first nine months of 2015.