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Global Plug-in Sales for 2016

Worldwide plug-in vehicle sales in 2016 were  773 600 units,  42 % higher than for 2015. These include all global BEV and PHEV passenger cars sales, light trucks in USA/Canada and light commercial vehicle in Europe. The total light vehicle market was up by 2 % to 90 million units. Plug-in vehicle sales grew 20 times faster than the overall market, but still captured a world market share of just 0,86 %. By the end of December the number of Plug-ins on the road passed the 2 million mark,  61 % of them are pure EVs and 39 % plug-in hybrids.

December also had the highest ever recorded monthly sales number, with 102 500 units in the 60 markets we are tracking. Growth rates weakened in Q4, partly because they compare to artificially inflated 2015-Q4 sales (remember the run on PHEV in the Netherlands). The 2nd reason is weakening growth for China in H2 (read the story here), amid lower purchase subsidies for 2017.

China has increasing its significance as a market and as  a manufacturing base for "New Energy Vehicles", the Chinese term for electrically chargeable vehicles. It stand for 45 % of all plug-in vehicles sold worldwide. In 2015, this figure was 35 %.

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Entering the S-curve

Plug-in volumes have more than tripled since 2013 and continuing on last years growth rate of 42 % would mean 8 out of 10 cars sold being Plug-ins in 2030. Inconceivable today, not impossible for the future. The global picture shows just 0,85 % market share, but in some markets it is already a multitude of that: Norway had 24 % plug-in share in 2016, Netherlands 5 %, Sweden 3,2 %.  The impact on the vehicle population is still hardly noticeable in most countries. The global motor vehicle population of cars and trucks has reached 1,4 billion and just 2 million of them can be plugged in.

Amid still tiny numbers, the whole sector develops at a rapid pace. Locations for charging have increased at least 10-fold, the number of available grid charged models has increased from 70 to 130 since 2013, incentive schemes became more effective. Battery cost have come down by 50 % in the last 3 years. Renewables have reached cost parity in electricity generation. Leading OEM have announced EV portfolios good for 25 % in their sales mix, for the next decade. Let alone Tesla's giga-investments for the future EV industry.

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Sales by Region

China is the growth motor for plug-in sales, +85 %  compared to 2015. 351 000 "New Energy Vehicle" were sold in the passenger car category, on top of that nearly 160 000 commercial vehicles (not shown in this chart), mostly all-electric buses. The Chinese government is very serious about reducing GHG emissions, tormenting smog and traffic congestion. Policies are being developed to push NEV adoption to over 10 % share in new vehicle sales by 2020. December sales, usually the highest of the year, were lower than expected, though. The coming month will show if this slump was temporary. Read here for more details about the China result.

The US has recovered from the weak development during 2015 (-4 %), posting +36 % for 2016 over 2015. The 3rd and 4th quarter were particularly strong with 61 rsp 43 % increase over 2015. Also 2017 opened higher than ever, with around 70 % more sales than in January 2016.

Europe struggled to continue on the 99 % growth rate of 2015. Many markets developed strong, but the incentive changes for PHEV in the Netherlands and EVs in Denmark darken the overall picture. PEV growth in Europe was just 13 % for the year, especially Q4 looked bleak compared to the inflated sales of Q4-2015.  We will soon issue a summary on the situation in Europe with more details.


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