Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Grew 50% In 1st Half Of 2016

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A total of around 312,000 plug-in electric vehicles were sold worldwide during the first half of 2016, a roughly 49% year-on-year increase (as compared to the first half of 2015), according to sales figures collected and estimated for the time period by sales analysts and consultants at EV Volumes.


This compares to an overall, worldwide auto market year-on-year sales increase of around 5% (35 million cars + 12 million trucks). What that means is that the plug-in sector is growing roughly 10 times faster than the overall auto market. (Note: these figures include light-commercial vehicle sales as well.)

As it stands, though, the plug-in market still only represents less than 1% of the overall market.

Importantly, much of the recent growth is down solely to the rapid growth of the Chinese plug-in market (~128% year-on-year increase so far in 2016) — which is easily understandable when considering the strong push towards the technology that authorities there are making (incentives, manufacturing, laws, etc.). It seems fairly likely that China will account for roughly 50% of the worldwide market by 2017.



While growth is still comparatively anemic in the US market, things have improved as compared to 2015 — with an ~18% year-on-year increase for the first half of 2016. Sales growth during June and July was particularly high in the US (around 50% higher than in 2015). This was mainly down to strong sales with regard to Tesla, the Chevy Volt, and Ford.

Sales growth in the European market was slightly better (~21% year-on-year); as it was in Japan (~28%).


With regard to the split between all-electrics (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), things have been pretty stable on the global level, with no major changes (as the graph above shows).

On the subject of manufacturer sales rankings, EV Volumes provides more: “BYD is the leading make for plug-in vehicles in China. With high volume sales of their 2 PHEVs (Qin, Tang) and 3 EVs (e5, e6, Denza), BYD reached 61,700 sales in 2015, making it the world’s largest OEM for plug-in passenger cars & SUVs. With China being the fastest growing market for plug-ins, BYDs #1 position is affirmed by a wider margin in 2016.”



Continuing: “At the end of 2015, the VW Group including Audi and Porsche was on rank #2 with 59,400 sales, Nissan was #3, Tesla #4, Mitsubishi #5. The changes at the top for 2016 are quite considerable with, for example, VW losing 2 spots vs 2015. Their otherwise leading China operations still struggle to localize plug-in models. Mitsubishi slipped to #6 with aging models and the still pending US intro of the Outlander. Tesla, Nissan and BMW advanced 1 rank. It has to be pointed out that very few makes (Zotye and Fiat) actually lost volume, compared to 2015 H1. All others increased volume, but in a fast growing market, growing slower means loosing share. The +/- % values vs 2015 show the share gains and losses for 2016 H1 compared to 2015 H1.”

In other words, BYD (and others, especially in China) are growing fast enough that they’re stealing market share despite strong growth by others (Tesla, VW, BMW, etc.).

The story with regard to specific models is similar, with sales of the BYD Tang PHEV exploding this year. Of course, overall sales are still below those of the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S. Though, possibly not for long.

Indications are that, overall, global plug-in sales for 2016 will total somewhere around 850,000 units, making for a ~57% growth-rate over 2015 and an overall auto market share of ~0.9%.

Also, notably, global plug-in sales to date are likely to hit the 2 million milestone by the end of the year.

All charts by EV Volumes

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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