The German auto market is nearly back to normal, down just 5% in July, but the local plugin electric vehicle market is far beyond that — it’s red hot right now. Plugin vehicles (fully electric vehicles as well as plugin hybrids) scored an amazing 36,000 registrations in July, which not only a new record, but is 85% above the last record, made last March.
And if while fully electric vehicles (BEVs) were up 182% year over year (YoY) last month, to almost 17,000 units, PHEV registrations went though the roof, up 485%(!), to some 19,000 units. That means that plugins as a whole jumped an amazing 302%(!) last month, with the plugin vehicle share reaching an amazing 11% (5.3% BEV). The 2020 tally was thus pulled to 8.5% (4% BEV).
The German plugin market started the second half of the year on fire thanks in part to strong new electric vehicle incentives, with a record month in the usually slow July. Without a doubt, more record months to come (ahem, September), and we may have already reached the “tipping point” in Germany, at which disruption is visible and the status quo is changed forever. We could see this market reach 10% plugin share already this year, which would mean 2021 would see this market surf the steepest part of the S-curve during that whole year.
After years of asking “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”, we can finally say that, yes, we have arrived, so let’s sit back and enjoy the disruption show unfold before our eyes.
Regarding last month’s best sellers, in July the Renault Zoe was once again the best selling plugin vehicle, with a record 2,851 registrations, while the VW e-Golf’s success streak continued. (Or is it Volkswagen self-registrations?!? Hmmm … discuss.) The e-Golf appears oblivious to the imminent large volume landing of the Volkswagen ID.3 (which had an initial trickle of 104 units in July), with the veteran hatchback scoring a record(!) result of 2,633 registrations in July, a truly surprising and outstanding result.
Speaking of outstanding performances, below the two top sellers, we have three models that, each in its own way, had outstanding results in July:
- The #3 Mercedes A250e scored 1,925 deliveries, which was the best monthly result ever by a Mercedes model. With a usable electric range (65 km/40 mi WLTP range), competitive pricing (starts below 40,000€) and even fast charging(!), expect the compact Mercedes plugin hybrid to become a familiar face in this top 5.
- In #4 we have the Ford Kuga PHEV, which scored yet another record performance, with 1,691 registrations, with Ford betting heavily on the compact SUV to comply with the 95 g/km CO2 rules — so much so that the Dearborn automaker is already offering extra 5,000€ discounts on its plugin hybrid. Added to a usable 56 km/35 mi WLTP range, those 5,000€ discounts make the Kuga PHEV an incredible value for money. As the year ends, expect Ford to offer deeper discounts of its only plugin model. We could see this model more often here.
- Throughout its career, the Hyundai Kona EV suffered from chronic production/battery constraints, but with Czech production now at full speed, the production gates have opened and a flood of units arrived in Germany. By registering an amazing 1,688 units last month, the Kona EV thrashed its previous record (441 units, set last August). Although, now the question is: Will Hyundai be able to keep this level of demand in the foreseeable future?
Regarding the 2020 table, there’s plenty to talk about. On the podium, the #2 Renault Zoe is now just 36 units behind the leader, the VW e-Golf, while the VW Passat GTE jumped to 3rd, displacing the Tesla Model 3, which was starved of fresh units in July.
Looking at August, the Renault Zoe should reach the top spot, while the VW midsizer will try to defend (and maybe increase its lead) over the Tesla Model 3, but expect the Californian to return big time in Super September. …
And why will September be Super? Well, a certain VW ID.3 lands, delivering some 6,000 units (wild guess) at once, landing immediately on the podium and possibly even kicking the Renault Zoe off of the throne in December. And speaking of the Zoe, the French EV should register some 2,500 units in September, at least, all while the Tesla Model 3 will benefit from an unconstrained end-of-quarter peak and deliver some 2,500 units.
So, from just three EVs, perhaps 11,000 registrations. Add the rest of the market, with, say, 30,000 units, and you get 41,000 units, not only a new record, but also reaching some 13% plugin share!
The PHEV race also saw big changes, with the VW Passat GTE (1,431 units, a new record) becoming the new category leader, followed by the evergreen Audi A3 PHEV (1,056 units, a new record!), while the previous leader, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, took a tumble, despite registering 597 units … because in these disruptive times, with everyone pushing their limits (13 models in this top 20 hit record performances in July!), if one has just an OK performance, they will surely be surpassed.
Looking at other position changes, the little VW e-Up jumped three spots, to #6, thanks to a record 1,344 units, making that four Volkswagen Group models in the top 6. The Hyundai Kona EV was up to #11, and the Ford Kuga PHEV jumped 5 positions, to #14, and should climb higher in the coming months. But the Climber of the Month was the Mercedes A250e, which shot from #20 to #12, highlighting a record month for Mercedes and Daimler AG, which had 6 models hitting record performances (A250e — 1,965 units; C300e/de — 942; GLC300e — 619; EQC — 295; Smart Fortwo EV — 1,209; Smart Forfour EV — 596).
But Daimler, as already noted, wasn’t the only company having record performances across its lineup. The Hyundai–Kia lineup also shined, with 5 record performances (Hyundai Kona EV — 1,688 units; Hyundai Ioniq Electric — 426; Kia Ceed PHEV — 603; Kia Niro EV — 613; Kia Niro PHEV — 347). And the most impressive of all was Volkswagen Group. With the giant awakened, the German conglomerate had 8 models hitting record scores (VW e-Golf — 2,633 units; VW Passat GTE — 1,431; VW e-Up — 1,344; Audi A3 PHEV — 1,056; Skoda Citigo EV — 650; Skoda Superb PHEV — 609; Audi A6 PHEV — 472; Porsche Taycan — 346). Now, about those who say that Volkswagen EV efforts are just smokescreens….
Outside the top 20, a reference is also due for the record 792 units of the BMW X1 PHEV and the 687 deliveries of the Mini Cooper EV. Meanwhile, the progress of Volvo Cars in this market (a record 397 units for the XC60 PHEV and 383 for the XC40 PHEV) is noteworthy but seems puny next to the numbers reported above.
As plugins merge with mainstream trends, expect more events like this to occur, with brands big in the plugin niche continue growing but at a slower pace compared to the big boys.
In the brand ranking, Volkswagen (16%) leads the way and Audi (10%, down 1 percentage point) is the runner-up, meaning Volkswagen Group holds both gold and silver. Mercedes (11%, up 1 point) surpassed BMW (8%, down 1 point) and became the new bronze medalist, while #5 Renault (8%) is already breathing on BMW’s neck.
Will the French automaker be able to surpass BMW on its own soil? Oh, the ignominy that would be for the Bavarians….
On a final note, Volkswagen Group’s total share is now of 32% (VW — 16%; Audi — 10%, Skoda — 4%; Porsche — 2%), well above the 14% of Daimler or the 12% of the Renault–Nissan Alliance. Here also, as plugins merge with the mainstream, they are startinig to absorb the trends and tastes of the mainstream market.