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Global Plug-in Sales for Q1-2018

by Roland Irle, EV-volumes.com

2017 was a great year for Plug-ins and the pace continues: Quarter 1 deliveries of this year were 312 400 units worldwide, 59 % higher than for Q1-2017. The numbers include all global BEV and PHEV passenger cars sales, light trucks in USA/Canada, light commercial vehicles in Europe and now also light commercial vehicles in China as a new, emerging category. Plug-in hybrids (+69 %) increased faster than pure EVs (+52 %) again, PHEVs stood for 39 % for Q1-2018.

1076 fuel-cell vehicles were delivered,  34 % more than for Q1 of last year.

China was less impacted by delayed subsidies this year and had a strong start, BYD in particular, with their Qin and Song PHEVs. The long awaited Tesla Model-3 had over 8000 deliveries during Q1 and made it to place 10 in the global model ranking for March. The best selling model overall was the new Nissan Leaf with 22 000 deliveries, 44 % more than last year.

The fastest growing markets in Q1 were China (+113 %), Canada (+114 %), Netherlands (+122 %), South Korea (+138 %), Spain (+118 %, Finland (+144 %), New Zealand (+99 %) and Australia (+132 %). Share leaders are Norway (as usual), where 46 % of new car sales were Plug-ins this year. Iceland comes 2nd with 26 % and Sweden 3rd with 7 % for Q1 combined. All larger economies had plug-in shares shares of 2,5 % or lower.

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Regional comments

Here is how the 59 % growth split up by geography:

China usually starts the year with sales and NEV shares below trend. Delayed subsidy approvals and the Chinese new-year events cause a dent which is recovered later in the year. January of  2017 was particularly weak and 113 % growth in Q1 need to be seen in that context. Nevertheless, a strong start in China for 2018.

In Japan, 3 models (Leaf, Prius, Outlander) stand for 90 % of the plug-in volume and the gains for the new Leaf caused losses for the Prius. Moderate growth in Q1, therefore.

In Europe, the new Leaf had its sales start in February and March sales were 6252 units, 66 % higher than for the predecessor. New PHEVs with low, or no sales last year, were important growth contributors. Germany shows the highest volume gains and is about to pass Norway as the largest plug-in market in Europe.

USA is still waiting for larger supply of Tesla Model-3 and Nissan Leaf II. Still, the Model-3 was the best seller from January thru April, with 12 000 deliveries this year, including April. In Q1, Tesla had 1/3rd of the US plug-in market and all of their models were in the top-5 sales ranking.

The tally for "Other" looks odd, given that many markets grow at triple digit % now. The reason is in Hong Kong, where their 4000 unit plug-in market collapsed when generous subsidies were cancelled after Q1-2017.

second Global Plug-in Sales for Q1-2018 image
third Global Plug-in Sales for Q1-2018 image

Mind the S-curve

Plug-in volumes have nearly quadrupled since 2014 and continuing at the current rate of adoption would mean that roughly half of the worlds car sales are plug-ins, by 2027. Adoption of new technology often follows S-curves and is rarely a linear function. What looks inconceivable today can be quite possible for the future. The global share in new car sales 2017 was just 1,34 % and our prediction is that it reaches close to 3 % in December 2018 and 2 % for the complete year. Smallish numbers, but the whole sector develops at a rapid pace:  

The number of public charging locations has doubled within 2 years. Plug-ins are available on over 80 markets around the world, we are counting at least 100 models with sales over 100 per month. Popular models like the new Leaf, the Tesla Model-3 have waiting lists or tight inventory. Battery cost have come down by 50 % in the last 3 years. Leading OEM have announced EV portfolios good for 25 % in their sales mix, for the next decade, among them VW, BMW and Daimler. Diesel is not the solution anymore. More and more Governments are pushing zero-emission vehicles. Mobility services go electric.

All of this speaks for rapid growth in the coming years. Our bid is 1,9 million, 48 % above last year.

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