From now on I will also have PHEV sales in Europe available, every quarter. These sales will be published separately from EV sales. Since the BMW i3 is available with an optional range extending internal combustion engine, and most buyers opt for the more expensive PHEV version instead of for the full-EV version, the i3 will be featured in the PHEV ranking.
Sales of full electric cars in Europe continue their impressive increase, up 57% on the first nine months of 2013, as new models are introduced onto the market. The arrival of the Volkswagen e-Up! and e-Golf haven’t hurt sales of the existing top-3 players, as those models continue to grow as well. With more EVs from several brands available on the market, awareness and acceptance of Zero Emission vehicles will rise, helping the segment as a whole.
The Nissan Leaf grows almost as fast as the market, with sales up 47% on last year, which already was a record year both for the Leaf and for any EV. In September, the Leaf broke the 2.000 monthly units threshold for the first time ever, underscoring the increasing interest in the car. Worldwide sales of the Leaf show a similar trend, with sales in the US and Japan, its other important markets, also showing continued growth. But Nissan has a bigger picture in mind, as CEO Carlos Ghosn is bullish on the potential for EVs in developing countries, where cars with ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) are not yet as established as in the Western world. China is a logical market, if only because of its size, but many small countries can add up quickly as well. For example, Ghosn has struck a deal to supply Leafs to the government of Bhutan in the Himalayas, which wants to switch to electric transport exclusively.
Official European deliveries of the Tesla Model S started only last August, so naturally its year-over-year sales show an impressive increase, but this conceals the fact that its deliveries appear to be slowing down already, selling an average of just 450 units a month in the third quarter. Besides the apparent slowdown, sales of the Model S are much less stable than for other models, peaking at over 2.200 units in March before tumbling down to below 400 units in April. Nonetheless, its sales performance is no less impressive, considering the price level of the American sedan.
The Tesla has knocked down the Renault Zoe from second to third place, as sales of the subcompact EV are stable on last year. However, after showing a slight decline until the third quarter, sales of the Zoe more than doubled in September as Renault appears to have abandoned its heavily criticized strategy of not giving buyers the choice to buy the car including the battery outright. Until now, you could only buy the car without the battery, which had to be leased with a monthly subscription. This concept made sense in theory, considering the subscription included replacement of the battery if its capacity dropped below 75%, and the monthly fee was still lower than what an average driver pays at the pump every month, but consumers apparently didn’t feel comfortable with the concept.
Introduced in the last quarter of 2013, the VW e-Up! has managed to outsell the Zoe four months out of nine this year, but still trails the little Renault year-to-date in fourth place. With the Zoe now available without the battery-lease, it will be interesting to see how this battle develops in 2015. Volkswagen has another new player in the EV segment, when it introduced the e-Golf in the first half of the year. In the third quarter, the e-Golf sold at a similar pace as the e-Up!, indicating the larger one may become the best seller of the pair. The Golf now has the broadest variety of powertrains available on the market, thanks to the flexibility of its modular MQB platform. Europe’s best selling car is available with gasoline, diesel, CNG, Plug-in Hybrid, and electric powertrains. The electric version is hard to distinguish from the other versions, both inside and out, and this may appeal to buyers who want to drive an EV anonymously, but others may want the whole world to know they’re being eco-friendly. The Ford Focus electric hasn’t exactly struck a chord with customers, so I’d love to see how the e-Golf’s sales compare to those of the Leaf next year.
Other recent new entrants include the Nissan e-NV200, available as a cargo van and passenger van, the Kia Soul EV and the Chinese BYD e6.
The PHEV segment in Europe is the fastest growing segment this year, more than tripling in size year-over-year. The main contributor to this rise is the hugely successful introduction of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the last quarter of 2013. The Outlander has stormed into the lead, taking a share of more than 50% of the segment. The PHEV version also takes up more than half of all Outlander deliveries in Europe, a share that’s likely to grow even further as government subsidies of Plug-In vehicles roll out across the continent.
Unfortunately, I have to exact data available for the take-rate of the range-extending gasoline option on the BMW i3, but most buyer opt to pay an extra € 4.500,- for some piece of mind with regard to their anxiety. The i3 is therefore ranked as a PHEV and it’s in second place of the segment with over 5.000 sales in nine months. Deliveries are constrained by the limited production, as BMW claims it could sell many more if it could build them. The same goes for the i8 Plug-In sports car, which is selling at a tenth of the volume of its smaller sibling, but has already become Europe’s best selling exotic car in the third quarter.
The Volvo V60 D6 AWD is still the only car that combines a Plug-In electric powertrain to a diesel engine, and the best looking PHEV on the market, not counting the exotics like the i8 and 918 Spyder. It’s doing especially well in countries with incentives for electrified cars, like The Netherlands, as the Dutch buy two thirds of all V60 Plug-In production and where the D6 AWD manages a take-rate of 58%. Volvo believes in the concept of Plug-In cars, as the Plug-in version of new generation XC90, due in showrooms early 2015, is expected to become the model’s most popular powertrain.
These three models have a combined share of over 87 percent of the segment, with all others selling in minor numbers, which isn’t surprising for high-end cars like the Porsches Panamera and Cayenne S e-Hybrid, BMW i8 and Mercedes-Benz S500e. The Audi e-tron and VW Golf GTE have only recently been introduced, and are likely to storm up the charts as more production volume becomes available.
This won’t happen with the trio Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari (no data available), as production of these three supercars is extremely limited. This is also the first time sales figures for the 918 Spyder and the P1 are published on this site.
PLUG-IN HYBRID CAR
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Volvo V60 D6 AWD
Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid
Toyota Prius Plug-in
Audi A3 e-tron
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Porsche 918 Spyder
Porsche Cayenne S e-Hyrbrid
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2013 and monthly sales in 2012 and 2013, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site.
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