Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles outsold pure battery electric vehicles in Western European markets in the first two months of 2021, according to Schmidt Automotive Research’s European Electric Car Report.
Across 18 countries, 224,000 plug-in electric passenger cars were sold in January and February, including both hybrid plug-ins EVs (PHEVs) and pure battery EVs (BEVS). That was a 61 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Together, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles accounted for 15 per cent of new vehicles sold in February, up from 7 per cent last February.
However, unlike December, when the number of pure battery EVs far outnumbered the number of plug-in hybrids sold, 2021 has seen a resurgence in interest in PHEVs, which made of 8.6 per cent of all new car sales, or 128,500 units.
By contrast, BEV sales hit just under 100,000 units, making up 6.5 per cent of all new car sales.
Over the 12 months to February BEVs were more popular, selling just under 750,000 units to 670,000 PHEVs.
Why the uptick in PHEV sales? Shmidt offered two answers, both relating to supply constraints in the BEV market rather than a growth in demand for PHEVs.
First, the delivery timetable for Tesla BEVs from California means January and February are quieter months in Europe for BEVs. It predicted an uptick in March.
The report also pointed to potential problems with Volkswagen’s MEB platform for its electric cars.
“A possibility is that they may have held MEB-based volumes back until a software issue has finally been resolved, although a company spokesperson didn’t want to give any further comment, saying they are happy with their BEV order-intake when questioned by this report,” the report said.
James Fernyhough is a reporter at RenewEconomy and The Driven. He has worked at The Australian Financial Review and the Financial Times, and is interested in all things related to climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy.