Europe Buys Its 500,000th Plug-in Vehicle

In May Europe’s cumulative total sales of plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) crossed the half-million unit mark.

Just the top six European countries with unit counts available at this point have purchased 502,311 PEVs, making Europe number one in passenger PEVs, with the U.S. second, and China third.

The count for Europe does include about 32,000 light commercial utility vans, so counting just passenger vehicles, Europe is at about 470,000.

That’s still ahead of the approximately 460,000 in the U.S., and given this is a partial count through end of last month, Europe is well on the way to 500,000 passenger PEV sales if it hasn’t done it already.

Looking at the cumulative total of European major markets since PEVs began selling in 2007, following are the leaders.

1. Norway about 105,000 @ May 2016
2. Netherlands about 92,600 @ April 2016
3. France about 89,600 @ May 2016
4. UK over 70,000 @ May 2016
5. Germany over 57,400 @ May 2016 (vans not included)
6. Sweden about 21,500 @ May 2016
7. Switzerland about 12,300 @ April 2016

You’ll note sales for the Netherlands and Switzerland are only through April. The only major market missing at this stage from the 500k count is the Netherlands, which may add another thousand-some sales.

According to global sales tracker Mario R. Duran, the Dutch PEV market spiked last year as consumers rushed to take advantage of incentives drying up, and this year average monthly sales have been just 1,000 units or so, compared to an average 3,600 in 2015.

Among the top-selling European countries for this calendar year through May, Norway leads with 18,734 units, the UK follows with 16,056, France is third with 15,267, Germany spoke for 8,783, and Sweden saw 4,509 PEV sales. The Netherlands through April is at 3,592.

Accelerating Pace

Compared to the U.S., Europe which used to trail it has been coming on strong. Last summer it grew 60-percent faster from January through April, and in December, we reported through October it was up 86 percent.

Helping things is about 35 models of PEVs in Europe, or nearly twice the selection of available models compared to the U.S.

In the U.S. market, the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S and Model X are among the top sellers, and in Europe, two cars not sold in the U.S. are present heavy hitters, these being the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Renault Zoe.

China also is on a roll with its heavily incentivized market, as that nation seeks to remedy air quality concerns with zero-emission mandates.

It surpassed the U.S. in 2015 also, and leads the world.

But in its favor is the U.S. has been and remains a leader in plug-in electrified vehicles. It is, for example, the home country of Tesla which is of course selling abroad.

Tesla cars, including the pending Model 3, as well as the 2017 Chevy Bolt are the only two 200-plus-mile range EVs at this stage out and announced in the sub-$40,000 category.

Nissan’s next Leaf, and a couple more will be too, so in the ebb and flow of market position, the U.S. is competitive, albeit slipping in the total volume category.

Very soon the world will buy its 1,500,000th plug-in car, and in all markets, things are speeding up.