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Global BEV & PHEV Sales for 2019

by Roland Irle, EV-volumes.com

Global plug-in vehicle deliveries 2019 reached 2264 400 units, 9 % higher than for 2018.  This is a clear departure from the growth rates of the previous 6 years, which were between 46% and 69 %. The reasons are in the developments in the two largest markets, China and USA, where sales stagnated in the 2nd half of 2019 and stayed significantly below the sales boom in 2018 H2. In USA, sales of most plug-in models decreased compared to the boom in 2018 H2. In China, further slashing of subsidies, paired with more stringent technical regulation caused a crash in NEV demand and supply, starting in July.

Europe became the beacon of 2019 EV sales with 44 % growth, accelerating towards the end of the year. The WLTP introduction, together with changes in national vehicle taxation and grants created more awareness and demand for EVs. The industry geared up to meet the 95 gCO2/km target for 2020/2021. Over 30 new and improved BEV/PHEV models were introduced in 2019, many of them in Q4, which will push EV sales in this year and the next.

The global BEV&PHEV share for 2019 was 2,5 % and the smaller car markets continue to lead EV adoption. The share leader is Norway, as usual, where 56 % of new car sales were Plug-ins in 2019. Iceland came 2nd with 24,5 % and the Netherlands 3rd with 15 %. Among the larger economies, China lead with a plug-in share of 5,2 %, UK posted 3,2 %, Germany 2,9 %, France 2,8 %, Canada 2,7 %. All other car markets with over 1 million total sales showed 2 % or less for 2019.

At the end of 2019 the global fleet of plug-ins was 7,5 million, counting light vehicles. Medium and heavy commercial vehicles add another 700 000 units to the global stock of plug-ins. Their global deliveries were 100 000 units in 2019, thereof 95 % in China and mostly as large buses.

Amid COVID-19, the outlook for 2020 global EV sales becomes more difficult. We expect high growth in Europe throughout the year, high growth in USA and other markets in H2, but China could become another disappointment. The preliminary EV sales data for January and February is very positive in Europe, encouraging in USA, but dismal in China, where the total vehicle market was down 80 % in February. If quarantines and factory closures continue into Q2, insufficient parts supply affects the global car industry during a longer period and the lost volumes are unlikely to be recovered during this year. In China, this gets another dimension when dealers remain closed and buyers have to stay at home.

As usual, feel free to publish diagrams and text for you own purposes, mentioning us as the source.

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Europe gears up

China's NEV sales still showed 3 % small increase in 2019, despite the crash in H1. Growth was a brisk 70 % for H1 until the 2nd round of subsidy reductions and further technical requirements strangled demand and supply. In H2, when usually 70 % of NEVs are delivered, sales contracted by 31 % versus 2018. The total car market was down 12 % y/y during H1 and 4 % y/y during H2. China still stood for 53 % of global BEV&PHEV, down from 56 % in 2018.

Europe became the winner of 2019 with 44 % volume growth y/y. Europes share in global BEV&PHEV sales increase from 20 % to 26 % within a year. The largest volume growth contributors were Germany and the Netherlands. Nearly all European markets posted gains last year.

The losses in Japan continued, with the 3 leading domestic entries all in decline. Only Tesla and BMW increased their Plug-in sales in 2019.

USA posted an unexpected loss of 12 % versus 2018. The next section gives more details about the developments. Others include Canada (51k sales, +19 %), South Korea (34k sales, +7 %) and many fast growing, smaller EV markets around the world.
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More details for USA and China

The upper chart compares the quarterly USA plug-in sales of 2019 compared to 2018. The 12 % decline, from 359k to 318k was caused by a number of factors: Tesla Model-3 sales of H2-2019 compare to the 2018 period when Tesla delivered on all the pre-orders since 2016, while H2 of 2019 more reflected running demand in the US. Also, Tesla skipped the 75 kWh battery version for Model S&X in Q1, increasing the starting price for the remaining 100 kWh version by $3000 on the S and by $6000 for the X, in exchange for improved range, notwithstanding. The market did not buy it all and S&X were down 35 % (by 17 600 units) for the year. US sales of the Model-3 increased from 140k in 2018 to 145k in 2019.

USA sales of OEMs other than Tesla show a combined decrease of -17 %, vs -6 % for Tesla. US and Japanese brands stood for most of the decline, while European and Korean OEM gained from new model introductions, like the Audi e-tron Quattro and the Hyundai Kona.

The lower diagram shows the share development NEVs in China. Monthly demand anticipated the 2 steps of subsidy cuts, becoming effective in April and July, with many deliveries pulled ahead into March and June. After that, the crash became a fact, hitting especially the price-sensitive segments and most domestic EV makers. Some of the smaller Chinese companies have only sold a few hundreds of cars during H2. How and when they can return to normal business is still uncertain.

December deliveries indicated a partial market recovery, but 2020 started with a February shut-down of most car manufacturing after the COVID-19 outbreak. January, with fewer working days than last year, had a 50 % slump of NEV sales. February and March will reflect "state of emergency", with 80 % declines in February, hopefully less in March. Imports most likely gain in this situation.

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