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Europe Plug-in Sales Results for 2018 H1

by Roland Irle, EV-volumes.com

Plug-in vehicle sales in Europe reached 195 000 units in the first half of 2018, 42 % higher than for the same period of 2017. These include all Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) in Europe, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The plug-in share of the European light vehicle market reached 2,2 % in June and 2 % for the first half year. The trend, so far, indicates further increases around 40 % during the remainder of the year. 51 % of plug-in sales are pure electric vehicles (BEV) and there rest are Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV). Only 87 fuel-cell vehicles were sold during the period, up from 66 last year. With powerful Hyundai and Toyota behind them, the numbers speak for themselves.

The German market is the strongest growth contributor, in terms of volumes. Even if growth rates do not reach 100 % as last year, this year's 52 %, combined with the sheer size of the German market, push volumes forward. Norway is still Europe's largest market for plug-ins, with a staggering share of 37 % in this year's light vehicle sales. Counting passenger cars only, the share was 46,5 % in 2018 H1. A good indication of what is possible with compelling savings on vehicle taxes, much lower operating cost and a well developed charging infrastructure.

All Europe countries post growth for 2018 H1, many of them over 100 %, albeit still from low volumes. For the full year of 2018 we expect 430 000 plug-ins to be delivered in Europe, and a market share of 2,35 %. This is for the total of all EU and EFTA countries. The European plug-in vehicle fleet is now over 1 million and we expect the population to be 1350 000 units when the year ends.

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Growth is everywhere this year

Norway still leads the European country ranking. 36 500 plug-ins were delivered including June and for the complete 2018 we expect 84 000 sales, a share of 45 % in Norway's market for passenger cars + light commercial vehicles. Germany sales grow faster, though, and we expect it to take the volume lead in Europe with 88 500 registrations when 2018 is closed.

All Europe markets showed growth during the first half of 2018, though with varying pace. Plug-in sales in Netherlands and Denmark have turned around to rapid increases, following years of volume losses in adverse incentive schemes. France and UK continue with moderate increases as their domestic OEMs (PSA, Ford, Vauxhall) have less than compelling offers in the sector. Belgium has cut the incentives on luxury PHEVs and sales grew by a mere 4 %. All others have double or triple digit growth during the period, albeit from smaller bases.

In total, Europe plug-in sales grew by 42 %, compared to 2017-H1. Q1 increased 40%, Q2 by 45%. A caveat for high growth in the 2nd half is vehicle supply. Our tracking of plug-in vehicle inventory shows an average of only 4 days of supply on stock and 2 months of order back-log. Models with more than 10 000 unfulfilled orders, each, are Hyundai Kona, VW e-Golf, Jaguar i-Pace and Nissan Leaf and obviously the Tesla Model 3, all of them BEVs.

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The Nordics lead in EV adoption

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.

Except in Denmark, where the market was confused by incomprehensible green car taxation plans, the nordic countries lead in EV adoption. The plug-in share in Norway is off the chart, as usual, with 37 % YTD. EVs have a long tradition in Norway (the Th!nk and Buddy microcars) and EV awareness in Norway started some years ahead of other countries. Thanks to clear, stable incentives in form of generous tax and toll savings, EVs have become the smart choice for light duty transport, despite long distances and a less than balmy climate. Low-cost electricity from 99 % hydropower helps, too. Iceland is in a similar position.

The mix of BEV vs. PHEV varies a lot between markets, highly depending on national incentive schemes. PHEVs captured more share compared to 2017, driven by the growing number of entries from German OEM. For 2018 YTD, 51 % of plug-in sales were all-electric in Europe.

PHEVs are the main contributor to high plug-in shares in Iceland, Sweden and Finland. It can be expected that future incentive schemes will reduce support for PHEVs and increase them for EVs. An example is the introduction of a tougher "bonus-malus" vehicle taxation system in Sweden from 1st of July. It created a swing of 10 % towards BEVs in the July registrations.

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