EV and PHEV sales in Europe continue to break records in 2019 with a 44% increase to nearly 126.000 sales of plug-in vehicles, of which close to 83.000 full electric cars and almost 43.000 plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of the former surged almost doubled at +94% while PHEV sales were virtually stable at -3%. If in 2018 battery electric cars outsold PHEVs for the first time, in the first quarter of 2019 almost twice as many EVs were delivered than plug-in hybrids. Plug-in vehicles accounted for 3,1% of the European car market, up from 2% in the first quarter of 2018 and 2,2% in the full year 2018.
The big news in EV-land in 2019 is the thunderous arrival of the Tesla Model 3, as the first batch of pre-ordered cars were delivered to European customers in February and March. As a result, the Model 3 immediately landed in the top spot of the sales charts with over 18.000 deliveries, giving it a share of 22% of EV sales in the first quarter. Tesla is likely aiming for between 75.000 and 100.000 deliveries of the Model 3 this year, with the next shipment expected to flood the streets in June. The Model 3 does not seem to cannibalize the existing electric cars, with the Renault Zoe improving 31% even though a second generation will arrive later this year and Peugeot is already taking orders for the e-208. The Nissan Leaf is up 12% as deliveries of the 62kWh version will start in Q2. The Volkswagen e-Golf is closing in on the Leaf with a 21% increase, maintaining its position as the best selling non-dedicated EV and a take rate of 5,6%. That position is threatened by the Hyundai Kona EV, arriving in 5th place with a take rate of 23,7% just 230 sales behind the Golf. The BMW i3, with an estimated take rate of 33% for the Range Extender, sells just under 5.500 units without the REx, as the i3 improves 42% thanks to the larger battery version. The Kia Niro EV lands at #7 with a 22,2% take rate, while the Jaguar I-Pace arrives at #8, still ahead of the Audi e-Tron at #10. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric has a take rate of 30,8%, compared to 56,8% for the normal hybrid without a plug. The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is down 22% and its take rate is down to 13,1%, which doesn’t seem to bode well for the plans to make Smart into an EV-only brand, but keep in mind customers may be holding out for the larger 30kWh battery.
In 2019, we expect a much greater number of entrants, which should help accelerate the growth of EV sales in Europe. Sales of EVs are expected to jump almost 60% to 300.000 in 2019 and another 50% in 2020 to 450.000. In alphabetical order, the most important upcoming new launches in 2019 are: DS3 Crossback e-tense, Honda e, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Mini e, Peugeot e-208, Porsche Taycan and Volvo XC40 EV.
PHEV sales were pretty much stable in 2018 and continued so in the first quarter of 2019 with a 3% decline in deliveries. And it would be easy to point out that plug-in hybrids are be on the way out now that full EVs have improved their range, eliminating the most important selling point for PHEVs: range anxiety. Especially when considering the extra cost (and weight) involved in equipping a vehicle with two powertrains simultaneously. This argument could be supported by pointing out how the ratio of Range Extender versions of the BMW i3 has changed since the EV version was equipped with a larger battery pack, as well as by pointing out how the PHEV version is often the slowest selling version in case a model has several options, for example the Hyundai Ioniq, where the plug-in hybrid takes just 12,4% of total sales, compared to 30,8% for the EV while the remaining 56,8% of buyers have opted for the hybrid version. So it would be easy to see the 3% decline as the beginning of the end. However, then we’d be missing the big picture, as it seems like PHEVs are due for a comeback in the short term. You see, it’s all about the regulations.
The new WLTP standards for calculating fuel consumption and emissions that kicked in in 2018 have greatly affected sales of some top selling plug-in hybrid models, most notably those of Volkswagen Group, which stopped production of the Golf and Passat GTE and saw its most popular Porsche Panamera and Cayenne versions scrapped as well. These models will return in 2019 with larger batteries, which means a longer electric-only range and thus lower average emissions. The way these new standards have been set up, reduced the theoretic fuel efficiency and bumped them to above 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. All existing PHEV nameplates in the top-10 are up by at least 24% and the decline of the segment as a whole is due to the (temporary) discontinuation of popular models mentioned above. As soon as those models return in updated and upgraded versions, they will boost the segment again, so PHEV sales are still expected to surge just over 60% to 250.000 in 2019 and then more than double in 2020 to 550.000 units.
Mitsubishi was one of the first manufacturers to increse the battery capacity of its plug-in hybrid model and has succeeded in lowering the WLTP measured average emissions to below 50 g/km. As a result, the Outlander held on to its title of best selling plug-in hybrid in Europe with sales up nearly more than doubling to almost 10.000 in Q1, which is slmost 74% of all Outlanders sold in Europe, by far the highest take rate among PHEVs. While the best selling plug-in hybrid nameplate is from Mitsubishi, BMW is the best selling Plug-in hybrid brand thanks to no less than 7 PHEV models and Volvo is in third place with its four models.
Volvo takes 2nd place in the models ranking with the new XC60 T8 Twin Engine, up 44% in Q1 and a take rate of 22,1%, ahead of the Mini Countryman PHEV, up 87% wiht a take rate of 26,7%. BMW’s best selling PHEV is the 530e with sales up 56% and a take rate of 15,5%. The arrival of the Niro EV has not hurt sales of the already existing Niro PHEV, which is still up 44%, although its take rate is slightly below that of the EV, at 20,1% and 22,2% respectively, leaving 57,7% for the gasoline-powered Niro. The BMW 225xe Active Tourer improves its sales 24% and almost doubles its take rate to 20,2%. The Volvo XC90 T8 outsells the Range Rover Sport PHEV thanks to its higher take rate of 27,4% vs. 24% for the RR. The Volvo V60 T8 has just arrived and already takes 10% of total V60 sales, a figure that is expected to grow as the year progresses.
In 2019 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 Mercedes-Benz will bring updated plug-in versions of the C-, E- and S-Class. 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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