The European passenger plug-in vehicle (PEV) market scored a near-record 75,000 registrations in December (+121%!), this being the first time since 2015 that the European PEV market scored a three-digit growth rate, with plug-in hybrids/PHEVs growing faster (+174% year over year, or YoY) than fully electric vehicles/BEVs (+89%), with the powertrain breakdown becoming more balanced between both. Although, BEVs still have the upper hand (52% BEVs / 48% PHEVs vs. 64% / 36% in 2019).
January’s brilliant sales result, combined with a falling overall market (-7% YoY), allowed the 2020 plug-in vehicle share to start at a record 6.6% (3.5% for BEVs alone), almost doubling the final 2019 PEV share (3.6%).
Will the plug-in share touch the 10% milestone this year? Now, that would be fun, wouldn’t it? Please place your bets.
In January, several models profited from the start of the 2020 CO2 accounting system to score record results, and none did it more spectacularly than the Renault Zoe, with the French hatchback scoring close to 10,000 registrations, a spectacular opening salvo for 2020.
But the Renault EV will face some stiff competition this year, and the fiercest of them all is the Peugeot 208 EV, which jumped immediately to #2 in its first full month on the market, with an impressive 3,897 registrations. But PSA’s EV deployment didn’t end there, with 3 other models landing immediately in the top 20 as well, as we had the crossover Peugeot 3008 PHEV in 6th, the (most beautiful) midsize Peugeot 508 PHEV in #15, and the Opel Grandland X PHEV crossover in #18.
So, PSA, which had never ever registered over 1,000 plug-in vehicles in one month, all of a sudden scores over 12,000 units in January alone.
And the Opel Corsa EV and Peugeot 2008 EV are still in ramp-up mode…
Another impressive performance is of the veteran Volkswagen e-Golf, 3rd last month with a record 3,296 registrations, with Volkswagen milking it to the extreme (as in, heavy discounting). The German hatchback is having a second life, as if the old geezer was saying: “ID-who? Never heard of it!”
Interestingly, the EV podium — with the #1 Zoe, #2 208, and #3 e-Golf standing tall — is starting to resemble the overall market. In 2019, the best selling car in Europe was the Volkswagen Golf, followed by the Renault Clio (fossil fuel equivalent to the Zoe) in #2, while the Peugeot 208 was #6.
As plug-ins make inroads into the mainstream market in Europe (and more models are available as plug-ins), it starts to become natural that mainstream buyer tastes start to influence the EV table, with this last ranking starting to look a lot more like the overall market.
Looking at the monthly model ranking:
#1 Renault Zoe — The 9,782 registrations of January meant tripling sales and the French hatchback’s best result ever, meaning that the production ramp up of the revised version is rolling and ready to satisfy whatever demand there is. Also, it is ready to start 2020 on a full charge — it has already opened a significant distance over the competition, something that might prove useful further along the year. Back to January, France pulled the usual heavy lifting, with over 5,000 units, a new record, but it wasn’t the only record score. In Germany, the Zoe also had a four-digit score, with 1,798 units, while Norway (533 units) and Southern Europe (410 units in Italy, 397 in Spain, 230 in Portugal) also helped the Zoe’s outstanding result.
#2 Peugeot 208 EV — Apparently, the production ramp up of the French hatchback is doing fine, as the striking model hit 3,897 registrations last month, winning its first monthly podium seat. That highlights the fact that the 208 EV has good growth prospects for 2020, especially considering that its career is barely starting now, with a number of markets still without any registrations. While its home market (2,537 units) pulled out the heavy lifting, it wasn’t just France doing all the hard work, as the UK (400 units), Italy (318), and Spain (231) also helped the Peugeot EV to reach the runner-up spot.
#3 Volkswagen e-Golf — The evergreen German model hit a record 3,296 registrations last month, up 95%(!) YoY, which is an amazing result for a model that is supposed to be in sunset mode for months now and has its successor now ramping up production in Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory. It seems VW is going all in on plug-ins (well, with the CO2 rules now in place, it has to), milking everything it can from its current best selling electric model. Regarding January performances, the Volkswagen EV’s main markets were Germany (1,120), the Netherlands (304), Norway (497), and the UK (600).
#4 Nissan Leaf — The Japanese hatchback was up 17% in January (yay!!!), to 3,177 registrations, with the Nissan EV winning a bit of charge and keeping up with the best, mostly thanks to promotions (as in, discounts) in a few markets. Looking at individual countries, the UK (900 units) was its largest market, followed by Norway (366), France (360), and Ireland (296).
#5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — The Japanese SUV was up 11% last month, to 3,149 registrations, with the Mitsubishi workhorse benefitting from its unique formula (lots of utility and space, for not that much money) to continue running with the best, even following the EV bubble’s growth. Looking at individual countries, Germany (868 units) and the UK (600) were its largest markets, with the following being Sweden (427) and Norway (303).
Looking at the remaining ranking, besides the thunderous arrival of the PSA team, we should also notice the 10th spot of the new BMW X5 PHEV, with a record 1,974 units, proving that big batteries also help plug-in hybrids to increase sales. Two other plug-in hybrids also shined, with the #11 VW Passat GTE scoring its best result since 2016 (1,890 units) while the #12 Volvo XC60 PHEV registered a record 1,761 units.
In the BEV field, there were a couple of significant developments, with the BMW i3 dropping to #13, having seen its sales drop 22% YoY (are the first wrinkles starting to show?), while the #16 Kia Niro EV registered its best score in 10 months, with 1,310 units. Although, I keep finding the Niro EV numbers to be an underwhelming performance, considering the success of its cousin, the #9 Hyundai Kona EV.
Outside the top 20, we have a few surprises, like the Audi Q5 PHEV (1,162 units), the Skoda Citigo EV (1,097), Volkswagen e-Up (916), and Seat e-Mii EV (553) triplets — which counted together would be #6 in the table — while both DS models, the 3 Crossback and 7 Crossback, scored around 1,000 units each.
In the manufacturer ranking, Renault (13%), BMW (12%), and Peugeot (10%) are all running for the leadership, while Volkswagen (8%) is looking for a chance to join the podium.