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Dutch BEV Sales Back On Growth Trajectory — 89% Growth

After the stagnation during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and the following supply chain problems, Dutch BEV sales are back on a growth trajectory. The annual end-of-year spike caused by the lowering of incentives of previous years was hardly present due to very small incentive adjustments. As a consequence, sales in the new year were more normal since there was no real overhang from a pull-forward effect in December.

In January 2023, we saw healthy growth of new fully electric car (BEV) registrations — 61% growth to 4,974 registrations. Meanwhile, vehicles with a tailpipe didn’t shrink for the first time in 5 years. It’s all a clear sign of the auto market recovering from its supply chain problems. The consensus expectation for this year, 340,000, is less optimistic than the 390,000 forecast of last year, but it’s a lot more realistic. Last year finished just over 312,000.

This February is even better. BEV registrations grew 89% to 6,892, reaching 24.5% market share. Tailpipe vehicles did experience their first growth in 5 years, by 11% to 21,236. Link & Co 01 became the #1 registered car in the Dutch market, with 1089 registrations. The Link & Co 01 is a PHEV with a claimed range of over 40 miles.

The overall #2 was the Opel Corsa, with 887 registrations. The Corsa-e accounted for about 15% of those registrations. The overall #3 was the Volvo XC40 PHEV + BEV, with the BEV version taking care of two-thirds of the sales.

On the pure electric side, it was noticeable that the Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin was in full production. The Model 3 units from China are still only delivered in the last month of the quarter, but the Model Y units from Brandenburg made the model #1 for the third month in a row. That is the advantage of local production and short logistics lines.

The Volvo XC40 was #2 for the second time. The Renault Megane reached the podium for the first time. Definitive numbers per model will take a few days to get published.

In 2019, the Model 3 conquered the Dutch market, with nearly 30,000 registration and close to 50% BEV market share. This was followed by the Dutch BEV market stalling a bit, with 61,000, 73,000, 64,000, and again 73,000 registrations in the years 2019–2022. Because of the bigger problems for tailpipe models, market share still grew slowly, but it was a frustrating period for EV enthusiasts. Each year, the growing popularity of BEVs was frustrated by the downward adjustment of incentives. With no changes in incentives for this year and next year, I dare to forecast sales of over 100,000 BEVs in 2023.

In these last few years, most BEV drivers were first-time users of fully electric cars. The low Benefit in Kind (BiK) tax was for many at least as important as, if not more important than, the environmental incentives. This year, many of those first-timers are due for a new company car. In a conversation with an employee of a large car importer, it was mentioned that many BEV drivers were turning back to tailpipe vehicles because the BiK taxation is lower on the cheaper gasmobiles.

The BiK taxation is relative to the list price of the car. Because the battery makes a BEV more expensive than a tailpipe vehicle of the same size and capacity, many carmakers give their BEVs more luxurious trims than comparable legacy models. Even the now-small incentive on the BiK taxation doesn’t make BEVs competitive for all company car drivers.

It is the drivers of company cars who have the freedom to choose their favourite car within the available budget. The only financial consequence for the driver is the BiK taxation. Most drivers cannot charge in their own driveway, making them dependent on public charging infrastructure. Even in the Dutch charging paradise, a quick visit to a gas station for an extra 600 miles can be preferable over visiting a curbside charger every 150 miles. Being forced to visit a fast charging station to reach home after a workday is nobody’s favourite activity.

Average battery size has been growing over the last year. A year ago, it was around 55 kWh. It is now over 60 kWh. Even in this densely populated country, with the best charging infrastructure in the world, the experience of drivers is that they need more range.

The Dutch dealer association is glad the market is recovering, up 24% YoY, but that is only 11% for their main historical business and 89% new business that they still have to learn about. They need to give a strong signal to their headquarters in Germany, France, and Asia that they need more affordable electric models with more range. Because therein lies their future.

When visiting dealers and importers, many people on the showroom floor still don’t see the electric models as serious products. The brands and dealers that can teach their salespeople the fastest that BEVs are the new reality are setting themselves up for success, though. Growth and profits are only secured by selling more BEVs than the competition. Otherwise, they will meet their “Kodak moment” — max sales and profits in the last year of their insolvency.

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Written By

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. At the end of 2019 I succeeded, I replaced my Twingo diesel for a Zoe fully electric. And putting my money where my mouth is, I have bought Tesla shares. Intend to keep them until I can trade them for a Tesla car. I added some Fastned, because driving without charging is no fun.


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