EV and PHEV sales in Europe have set another record in 2018 with a 22% increase to nearly 345.000 sales of plug-in vehicles, of which close to 190.000 full electric cars and almost 155.000 plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of the former surged 44% while PHEV sales were virtually stable at +3,3%. 2018 therefore marks the first year that battery electric cars outsold PHEVs. Plug-in vehicles accounted for 2,2% of the European car market, up from 1,8% in 2017 and 1,4% in 2016. The rate of growth for EVs in Europe still lags that of worldwide EV sales, which grew by 73% in 2018.
After discussing overall worldwide car sales in 2018, let’s zoom in on the most booming segment of all: that of EVs. Global sales of battery electric cars increased 73% in 2018 to 1.26 million units, after already jumping 86% the year before. That means worldwide sales of EVs jumped more than threefold in just two years time. Of course these are all new records as the market for electric cars is still in its infancy and has plenty of room to grow in coming years. The major factors pushing up EV sales in 2018 were demand from China (partially thanks to government incentives), the launch of the Tesla Model 3 and the diesel crisis in Europe which helped consumers become aware of the available alternative powertrain technologies and the benefits of driving electric. China was by far the largest market for electric cars, with 61% of worldwide sales registered in this market, followed by the USA with 16.6% and then Norway with 3.6%, which is also the country with – by far – the highest penetration of EVs worldwide. At 31.2%, battery electric cars represented almost 1 in every 3 sales in Norway. Including plug-in hybrids, that figure would even increase to nearly 1 in every 2 sales.
EV and PHEV sales in Europe have set another record in 2017 with a 33% increase to top 282.000 sales of plug-in vehicles, of which 132.000 full electric cars and 150.000 plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of the former surged 35% while PHEV sales spiked 31%. This means plug-in vehicles accounted for 1,8% of the European car market, up from 1,4% in 2016.
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.
After discussing the China car sales figures for 2016, we’ll take a more detailed look into sales of EVs and PHEVs in the People’s Republic, which is by far the biggest market for Plug-in passenger cars in the world with a share of 44% of the world’s sales of this type of vehicle. That’s up from just 6% in 2013, helped by generous and sometimes fraud-prone subsidies. Will this quick rise continue? The Beijing central government has set a goal of 3 million EV sales in China by 2025, up from the almost 325.000 in 2016, so it’s definitely aiming for it. They will switch from the carrot strategy (subsidies) to the stick strategy (a carbon-credit scheme and a Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard), effective within the next few years, which mean foreign automakers will be forced to enter this market too. At the moment, most of China’s EV sales come from the local brands: Chinese automakers have produced 43% of all Plug-in cars built in 2016 worldwide. However, in the short term there is some uncertainty in the market as the central government’s subsidies will decline in 2017 to prepare for the new strategy. But moreover, the government has set standards for EV energy consumption and range, which could lead to a shakeout of mainly manufacturers of small and cheap EV citycars, many of whom are likely to fail to meet these tougher guidelines. [Read more…]
This is a guest post from one of our enthusiast readers, Colman Murphy. If you’re interested in reaching an audience of almost 200,000 monthly viewers with your automotive related article, get in touch with us! We’re looking for guest writers and additional staff.
The acquisition of Solar City by Tesla on November 21st leaves no doubt the latter is increasingly an energy company. Question is, does that make it less of a car company? I doubt Elon Musk feels compelled to focus on just one business — he’s had his hands simultaneously in Space-X, Tesla and Solar City for a decade now — but the combined debt and portfolios of Tesla and Solar City must be a source of many a discussion if not discontent among the company’s board and its investors. Earlier this year, this website already discussed a vision of long-term strategy of Tesla, which also brought up the idea that Elon Musk is looking beyond its current form as a car manufacturer.
There are no indications that Tesla must exit the car market, at least not in the near term. There are very few other brands — automotive or otherwise — that have executed their vision as effectively as Tesla, and that brand strength alone could carry the company for many years. But the Electric Vehicle/Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) landscape is getting ever so crowded; Tesla’s next vehicle, the Model 3, will impose significant pressure on its profit margins; and a Republican-controlled US government is more likely to favor low oil prices and big trucks from the major corporations over green-technology vehicles made by niche manufacturers on the West Coast. With that as backdrop, a move away from cars might well be the right move for Tesla. [Read more…]