EV and PHEV sales in Europe continue to break records in 2019 with a 38% increase to nearly 383.000 sales of plug-in vehicles in the first three quarters of the year, of which more than 257.500 full electric cars and over 125.000 plug-in hybrid cars. Sales of the former almost doubled at +93% while PHEV sales were actually down at -13%. The latter is a result of the new WLTP fuel efficiency cycle and new, tougher government incentive requirements in some countries, which PHEVs only qualify if they have an electric range of at least 50km. If in 2018 battery electric cars outsold PHEVs for the first time, in the first three quarters of 2019 more than twice as many EVs were delivered than plug-in hybrids. Plug-in vehicles accounted for 3,2% of the European car market, up from 2,2% in the full year 2018.
Tesla Model 3 ultra dominant with a share of more than 25% of all EV sales in Europe. The brand is aiming for between 75.000 and 100.000 deliveries of the Model 3 this year, and that is a very attainable goal with 65.000 deliveries after three quarters.
The new generation Renault Zoe didn’t arrive in showrooms until the last quarter, but sales of the outgoing model still continued to improve, with sales up 34% to already match the 2018 full-year figure, which means it will set another sales record this year, as it has done every year since launch. Depending on the roll-out of the new generation, the Zoe could hit 50k deliveries this year.
The Nissan Leaf is one of the few EV models to lose sales this year, and that’s despite the addition of a longer range version, as the price premium for that version is quite steep. The model is already starting to look outdated next to upcoming rivals like the VW ID3.
Meanwhile, the e-Golf is in sell-out mode before the new generation Golf arrives in showrooms. Sales are up 70% and the take rate has nearly doubled to over 7% of all Golfs sold in Europe.
The BMW i3 shows a similar improvement, although we’re estimating the take rate of the version with the range extender, as BMW doesn’t publish these figures themselves. In total, i3 sales are up 37%.
The Hyundai Kona EV has a take rate of 21,8%, not bad and they probably could have sold more if they had enough batteries. The Kona already sells double the volume of its sister model Kia Niro EV, which has a take rate of 18,2%, but the Niro is also available as a PHEV as you’ll see below, giving the model a take rate of 38% for its electrified versions as the remaining 62% are regular hybrids. The Hyundai Ioniq, which has a similar 3-version line-up, has a higher take rate of 26,8% for the EV (which is a stable figure on last year), but the PHEV is less in demand with a take rate of just 14%, leaving 59,2% for the regular hybrid.
The Audi e-Tron is doing very well, already outselling the Jaguar I-Pace and doubling the sales of the Tesla Model S, down 48% as the Model 3 is stealing all the attention (and customers). The Model X is down 29% on the Model 3 and e-Tron effect.
The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive has a take rate of 13,3%, similar to last year, which does not bode well for the brand’s strategy to go EV-only.
In the last quarter of 2019 and in 2020, 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: Audi Q4 e-Tron, DS3 Crossback e-tense, Honda e, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Mini e, MG ZS EV, Peugeot e-2008, e-208 and Opel/Vauxhall Corsa e, Porsche Taycan and Volvo XC40 EV.
2019 Q1-Q3 EV sales Europe
Electric Car Segment
Tesla Model 3
BMW i3 (est.)
Hyundai Kona EV
Kia Niro EV
Tesla Model S
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Tesla Model X
Hyundai Nexo FCEV
Plug-in Hybrid electric cars
PHEV sales have taken a big hit in 2019 with double digit declines. As mentioned above, this is a result of government regulations becoming stricter. The way these new standards have been set up, reduced the theoretic fuel efficiency and bumped most first-generation PHEVs 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. 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 in the upcoming months, which will start a comeback of the plug-in hybrid vehicle.
The new WLTP standards for calculating fuel consumption and emissions that kicked in in 2018 have greatly affected sales of some formerly 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 late 2019 and 2020 with larger batteries, which means a longer electric-only range and thus lower average emissions.
The Mitsubishi Outlander has not only held on to its title of top selling PHEV in Europe, it has consolidated its position with an 80% increase in delveries, now selling 2,5 times the volume of its nearest rival. It has a take rate of 74,1%, up over 20 percentage points on last year. Mitsubishi was one of the first to update its model with a larger battery pack to give it a longer EV-only range.
The Mini Countryman PHEV jumps to 2nd place with a gain of 58% on last year, and a take rate of 27,1%, while the technically almost identical BMW 225xe Active Tourer takes third place with a take rate of 21,3%.
That leaves last year’s runner up Volvo XC60 Twin Engine in fourth place, as its sales are up just 5% on last year. Its take rate is virtually stable on last year, at 16,9%.
The BMW 530e stays ahead of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class 300e and 300de, thanks to double the take rate, but that’s also because the E-Class PHEV models arrived later, as their take rate was even higher than the BMW’s in September.
The Range Rover Sport PHEV has arrived in 2019 and immediately outsells the Volvo XC90 T8 and BMW X5 40e, while others in its class are due to be relaunched, like the Porsche Cayenne and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
In the last quarter of 2019 and in 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- 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.
2019 Q1-Q3 PHEV sales Europe
% PHEV 2019
% PHEV 2018
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mini Countryman PHEV
BMW 225xe Active Tourer
Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV
Kia Niro PHEV
BMW i3 (est.)
Range Rover Sport PHEV
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
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