The shift to pure electric vehicles continues to gain momentum in Europe, where the split between all-electric and plug-in hybrid has traditionally been half and half, new data says.
More choice in affordable electric cars with longer range, better price parity, an increasingly accessible charging network and various bans and restrictions on ICE sale and use are driving sales of pure battery electric vehicles up, and the trend does not look like slowing down.
Thanks to these factors as well as changes in EV tax incentive schemes and stricter ICE testing, the split between BEV and PHEV sales is now 65/35, with BEV sales seeing a 12% increase in the split from 2017.
Every month saw a year-on-year increase in the purchase of overall plug-in sales according to the data which was released by EV-Volumes this week, with approximately 408,000 units in total sold – equalling a one-third increase from 2017 and approximately 265,000 of those with all-electric drivetrains.
For plug-in hybrids, the declining numbers are attributed to stricter emissions requirements under the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) introduced in 2017.
With stricter controls and testing, many PHEV batteries require upgrades to meet the 50gm CO2/km limits under WLTP law, largely those made by VW, Audi and Daimler – BMW’s 5 series as well as the 2-Serien MPV and the Mini Countryman on the other hand maintained sales.
BMW remains the leader across all plug-in sales for Europe, no doubt helped by its PHEV 5 series which did not suffer the same fate as other PHEVs – it saw a 23% increase YoY from 2017.
VW follows at second best-seller for plug-in sales, although its overall increase was somewhat lower than BMWs – only 8%.
This was followed by Nissan, which doubled its sales of its all-electric Leaf with 43,090 units sold, and Renault, whose Zoe followed closely behind with 39,458 units sold.
The largest gain year-on-year was by Hyundai-Kia, which saw a 123% increase in sales, thanks to the introduction of 6 battery electric and PHEV models in the last few years.
It is likely this trend will continue, with the Ioniq BEV and moreso the Kona BEV proving popular and Hyundai in particular increasing Kona export numbers.
Tesla sales remained more or less steady but this will no doubt also increase now that the Model 3 has hit European shores.
In terms of market share, Norway remains the leader with 40.2% of light vehicle ownership belonging to the plug-in market. Out of the total light vehicle fleet, 26% is now pure electric with the remaining 14% being PHEV.
Scandinavian neighbours Iceland and Sweden came in second and third, with 17.5% plug-in market share in Iceland (13.4% BEV / 4.1% PHEV). Sweden trailed with less than half that – 7.2% plug-in ownership, 2/3 of which are battery electric.
In total sales, plug-in sales increased in almost every country with the exception of Belgium – Norway remaining the leader, maintaining its spot at #1 and seeing an increase YoY of 18% from 2017.
Germany followed in at #2, with a 23% increase, followed by the UK at #3 and France at #4 – both with a 25% increase YoY from 2017.
Countries that saw a dramatic increase in plug-in sales include Denmark, which saw an almost four-fold increase (371% YoY), Netherlands (187% YoY) and Italy, where sales doubled and a newly introduced €6000 subsidy as of March 1st, 2018 will no doubt continue to encourage the trend.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.