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Global EV Sales for the 1st Half of 2019

by Roland Irle, EV-volumes

Global plug-in vehicle deliveries reached 1 134 000 units in the 1st half of 2019, 46 % higher than for 2018. In terms of volumes, the increase was 358 000 units, equal to the entire US plug-in vehicle market of 2018. It includes all BEV and PHEV passenger cars sales, light trucks in the Americas and light commercial vehicle in Europe and Asia. Their share in the global light vehicle market was 3,5 % in June and 2,5 % for 2019 H1. 74 % of sales were all-electric (BEV) and 26 % were plug-in hybrids (PHEV), a massive shift of 11 % towards BEVs, compared to the 1st half of 2018. It was driven by the full availability of the Tesla Model-3, revised taxation/subsidy schemes and the Europe introduction of the more stringent WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) for CO2 emissions, all leading to higher demand for pure EVs.

Preliminary results for the month of July show significantly slower sector growth than for H1, only 4 % globally. The two main reasons: (1) In July, revised subsidy schemes became fully effective in China, excluding vehicles below 250 km e-range and cutting subsidies into half for BEVs with longer range. NEV sales (New Energy Vehicles) contracted by 2 % in China in July, following 79 % growth in 2018 and 66 % in 2019 H1. We expect a decline for August as well, followed by a gradual recovery to growth rates of 30 % for the remainder of the year. (2) The US market increased by 89 % last year; most of the growth came from the Tesla Model-3 and in the 2nd half of 2018. Once escaping production hell, Model-3 deliveries were as high as they could get, covering the huge order back-log. Last years' increase can not be expected for 2019, esp. when most brands other than Tesla sell fewer Plug-ins in the US than in 2018.

By its sheer volume, China is still the largest growth contributor, with 257 000 units (+66 %) added to a total of 645 000 units during the first 6 months. Europe growth for H1 was 34 %, +67 000 units, still held back by tight inventories, waiting lists for popular BEVs and the run-out of high-selling PHEVs. Plug-in sales in USA increased by 23 % in H1, +27 500 units, and with the Model-3 increasing by 45 000 units it means declining sales for many others. Among the fastest growing market with over 1000 units sales were Ireland (+183 %), Netherlands (120 %), Denmark (+86 %) and Poland (+81 %). Many markets in Southeast Asia have triple-digit growth.

The share leader is Norway, as usual. Counting passenger cars only, 58 % of new car sales were electrically chargeable this year. Iceland comes 2nd with 18 % and Sweden 3rd with 11 % for 2019 H1. Our Europe story on H1 has more details on this, but please note that shares presented there, include LCVs, which drag the average shares down. Among the larger economies, China leads with a plug-in share of 6 %. Among other car markets with over 1 million total sales, Canada leads with 2,7 %, all others  show 2,5 % or less for H1 combined. The best selling plug-in, by a wide margin, was the Tesla Model-3, with ca 128 000 units delivered globally during H1 of 2019. This puts it close to the leading ICE car models in the Mid-Luxury car segment, still carrying the handicap of import duties in the vast Chinese EV market. In the US it outsells the corresponding ICE entries of BMW, Mercedes and Audi by a ratio of two to one.
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57 % of H1 Plug-in sales were in China

China has further advanced in the EV industry with 66 % more NEVs sold year-on-year in H1 and stood for 57 % of global plug-in sales. In June, the NEV share in all light vehicles sold was as high as 8,1 %. In contrast to booming NEV sales, the downturn in the overall car market continued. H1 light vehicle sales in China were off over 12 % compared to H1 of last year. ICE-only sales were down 14 %. On an annualised basis, the 2019 ICE volume is lower by 2,5 million units compared to the 2017 market peak, while NEVs gain nearly 1 million compared to 2017.

Losses in Japan are related to the decline of Toyota Prius Plug-in sales and the transition of the Nissan Leaf to the 60 kWh version. Also the #3 in the sales ranking, Mitsubishi Outlander, stayed just flat. Few bright points otherwise.

Europe CO2 test procedures and tax schemes have become tougher on PHEVs in several countries and it shows in the ratios of BEV to PHEVs sold. The BEV share in the mix increased from 51 % to 68 %. Volumes of BEVs increased by 79 %, while PHEVs lost 12 % versus H1 of 2018. The increases for total Europe was 34 %, but could have been higher with better availability of popular models. You find more info on the Europe results here.

Nearly all plug-in growth in USA can be attributed to the Tesla Model-3; many others were in reverse. The summary for the USA results is here. "Others" include Canada (26 900 sales so far, +24 %), South Korea (16 700 sales, +43 %) and many fast growing, smaller EV markets around the world.
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Model-3 retains special status

As expected and still impressive, the new Tesla was the world's best selling plug-in in H1 and by a large margin. Sales volumes approach those of premium competitors selling 300 to 400 000 units per year. Once production is localised in China, global volumes can be on par with the leaders in the mid-luxury segment.

Beneath the #1, the changes in ranking were many, compared to 2018: The BAIC EC-Series sub-compact stumbled over subsidy hurdles, lost over 30 000 sales and is now on place 38. Meanwhile, BAIC revived the EU-Series, a previous also-ran. It raised to #2 like a Phoenix. The Nissan Leaf retained the #3 position despite softening sales. The next 10 contenders all had sales of 20 to 30k for the first half year. Tesla was in that ballpark in H1 of last year, but lost plenty of volume on S & X this year and fell out the top-10. The BYD Yuan EV, a small SUV with 400 km e-range became an instant hit and sold 29 000 units in China since March.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is still going strong. With its relatively large battery of 12 kWh it stayed under the 50g CO2 limit even in the stricter WLTP. In Europe it was an attractive substitute for all discontinued PHEVs. The BYD e5 and Geely Emgrand BEVs are attractive in the fast growing ride hailing (like DiDi) business and gained further volume. The Renault Zoe climbed 3 ranks, even if it is replaced by the end of the year.

Note that only 2 out the top-10 are now PHEVs and they are both SUVs.


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