How Top Selling European Plug-in Models Compare To Their Brands’ ICE Versions

When comparing European plug-in electrified vehicle sales leaders with their brand-specific internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, Mitsubishi leads the way.

In a new study by European Alternative Fuels Observatory, the four best selling PEV models sold in Europe last year were compared to sales figures with their ICE counterparts. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV had about 53 percent of European sales last year versus about 47 percent for the internal combustion engine version of the Outlander.

Comparing the Renault Zoe versus the Renault Clio saw about 7 percent for the Zoe; the Nissan Leaf did much better with about 38 percent going to the Leaf and the remainder coming from Nissan Pulsar sales; and the Volkswagen Passat GTE only doing about 7 percent of the total versus about 93 percent the Passat’s ICE version.

Popular ICE models have continued to do well, with the Renault Clio and VW Passat seeing strong sales compared to PEVs for their brands. For the two ICE models with low sales – the Nissan Pulsar or the diesel version of the Mitsubishi Outlander – the electrified versions have been filling a void and driving up sales for the brands.

EAFO sees the sales trend influenced by established car models being easier for dealers to sell. Lesser known ICE models are hard to sell to average buyers, and dealers can feel compelled to promote the PEVs.

The study takes a look at PEV sales trends in Norway, a nation that may ban the sale of fossil-fuel powered cars by 2025. In that market, PEVs made up 30 percent of market share in new vehicle sales last year.

The sales numbers for the top four PEV models essentially flipped compared the overall Europe market. With the exception of the VW Passat reaching nearly a 50/50 in plug-in versus ICE versions, for the other three carmakers, PEVs represented 90 percent or more of the brand sales in that segment.

The Renault brand has not been a strong seller in Norway, coming in 17th place last year. The Renault Zoe has played a disruptive role in that market with the plug-in vehicle strengthening and increasing sales for the nameplate.

The researchers expect the all-electric e-Golf, with its longer range version coming out in the first half of 2017, will make PEV sales stronger in Norway for the automaker.

Another sales trend is the impact PEVs have had on premium brands impacted by Tesla’s presence in the region. With the exception of the Outlander SUV, Tesla’s growing presence in the market selling the Model S and Model X has been hurting non-plug-in luxury vehicle sales for premium brands.

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BMW has moved more swiftly into PEVs because of Tesla, EAFO said. That automaker had its PEV sales go from a little more than zero percent in 2013 to 5 percent last year.

Mainstream brands aren’t feeling the direct effect of Tesla yet, which may change with the Model 3 coming out soon. The shift into PEV models and sales is going at a slower pace for mainstream brands, according to the study.

Because mainstream brands do not feel the direct effect of Tesla or any other disruptive force, the shift into EVs is done at a slower pace.


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