European sales of EV and PHEV continue their explosive growth rate, at +54% for full electric cars and +106% for Plug-in Hybrid electric cars. Both subsegments have already surpassed their 2014 total sales in less than nine months. As ever more brands rush to enter these fast growing segments, even the existing models keep attracting a larger customer base. Of the 18 electric cars in the ranking, only 5 show a decline in sales, and only 3 of the 13 PHEVs face a similar fate.
As we go, we’re on track to sell about 80.000 full electric cars and a similar number of plug-in electric vehicles in Europe this year, which naturally both would be all-time records. This would also mean that the percentage of cars sold with a plug would surpass the 1% mark of total European car sales. Still a trickle, but no less a milestone and an indicator of things to come.
The Nissan Leaf has been the leader of the EV segment in Europe since shortly after its introduction, and in Q3 it has fended off a challenge from its family rival Renault Zoe, which had come within spitting distance in the first half of 2015. The Leaf has extended its lead to just over 1.000 units after Q3 and has the momentum, so it looks set to rack up another year at the top. It surely has helped that the Leaf has been equipped with a 25% larger battery (30 kWh) for the higher trim levels this fall, giving it a range of 170 km of real world driving. In its turn, the Zoe is under threat from the Tesla Model S, which appears to have found a sweet spot at just over 1.000 units a month in Europe, putting it firmly into third place and not far behind the little Renault, which costs about a quarter of the Tesla.
The Volkswagen e-Golf is in a distant fourth place and the first model that’s not developed as a dedicated electric car. Only 2,1% of all VW Golf sales in Europe are propelled by electric power only. As you can see further down below, another 2,5% of European Golfs are equipped with both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, making it 4,6% that is sold with a plug.
The Kia Soul is enjoying a much higher take rate for its electric version, and as these figures include Norway, they are not influenced by Kia’s manipulation to lower its EU mandated fleet CO2 emission figure. As you’ve read in that article, almost all of the Soul EVs end up in the streets of Norway, where owners of electric cars receive attractive incentives. However, as Norway is not an EU member state, these cars don’t count towards a manufacturer’s average fleet emissions, so Hyundai-Kia has decided to cheat the system by registering a large number of Soul EVs in Germany, even for just a single day, before shipping them to Norway as “used” cars.
The Renault Kangoo Z.E. also was boosted by a large order from the Scandinavian country, as the Norwegian postal company “Posten” ordered 240 units of the Kangoo Maxi Z.E. to add to their existing fleet of 900 electric cars, bicycles and quadricycles. As a result, the Kangoo has moved back ahead of the Nissan e-NV200 Evalia, which enjoys the highest take rate of electric versions among all non-dedicated EVs, at 50,4% thanks to its popularity with taxi companies.
The Volkswagen e-Up! doesn’t seem to have become a true success story, as it sales are already down by half. Mercedes-Benz has joined the mass-market EV with the B-Class Electric Drive, which reaches a 5% take rate in Q3. Behind the Renault Twizy quadricycle, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is down 16% as the new generation Fortwo is not yet available with an electric motor. Smart will continue to supply the Car2Go carsharing program with previous generation Fortwo ED until the new generation is launched, not for another full year.
The Mitsubishi-built Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero are surprisingly up, despite the increased competition from more advanced and honestly simply better models. These are most likely unsold stock models that are being sold with heavy discounts, as PSA still had a large number of unsold EVs when Mitsubishi stopped supply of the models to make battery capacity available for the much more successful Outlander PHEV.
At 53 units, the Hyundai ix35 FCEV proves that fuel cell vehicles still have a long way to go to mass market acceptation, of course a charging/filling infrastructure still needs to be built first. It will get competition from the Toyota Mirai as early as 2016 or perhaps even Q4 of this year.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV continues to reign supreme in the Plug-in Hybrid segment, not only by selling more than double of its nearest competitor, but also with its take rate of 63%. However, the Volkswagen Golf GTE and its “premium” platform sibling Audi A3 e-Tron together outsold the Outlander in Q3 with combined sales of 7.032 units vs. 5.862 for the Japanese SUV.
The A3 e-Tron even surpasses the BMW i3, which is classified as a PHEV because of its optional Range Extender, which accounts for more than half of all i3 sales. The Volvo V60 D6 AWD is down a little under increased competition from the Mercedes-Benz C350e, which outsold the V60 Plug-in in Q3. The C350e has already been sold out thanks to subsidies on plug-in vehicles from most European governments. But Volvo dealers won’t be too worries, as they’re eagerly awaiting the upcoming XC90 T8 dual engine, which has also already been sold out before its official launch. As a result, the XC90 is likely to move ahead of the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid next year.
In the Plug-in limousine race, the Mercedes-Benz S500e has surpassed the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid, although the latter still has a take rate for the plug-in version that’s three times as high as that of the Benz at 12,2% vs. 4,4%. However, in Q3 that ratio was 8,3% for the Panamera vs. 7% for the S-Class.
We welcome a promising newcomer to the segment: the Volkswagen Passat GTE has a modest start at 248 units, but is highly likely to be limited by supply as well, as it should storm up the charts in 2016. A top-3 position should be possible if VW can make enough of them.
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2014 and monthly sales in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
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