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Europe Plug-in Sales for 2019 H1

by Roland Irle, EV-volumes.com

Plug-in vehicle sales in Europe reached 259 000 units in the first half of 2019, 34 % higher than for 2018 H1. These include all Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) in EU and EFTA countries, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The plug-in share of the European light vehicle market reached 2,9 % in June and 2,7 % for the first half year. The trend, so far, indicates an increases of 33 % for the entire 2019 to around 540 000 units. Demand and supply experiences a profound shift towards pure electric vehicles (BEV). While their share in plug-in sales was 51 % for 2018 H1, it has increased to 68 % for 2019 H1. The change reflects the introduction of the more stringent WLTP for fuel economy ratings, changes in taxation/grants promoting more BEV uptake and better supply of long-range BEVs. The hiatus in PHEV offers continued, with several popular model being upgraded with longer e-range for the 2020 model-year. Year-on-year, PHEV volumes actually declined, loosing 12 300 units (-13 %) during the first 6 months, while BEVs had 79 % more sales.

The OEM ranking changed a lot, too, with Tesla becoming #1 by 38 000 Model-3 deliveries in H1. The Model-3 was the best seller in the sector posting 12 500 units more than the previous #1, the Renault Zoe. BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler suffered from pending upgrades of popular PHEV models, with deliveries starting in Q3 and Q4 this year. Winners were Hyundai-Kia, Renault, Mitsubishi and Jaguar-Land Rover.

Germany and the Netherlands were the strongest growth contributors, in terms of volumes. Germany has become the largest market for plug-ins in Europe, displacing Norway to the #2 position for the first time. Norway is still the word leader in EV uptake, with a share of 47 % in this year's light vehicle sales, up 10 %-points from 2018 H1.

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Germany passes Norway in volume

Despite weak PHEV supplies from their domestic OEM, Germany gained the #1 position from Norway this year, even if it is by a small margin. It was a result of strong sales increases from the new Tesla Model-3 (5350 units), Renault Zoe (5550 units, +106 %), BMW i3 (4520 units, +84 %) and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (4130 units, +520 %), which filled some of the voids left by Daimler, VW Group and BMW. The new Audi e-tron quattro and the Hyundai Kona EV, both not available in H1 of 2018, added 1800 units each.

Among the top-15 markets, UK is the only one in reverse this year. PHEVs lost their subsidies and BEV get 1000 GBP less than last year. The UK plans to set the BIK (Benefit In Kind) for company car taxation to zero for BEVs, starting in April 2020. This will postpone many BEV purchases to next year in the UK. Meanwhile, neighbour Ireland has become the fastest growing plug-in market in Europe.

Following more generous subsidies and helped by oddities like petrol truck driver strikes in Portugal, also Southern Europe markets showed strong and consistent volume increases. In total, Europe plug-in sales grew by 34 %, compared to 2018-H1. Q1 increased 40%, Q2 by 28%.

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Shifting to pure electric

This diagram shows the share of Plug-ins among all light vehicles sold in a country and the composition of BEVs and PHEVs in the overall share. The %-columns to the right show the gains and losses for BEVs and PHEVs compared to last year in terms of volume.

The mix of BEV vs. PHEV varies a lot between markets, highly depending on national taxation and incentive schemes. The recent developments in vehicle portfolios and vehicle taxation have caused a rapid shift towards BEVs in most countries. For 2019 YTD, 68 % of plug-in sales were all-electric in Europe, compared to 51 % in 2018 H1. For the first time, PHEVs have lost volume in Europe, from 95k in 2018 H1 to 83k this year. The WLTP introduction in September 2018 has hurt e-range and CO2 ratings of PHEVs, with lower green car incentives as a consequence.

As usual, Norway is off the chart, with 47 % share YTD and much more BEVs in the mix. The best selling car of all categories in Norway was the Tesla Model-3, with 13,5 % market share this year, so far.


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