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Global Plug-In Vehicle Sales 2015

Nearly 540 000 Plug-ins were delivered during 2015, a global total that surprised many bransch experts, including us. The increase over 2014 was 70%, compared to 50% in the year before. The accelerated growth is a good sign for EV adoption. Nearly 200 000 Plug-ins were sold in Q4 alone! Admittedly, some special events inflated the quarter 4 results much beyond the trend of Q1-Q3. There was the run on plug-in hybrids in the Netherlands and Sweden (lower incentives for 2016), the boost in mini-EV sales in China (lower subsidies, depending on range) and the Tesla hype in Denmark (revised tax exemption schemes), to name the most significant.

More natural demand was created by a spree of new plug-in hybrids during the 2nd half of 2015: BYD Tang, Chevy Volt II, Passat GTE, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. Accordingly, sales volume of plug-in hybrids increased faster  (+80 %) than for pure EVs (+64 %). The global ratio of EV:PHEV is now 60:40; PHEV gained 2% in the mix during 2015.

The share of all Plug-ins in the global vehicle sales was still only 0,6 % in 2015. In September, the global vehicle population of Plug-ins reached the 1st million. Many countries have set national targets for their low-carbon vehicle population in 2020. The combined global volume of these targets is between 15 and 20 million vehicles, depending on the vehicle categories included. This means vehicles on the road. Sales growth needs to continue unabated with 70% annually to reach these numbers. It translates to over 7 million plug-in sales for 2020 and a 7 % share in the global passenger car market.

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World plug-in sales growth by region

The healthy global growth during 2015 is the more impressive as it came from 2 regions only: Europe and China. Sales in Europe doubled and they more than tripled in China, while contracting by 4 % in USA. The Volt change-over, declining sales of the aging Leaf and the complete absence of SUVs during most of the year left a visible dent in the US sales records. For Japan, 2015 was a lost year for plug-in sales.

You can find more details for the regional developments in our previous articles on EV-volumes.com:

Total Europe



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Increasing EV sales in China and Europe

One third of global plug-in sales volume in 2015 was from Chinese brands. This is a 16 %-point increase over 2014. The best selling model was the BYD Qin, with 31 900 units. The best selling model from Europe is the BMW i3, with 25 650 units sold in 2015. All European brands gained 10 %-points in sector share vs 2014, notably by the strides of the Volkswagen Group.

Japan lost sector share with an aging Nissan Leaf, which is still the best-seller from Japan. Beside its home plant in Oppama, Japan, it is produced in Sunderland, U.K., in Smyrna (TN), USA and in Guangdong, China in a joint venture with Dongfeng. The local nameplate is Venucia e30 there.

US brands stand for 17 % of global PEV sales, but they backed 8 %-points with the Chevy Volt Gen-1 in run-out mode during most of 2015 and Ford loosing sales and share in the sector. Tesla held the line and the Model S is the best-seller overall.

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