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.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
The Renault Zoe sets a new record for the highest annual sales of any electric car in Europe with sales up 15% to 21.240, even though sales were down 17% in Q4 as buyers were anticipating the launch of the new longer range Zoe 40 kWh which was rolled out to some markets by the end of the year. The Nissan Leaf is starting to show its age, but is kept relevant with discounts, which boosted the model 19% (including +46% in Q4) to consolidate its second place ahead of the Tesla Model S, down 24% for the year and -48% in the final quarter due to cannibalization of the Model X SUV. Total Tesla brand sales were stable for the year as the Model X lands in 9th place for the year and 6th place in Q4. The effects of a longer range can also be seen at BMW with the i3: if in previous years approximately two thirds of i3’s were ordered with the optional Range Extender, after it was upgraded 33 kWh battery that ratio was turned upside down with two thirds EV orders.
The Volkswagen e-Golf will be upgraded in 2017 when the model is facelifted, and it loses 40% of its volume in 2016 in anticipation of the new version. The Kia Soul EV lost a quarter of its volume and was down more than half in Q4, just like the e-Golf. The two electric commercial vans Nissan e-NV200 and Renault Kangoo switch places as the former gains 185% in Q4 while the latter loses 37%. The Mercedes-Benz B250e adds 27% and grows its share of total B-Class sales from 3,5% to 4,8%. We also welcome the new Hyundai Ioniq EV, starting off with a third of total volume for the model, with the hybrid making up the balance as the plug-in hybrid wasn’t yet available.
In 2017 we can expect a number of new and updated models, including but not limited to: Smart Fortwo Electric drive and its four-door version Forfour Electric Drive, an upgraded Nissan Leaf and Kia Soul EV. The Tesla Model 3 is promised too in the second half of 2017, but even if the brand meets that deadline, it’s likely to start deliveries in the US, while Europe will have to wait until at least 2018. By that time Jaguar will also launch the I-Pace electric crossover, and Mercedes-Benz may have the first model of its EQ subbrand ready. Also expected in 2017, but suddenly unsure, is the Opel Ampera-e, the European version of the Chevrolet Bolt EV. It was supposed to arrive in Europe in Q2 of 2017, but the takeover of Opel/Vauxhall by PSA has delayed that launch and depending on the negotiations between GM and PSA that delay may become indefinately, as GM may be unwilling to share one of its core technologies with a rival which so far has lagged in the development of EVs on its own.
After PHEV sales were artificially boosted in the final quarter of 2015 as a number of generous subsidies in a few countries (most notably The Netherlands) were about to be reduced, the segment ends 2016 with sales up 17% to break through the 100.000 annual sales milestone for the first time. The ranking proves pretty volatile with a number of new models storming the charts while we also see 7 models with double digit losses as the competition has heated. For example, the segment leader Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV loses 32% for the year and 46% in Q4, which translates into 10.000 lost units as the share of the PHEV version dips from two thirds of total Outlander sales to just over half. In second place we still find a Volkswagen, but the Passat GTE has taken over from the Golf GTE as the latter lost 61% in the last quarter. The Passat’s main rival Mercedes-Benz C350e is in fourth place for the year but was on the podium in Q4, ahead of the BMW 330e, another direct rival. The best seller of the large plug-in SUVs is the Volvo XC90 T8, which represents over a quarter of total sales for the model. It was challenged in Q4 by the Audi Q7 e-Tron, which outsold the BMW X5 40e in those last three months. The Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz GLE500e reach much lower volumes.
In terms of total brand sales of PHEVs, BMW is king with its four models adding up to 28.306 sales, compared to VW’s 24.439 sales. The BMW 225xe Active Tourer reaches a similar penetration as the 330e (and also Passat GTE and C350e) of about 6%. The Volvo V60 Twin Engine diesel plug-in is starting to show its age and was unable to withstand the increased competition and lost more than half of its volume in Q4. The BMW i8 is expected to get a boost from the new Spyder version arriving in 2017.
Also in 2017 we’ll welcome the BMW 530e and its rivals Volvo S90 and V90 T8. In the crossover segment we’ll get the Kia Niro PHEV and Mini Countryman S E All4, which shares its platform and tech with the 225xe. The Toyota Prius Plug-in will arrive in Europe, and Porsche will launch the Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid as its sedan flagship and the fastest Panamera ever.
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