Plug-in vehicle (PEV) sales are as hot as a summer afternoon in Lisbon, with 1,263 plug-ins being registered in June. That’s a 5% PEV share of the overall auto market and up 75% year over year (YoY). It’s just 20 units behind the all-time record (1,283 units), which was registered last March.
This kind of performances, added to the decline of the overall auto market (–4% YoY), allowed the 2019 PEV share to reach 4.7%, with this year’s count (5,988 units) being significantly higher (+58% YoY) than last year’s result by this time.
And the result would be even better if plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) weren’t losing steam. Their growth last month was limited to just 10% YoY, which pales next to the fully electric vehicle (BEV) growth (+135%). All-electric models represented 64% of all plug-in sales in the first half of the year and 70% in June. In all of 2018, their share was 54%. This is BEVs’ best result since 2014.
These great performances of BEVs in Portugal owe thanks to one name: Tesla.
Last month, the Californian brand delivered a record 432 units, representing one third of all plug-in registrations. Both the Model S (92 units) and the Model X (65 units) scored record results, while the Model 3 stayed just 40 units behind its record, set last March (315 units), so it could hardly have been a better month for the brand.
The Nissan Leaf remained in #1, but for how long? It was followed by the hot Tesla Model 3, the #3 Renault Zoe, which also impressed, scoring 145 registrations, its best result in 2019. The Zoe’s performance is an amazing result considering the revised Zoe is right around the corner.
Below the podium, the first position changes happened in #7 and #8, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Jaguar I-PACE climbing one position each. The BMW 225xe Active Tourer registered 50 units last month, allowing it to also go up one position, to #11.
Interestingly, high-end plug-ins are experiencing surging sales, with both the #13 Tesla Model S and #15 Model X jumping positions and even the Porsche Panamera PHEV up one position, to #18.
It seems plug-ins are trendy among the wealthiest in Portugal…
We have a new face in the top 20 as well, with the new generation Volvo V60 PHEV reaching #20.
Interestingly, there is not one Volkswagen in the top 20, and the only VW Group nameplate present is the Porsche Panamera PHEV, in #18.
In the manufacturer ranking, there’s a new #1, with Tesla now leading the way (21%), while Nissan (17%) tries to keep #3 BMW (14%) at bay.
Outside the medal positions, Renault (9%) is the only automaker close enough to bother the podium bearers.
Tesla Model 3 & The ICE Competition
|2||Tesla Model 3||853|
|3||BMW 3 Series||795|
|4||BMW 4 Series||722|
Comparing Model 3 deliveries against its midsize premium-class competitors, we can see that the Tesla midziser is making important inroads in a usually conservative (and German-loving) category, with the Model 3 already hitting the runner-up place.
With the leader, Mercedes C-Class, just 285 units ahead, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch if the Tesla started to pressure it by the end of the 3rd quarter.
Interestingly, Audi A4 sales are simply being decimated, with the German midsize model now just #7, behind the successful Peugeot 508 and the #6 Volvo S/V60 twins.
Hear the alarm sound, Audi?
Tesla Model S & The ICE Competition
|1||BMW 5 Series||943|
|4||Tesla Model S||170|
Comparing the Model S against its premium-class competitors, we can see that the first two are profiting from the success of their subsidy-friendly PHEV versions, with approximately 40% of their sales coming from their plug-in versions.
The Volvo S/V90 twins are a distant third place, and with the Swedes only 7 units ahead of a re-energized Model S, expect the Tesla flagship to reach the podium during the summer.
In 5th we have the Audi A6, miles behind its German rivals, which makes us wonder why. … Oh, right! The big Audi doesn’t have a plug-in version.
Tesla Model X & The ICE Competition
|1||Range Rover Sport||141|
|2||Tesla Model X||120|
Comparing Model X deliveries against its premium competitors, we can see that the Tesla is close to the top position, with the Range Rover Sport benefitting from its PHEV version (74% of all the model’s sales) and slightly outrunning the Model X at the moment.
Will the Tesla Sports-Minivan-SUV be able to reach the leadership position soon? Say … in September?
The Infrastructure Conundrum: How the lack of a good infrastructure might delay EV adoption in Portugal.
While plug-in vehicle adoption seems to be going at full charge in Portugal, with the current 5% plug-in share allowing it to be one of the top 10 countries globally, the fact is that not everything is perfect. In fact, there is one important factor in EV adoption that is far, far, FAR from being positive.
And that is charging infrastructure. (You might have guessed it from the subheading.)
While plug-ins have been growing at a fast pace in recent years (+58% YoY in 2019), the local infrastructure has been consistently growing at snail’s pace (+2%).
So, you can imagine where this is going, right?
According to EAFO, together with France, Portugal is the EU country with the highest number of BEVs per charging point (8), but it won’t be long until Portugal becomes the sole leader, because in France EV adoption is growing at half the pace of Portugal. Another important point is that France’s charging infrastructure is growing at a 5% rate … twice as fast as in Portugal!
So, why this apparent dissonance between plug-in sales and charging infrastructure?
Of the three big charging operators, the passive attitude of GALP and PRIO are understandable, because they run their businesses selling fossil fuels, with charging stations being 0,00…01% of their business. So, it is natural that both companies do not bother expanding their network, as such a network would ultimately compete with their regular business.
As for the 3rd operator, local utility EDP, it is beyond me why it is not increasing the number of charging stations all over the country, as that would be a big new source of profit for them. As previously mentioned, demand is there, namely in big cities and especially in Lisbon and Porto, where ride-hailing companies (e.g., Uber) are fast electrifying their fleets. That means there are always professional drivers using the local fast chargers, flooding them day and night.
That is why the average waiting time at those (single) 50 kW fast chargers is around 1 hour.
I have wondered at length why EDP isn’t expanding its network, and the only reasonable explanation I find is that it is waiting to receive some kind of government subsidy to build them. In other countries, the local operators receive or received grants to implement the local infrastructure, but these subsidies were made with the intent to promote the infrastructure in places where it wasn’t yet commercially viable.
And in Portugal we are already well beyond that point, maybe in some places (the northeast, for example) subsidies still make sense, because the PEV fleet is still too small to feed a decent charging infrastructure, but in the most developed areas of the country, there are enough vehicles to feed a large expansion of the network, so they just need to get off their subsidy addiction and start erecting the damn things!
IONITY would surely be welcome here. Currently, in Portugal, the only functional, available, and 100% reliable charging network is Tesla’s Supercharger network. The rest are sparsely distributed and increasingly unreliable (heavy use and poor maintenance lead to frequent downtimes), with laughable charging rates in many cases (3,7 kW charging stations are still common). To be honest, +50 kW charging rates still seem like science fiction here.
All of this is creating “charging anxiety,” as people always fear that a given charging station might be either down or they will need to wait forever in a queue.
This is starting to dampen demand, especially as we enter the mainstream market. People hear horror stories about the charging infrastructure and think, “Well, I would like to buy an EV, but then when I would go off to holidays in Algarve, I’ll risk waiting for over an hour to charge — or worse, being stranded on the road because the fast charger could be down.”
Maybe one explanation for the large share of Teslas in this market is precisely that — if you want an EV that can run around the country without worrying about recharging issues (and let’s not even mention Spain, because things are even worse there…), then there’s really only one option: Tesla.
If the regulatory authorities continue to behave passively, then the lack of decent charging infrastructure will delay transport electrification in Portugal. So, instead of subsidies, what can regulatory authorities do?