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Published on January 1st, 2019 | by Jose Pontes

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Let The Fully Electric Flood Begin! — #Europe EV Sales Report

January 1st, 2019 by  


After a couple of slow performances in previous months, in November, the European passenger plug-in market was back at cruising speed, with +31% year over year (YoY) sales. There were some 37,500 registrations, pulling the year-to-date (YTD) count to 345,000 deliveries (+34%). In broader context, 2018 EV market share grew to 2.4%, thanks to a 3.2% market share in November.

But if on the surface everything seems to be back to normal, when you separate the fully electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains, there are seismic changes. On the BEV side, sales (or I should say deliveries) jumped 96% YoY, the segment’s highest growth rate since July ’14. Fully electrics reached a record 23,000 registrations (61% share of all plug-ins), allowing them to (finally!) surpass PHEVs in the total year breakdown. This is the first that has happened since 2014. Historic month, indeed!

On the other hand, PHEVs continue feeling the sting of the new WLTP standard, with sales down (-14% in November) for the third month in a row, the segment’s worst downward trend since … well, forever. Will PHEVs in Europe recover sometime in the future, or are they going to be swallowed by the upcoming BEV flood?

One thing is certain, BEVs start 2019 with the upper hand.

But the PHEV debacle isn’t equal across all brands. Some automakers (BMW, Mitsubishi, Volvo…) did their homework and continue to thrive under the new rules, leading to some brilliant performances. In particular, the #3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is soaring again.

In November, the top spots didn’t have major surprises since sales were high across the board. Three of the top 5 best sellers last month hit record performances (the i3, e-Golf, and Zoe), while the Outlander PHEV had its best month since 2015. The leader, Nissan Leaf, didn’t have a memorable score simply because Leaf output in the Sunderland factory is limited by the weight of the Qashqai production there. Maybe Nissan should think about sending units from the US to Europe?

Monthly Model Ranking

#1 Renault Zoe — Record 5,154 deliveries meant a 175% jump YoY for the French hatchback. This surprising score is the result of LG providing more batteries to the French carmaker, thanks to the ramp up of its European factory in Poland. Without the battery bottleneck, we should finally see the real demand for the Zoe. Regarding individual market performances, the domestic market did the usual heavy lifting, by registering 1,895 units (+144% YoY), with other significant numbers coming from Germany (1,047 units, a new record), Norway (464, a new record), and Portugal (279 units … guess what — also a new record). So, the Zoe is one of the hottest EVs right now.

#2 Nissan Leaf — Despite being surpassed in November by its French cousin (the Renault Zoe), the Nissan Leaf, still Europe’s best selling EV in 2018, continues to expand its sales. It had 4,640 registrations in November, the third month in a row that the Japanese hatchback hit a 4,000+ performance. With the order list still a couple of months away from being satisfied, expect the Leaf to end the year as the best selling EV in Europe, recovering a title that last won in 2013.

But back to last month’s performance, the main market by far was Norway (1,209 deliveries), but the Japanese hatchback actually hit three-digit performances in 12(!) other countries. Besides the usual suspects (France, Netherlands, Germany, UK…), the BEV saw high scores in countries like Sweden (388 units, a new record), Belgium (235, a new record), and Spain (182 units, and … yes, that’s a new record).

#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — Europe’s favorite family/towing/winter plug-in continues to profit from its technical update, with the Japanese SUV securing yet another Best-Selling PHEV of the Month award and a podium presence in October. It had 3,160 registrations, up 77%, the nameplate’s highest score since 2015. The plug-in SUV will continue to offer its unique mix of “affordable” space, AWD, and utility, with the added bonus of a larger electric range (28 mi/45 km real-world range) and more power (+15 hp) at hand, keeping it popular in markets like the UK, Norway, and Sweden. Going forward, with the end of the PHEV incentives in the UK, a market that represents one third of sales, it will be interesting to see where Mitsubishi will find other markets to compensate the UK losses. With a record 386 units registered last month in Germany, I think Mitsu might have found the answer.

#4 VW e-Golf — It seems the German hatchback is cured from its not-enough-batteries disease, just in time to save VW from its PHEV extinction and giving it a top 5 presence. The e-Golf had 3,044 registrations, the nameplate’s second record in a row. And to think the model is less than a year away from being replaced…Looking at individual countries, Norway (886 units) and Germany (858 units, a new record) were major contributors, with the Netherlands (358) and Austria (318) also helping significantly. Looking ahead, expect deliveries to continue strong in the next few months (I mean, with PHEVs offline, VW doesn’t have anything else to make, right?). The e-Golf should go strong until VW finally decides to place it in sunset mode in the second half of 2019, as it prepares the ID/Neo launch.

#5 BMW i3 — In a transitional month, with the start of the new 42 kWh i3 deliveries, the German hot hatch’s sales hit a record month, with 2,443 units being delivered. With the Leipzig factory growing in output, the BMW EV is set to continue breaking records throughout 2019. Looking at last month’s individual country performances, Norway was the largest market for the i3, with 714 registrations (its best month since 2016), and its home base of Germany was second (432 units, 360 of them BEV).

Fully Electric Cars on the Rise

Looking at the 2018 ranking, the top positions remained stable. In fact, we have to go to #7 to see position changes, with the Volvo XC60 PHEV (1,498 units) and BMW 530e (1,464) climbing to #7 and #8, respectively.

Elsewhere, another model from the BMW Group continues to jump positions — the Mini Countryman PHEV reached #12 — while three BEVs are shining in the second half of the table. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric beat its personal best for the second month in a row, with 1,115 deliveries, while the Smart Fortwo ED climbed to #16, and even the runout-mode Kia Soul EV was up to #19.

Outside the top 20, the Jaguar Land Rover team had a great month, with the Jaguar I-PACE scoring another record month (1,260 units) while the Range Rover/Range Rover Sport PHEVs together registered some 1,200 units.

Intriguingly, the Hyundai Kona EV still hasn’t made the expected deliveries jump, with only 620 units being delivered in November … which is strange, given the recent deliveries uptick of the Ionic Electric.  

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, 2017 winner BMW (15%, down 1%) is in the lead, while runner-up Volkswagen (12%, down 1%) is watching #3 Nissan (12%) getting closer. Renault (10%, up 1%) is in fourth, ahead of Tesla and Volvo, both with 7%.

Rank Europe November YTD PEV Market Share YTD
1 Nissan Leaf 4,640 38,573 11%
2 Renault Zoe 5,154 33,302 10%
3 BMW i3 2,443 21,828 6%
4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 3,160 20,658 6%
5 VW e-Golf 3,044 19,050 6%
6 Tesla Model S 1,131 13,683 4%
7 Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV 1,498 12,152 4%
8 BMW 530e 1,464 11,401 3%
9 VW Passat GTE 206 11,297 3%
10 BMW 225xe Active Tourer 1,339 11,237 3%
11 Tesla Model X 872 10,250 3%
12 Mini Countryman PHEV 1,095 9,282 3%
13 VW Golf GTE 152 9,060 3%
14 Kia Niro PHEV 676 8,942 3%
15 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 1,115 8,768 3%
16 Smart Fortwo ED 697 7,762 2%
17 BMW 330e 95 7,262 2%
18 Mercedes GLC350e 97 6,988 2%
19 Kia Soul EV 496 6,125 2%
20 Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV 675 5,988 2%
+ Others 8,217 77,692 22%
ALL TOTAL 37,591 345,312 100%

 
 





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About the Author

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewing the sales evolution of plug-ins through the EV Sales blog since 2012, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is now a partner in EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.



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