The electric vehicle revolution continues. Auto sales may be down overall, but almost anywhere you look, fossil vehicle sales are down much more than electric vehicle sales — and electric vehicle sales are even growing in many places.
Belgium is a pretty wild example. In March, overall auto sales were down a whopping 48%. Nonetheless, plug-in vehicle sales were up 39%! In the first quarter of the year, plug-in vehicle sales were up 91%. No rounding error.
The dramatic divergences in this auto market left Belgium with a nearly 9% plug-in vehicle (PEV) market share — 8.6% to be precise — according to the boys over at EV Volumes.
I have to admit, although I’m generally seen a quite optimistic or bullish on the electric vehicle revolution, I had pretty much no expectation of Belgium reaching 9% PEV market share this year. In February of 2019, PEVs had close to 3% market share (2.6% to be precise, a full 6 percentage points lower than the March 2020 tally).
Which models are driving PEV sales in Belgium? As you can see, the leader is the BMW X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid (PHEV) — not exactly the most efficient vehicle on the market, but much more efficient with the PHEV powertrain than without it! The BWW X5 eDrive took a hearty 10% of the PEV market in the first quarter of the year.
The second best selling plug-in was — in a highlight that will surprise no one — the Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 had 8% of the PEV market — and the majority of that came in the last month of the quarter, per usual. In fact, the Model 3 had more registrations in March than more than 4× the second best selling electric vehicle.
Belgians apparently like their luxurious BMW plug-in hybrids, as another one got onto the podium and won the bronze medal — the BMW 330e. It was closely followed by the ever popular Renault Zoe (only 3 units behind in 2020 so far), the Volvo XC40, the Volvo XC60, the Volvo S/XV60, and the BMW 530e (which is just 32 units behind its 330e sibling). All six of those models have a PEV market share of 3%. It’s anyone’s guess who grabs the bronze in 2020, and the top two models are in a tight race, but there’s certainly a gigantic gap between those top two models and the rest of the market.
Perhaps most interesting when it comes to March is that Tesla vehicles took three of the top four spots on the list, with the Model X at #3 and the Model S at #4. However, as is well known, Tesla’s deliveries come in waves with the bulk of the wave crashing down on Europe at the end of the quarter, so it really does make more sense to stick to quarterly figures.
There is no doubt that the Belgian market is weird, though. Not only did all three Tesla models make the top 20 in the first quarter, but that was amidst a heavy imbalance in favor of plug-in hybrids rather than fully electric vehicles. Additionally, whereas Hyundai and Kia plug-in models like the Hyundai Kona EV and Kia Niro EV are very popular across Europe, the South Korean tag team couldn’t even get a single model in the top 20 in the first quarter. As José Pontes of EV Volumes (and CleanTechnica) commented, “Weird….”
Overall, the PEV market share in the first quarter of the year was 6.3%, nearly double the 3.2% of all of 2019, according to EV Volumes. Despite Tesla’s impressive showing in the political powerhouse, BMW was actually the top selling brand when it comes to plug-ins. BMW had 21% of the market in the first quarter, whereas Tesla had 14% and Volvo 11%. The political elites sure do love their luxury vehicles. Though, when it comes to electrics, Mercedes and Audi have a lot of catching up to do compared BMW’s plug-in hybrid family and the Tesla Model 3.
I didn’t anticipate doing PEV sales reports on Belgium this year, focusing instead on electric leaders like Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and a few others, but the new record market share has put yet another European nation on the map when it comes to PEV sales tracking.
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