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Europe Plug-in Sales for 2016

Plug-in vehicle sales in Europe reached 222 200 units in 2016, just 14 % higher than for 2015. These include all  Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) in Europe, passenger cars sales and light commercial vehicles. Plug-in share of the European light vehicle market reached 1,3 %, compared to 1,22 % the year earlier. The overall light vehicle market developed strong, reaching 17,1 Million   in 2016, 7 % higher than 2015, according to ACEA.

The sluggish development relates to much lower sales in the Netherlands and Denmark compared to last year. Q4 sales looked particularly weak vs 2015 when taxation changes in the Netherlands and Denmark caused a run on Plug-ins in these markets.

The start for 2017 looks more promising. The preliminary results for January 2017 indicate 54 % higher sales than for January 2016. Norway, Germany, Sweden and France developing particularly strong.

The common trend for 2016 was a shift in mix towards plug-in hybrids in nearly all markets. The sector reached a 50:50 split of BEV to PHEV in 2016. We expect this to swing back to more BEV sales as more affordable, long range EVs are available now. Among them the Renault Zoe and the BMW i3 which posted doubled sales in January 2017 vs a year ago.

We are also tracking the sales of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles; their sales in Europe were 134 units for 2016, 22 % lower than for 2015.

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Norway is the largest market again

The Netherlands were the largest plug-in market in Europe for 2015 (90 % were PHEVs) and the 47 % sales drop (-20 000 in volume) left its trace. The aforementioned tax incentive reductions in NL levelled most of the PHEV savings and had their sales  drop by more than half.

Despite the rather disappointing overall result for total Europe, the growth in most individual countries was clearly encouraging. Most markets in the top-15 list (by 2016 volume) posted increase by 1/3rd or more. Norway, Sweden, France  & U.K. continued the strong growth pace, volumes in Spain, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Belgium developed even faster, albeit from low levels.  Notable exceptions: Germany, were the new €4000 support for BEV and €3000 for PHEV left car buyers unimpressed. In Denmark the market has lost faith in green car taxation regimes, which (being complicated beyond comprehension) were debated and revised until the eve of 2016.

Preliminary January 2017 results show that Germany (+88 %) and also Switzerland (+19 %) recover from the 2016 doldrums.

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Norway leads share ranking by a huge margin

The plug-in share in Norway is off the chart, as usual. No other country comes close to the 24 % share which Noway has performed during this year. Nearly one quarter of new car and LCV sales were chargeable from the grid and the trend is towards even higher shares. BEV share was 13 % (PHEV 11 %), for 2016.

Netherlands retains its 2nd rank of 2015 despite the huge drop in sales; December had another run on PHEVs as their incentives get further reduced for 2017. Belgium, Austria and the U.K. made it over the 1 % mark this year. Among the big-5 vehicle markets in Europe France clearly leads, whereas Germany and Italy are clearly below the European average share of 1,3 % for 2016.

In nearly all markets, PHEVs grew faster than pure EVs. Exceptions were Austria and for smaller PEV markets Hungary, Poland, Russia not shown in the chart. New, attractive plug-in hybrid offers from popular brands and the still unsatisfactory range / charging convenience for most EVs are the main reason behind the development.


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