Global electric vehicle sales recorded a 16% rise in February compared to the same month in 2019, and although the Coronavirus crisis is causing car makers to halt production, it is expected that a 2% rise year on year is also on the cards for March sales.
Among the global battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) offerings, Tesla’s Model 3 electric sedan again lead the way with 13,661 units sold in February taking year to date to 22,983, according to figures released on Tuesday by José Pontes, of EV Sales. Tesla’s official sales figures for Q1 2020 are expected later this week.
Renault’s Zoe maintained its hold on the second spot on the ladder – although sales declined in February – with sales of 16,316 year-to-date.
Volkswagen’s e-Golf – amid delays on the release of the upcoming ID.3 due to what may be significant software issues – was one of the few models to see a rise in sales compared to the previous month, earning a jump from number 8 on the ladder to number 4.
Other winners include the Mitsubishi Outlander in year-to-date numbers, which took the leading position for PHEVs from the BMW 530e/Le.
The new Peugeot 208-e is also doing well, as is the Audi e-Tron. Of particular interest to the Australian market is a rise by 3 points by the Hyundai Kona, Australia’s second most popular BEV after the Tesla Model 3.
The numbers are encouraging, but pinning hope on continued growth in EV sales during the Coronavirus pandemic should be cautioned, says Pontes.
“After several months in the red, registrations in February finally surpassed the same month last year, growing 16% YoY, to over 116,000 units,” he writes.
“This allowed the YTD (year to date) numbers to be back in black (+2%), with 268.000 deliveries, but this ray of light shouldn’t last for long, because the current Coronavírus pandemic is sure to drag sales down a hole, but for now, things aren’t that bad, with the February PEV share at 1.6%, dragging the 2020 plugin share to 1.8%.”
“With March promising to be still an ok-month in several markets, a global 2% score can still be achieved next month,” says Pontes.
And while sales of popular models like the Tesla Model 3 are on the rise, overall the BEV market has waned as the Chinese EV market slows amid reduction of EV subsidies.
While all-electric vehicles have the lion’s share of the plug-in market at 64% for February and 62% for the year, it is still less than 2019’s 74% share.
The Chinese government has now extended these for an additional two years to help combat an economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic but how soon this will make its benefits felt is yet to be seen.
Tesla’s 25% rise in overall sales saw it claim 10% of the entire market share in year-to-date sales, taking the lead from BMW, which saw a significant drop in sales from 12,976 units in January to just 8,431 in February.
BMW’s casualties were the 530e and 530 Le, which saw sales more than halve, and the 330e, which suffered a 40% drop in sales. Sales of the BMW i3 also saw a minor drop.
Volkswagen took the number 3 position from Renault despite a drop in overall sales, thanks again to consistent sales of the e-Golf and a strong January for the PHEV Passat. Pontes notes that Volkswagen AG in general is doing well, bringing its group market share in line with Renault-Nissan at 14%.
Other brand winners include Nissan, which jumped 6 points to number 6 as Leaf sales rose 36%, and Volvo which rose 2 points more because of greater declining sales of other brand models. Pontes notes that while sales of its XC60 PHEV dropped slightly, “with the XC40 PHEV just starting its career, the Swedish automaker can even climb higher.”
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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.