EV and PHEV sales in Europe continue to break records in 2019 with a 64% increase to nearly 565,000 sales of plug-in vehicles, which is 3.6% of the total European car market, up from 2.2% in 2018. Of this, full electric cars make up 361,000 sales, up 90% on the previous year, which gives them a 2.3% share of the car market. PHEV sales are up 31% to 203,000 units, which is a share of 1.3%. These figures are only set to improve significantly again in 2020 as the new average fleet emissions quota of 95 grams per kilometer are virtually impossible to be reached for any brand without plug-in vehicles which will be counted double towards the fleet average.
In the electric car ranking, the newly arrived Tesla Model 3 immediately storms to the top of the charts to become Europe’s best selling EV in 2019 with more than double the sales of its closest rival Renault Zoe, which is up 19% to once again set a new annual sales record as it has done every year since its launch in 2013. The Zoe leapfrogs the Nissan Leaf, down 18% on its record year 2018. This means the entire top-3 consists of EV-only models, with the Volkswagen e-Golf as best selling EV version of an existing model. The e-Golf has been in clearance sale mode in preparation of the all-new Volkswagen ID.3 in 2020. As a result, the e-Golf is up 36% to a new record for the nameplate, with a take rate of 7.5% as overall Golf sales are down because of an upcoming model change. The BMW i3, with an estimated 83.4% of total sales without the optional range extender and thus pure EV, which is an increase of 31% to set a new annual sales record as well. The Hyundai Kona EV has a take rate of 22.7% which is one of the highest of the class, after its sibling Hyundai Ioniq, which has a take rate of 28.7% but that model has no traditional gasoline-powered version, only hybrid, PHEV and EV. The Electric is the second most popular version but sales are down 13% in 2019. The Audi e-tron lands at #7 at more than double the sales of the Tesla Model X and also ahead of the Jaguar I-Pace. The Smart Fortwo ED is up 36% to a new annual record for the nameplate, but still a figure too low to support the model when it ends sales of its combustion engine models. The Kia Niro EV outsells the Ioniq in its first year, but still has a lower take rate at 19%, which is just below that of the PHEV version. Tesla’s larger models are struggling after the arrival of the Model 3, with the Model S down by half and the Model X down by more than a third. Hyundai sold 362 units of its Nexo Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle, of which 140 in Germany and 108 in The Netherlands but just 22 in Norway, where hydrogen cars are much less in demand than battery electric vehicles. An exploded hydrogen fuel station in June didn’t help its cause either. No Nexo’s were sold in Norway after that event.
In 2020, we expect a much greater number of entrants, which should help accelerate the growth of EV sales in Europe to jump almost 50% to over half a million units. In alphabetical order, the most important upcoming new launches in 2019 are: Audi Q4 e-Tron, BMW i4 and iX3, Ford Mustang Mach-e, Honda e, Jaguar XJ, Mini Cooper SE, Peugeot e-2008, e-208 and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa e as well as EV versions of their midsized vans Peugeot Traveller, Citroën Spacetourer and Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Life, Polestar 2, Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.3 and Volvo XC40 EV.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles had a great Q4 of 2019, as they finish the year with a 31% growth rate at just over 200,000 sales. After September, the segment was still down on 2018 but with 75,000 sales in Q4 it managed to turn around quickly, a very promising sign for 2020 when a flock of new PHEV models will hit the market. Stricter government regulations have forced manufacturers to increase battery size and thus range of their PHEVs to reach a decent range on a full charge which helps them get below 50 g/km of CO2, the threshold used by many governments to qualify for subsidies or even to be allowed in some city centers. It’s also the threshold used by the EU in its supercredit system that will be implemented in 2020, which gives automakers extra credits for every car sold that emits less than 50 g/km and fines them for an average above a set limit that will be lower every year (95 g/km in 2020). With technology improving and automakers increasingly relying on electrified vehicles to keep down their average fuel economy, a wave of new and updated PHEVs are ready to be launched early 2020 as manufacturers are unlikely to be able to reach those 95 g/km without any plug-in hybrid vehicles.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV stays on top of the European plug-in hybrid ranking as it has done ever since its launch. With a new record of over 34,500 sales, the Outlander has a record take rate of over 81%, by far the most of any PHEV on the market, bar PHEV-only models like the BMW i8. The Mini Countryman PHEV storms to 2nd place with nearly 16,000 sales, less than half the figure of the Outlander, but nonetheless an impressive figure, with a take rate of almost one third of Countryman sales in Europe. The Volvo XC60 T8 is relegated to third place despite also improving its sales and take rate, to over 20%, while the BMW 530e becomes the brand’s best selling PHEV ahead of the 225xe Active Tourer, which accounts for almost a fourth of total sales of the Active Tourer and Gran Tourer combined. The Mercedes-Benz E300e and E300de arrive and are not far off the 5-Series, which means they could move ahead in 2020. The Kia Niro PHEV is up 9% but its share of total Niro sales is down due to the arrival of the Niro EV which looks set to become the second most popular version of the Niro in 2020 when it has full-year availability, a similar trend we see at the Hyundai Ioniq, where the Hybrid is by far the most popular, then the EV while the PHEV is far less in demand. The updated BMW 330e is up both in terms of absolute sales and take rate, and may become the brand’s best selling plug-in hybrid model in 2020.
This year we expect a wave of new plug-in hybrid models, most notably versions of the Peugeot 508 and 3008, as well as the latter’s siblings Opel/Vauxhall Grandland X and DS7 Crossback, Volkswagen will relaunch the Golf GTE and Passat GTE with larger battery packs and Porsche will relaunch the Cayenne and Panamera e-Hybrid as well as a Bentley Bentayga with the same technology. BMW will add the X3 to its PHEV portfolio and update the X5, while Mercedes-Benz will bring updated plug-in versions of the C- and S-Class as well as the GLC and GLE. Jeep is launching plug-in versions of its Renegade, Compass and Wrangler, Audi of the Q5, A6, A7 and A8, and Volvo will launch the S60 sedan with the twin engine technology.
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