Like an icebreaker navigating through the thawing North Sea Route (NSR) shipping passage, on the northern fringes of Russia, West European plug-in passenger car registrations, including plug-in hybrids, already crashed past diesel-powered ICE cars for the first time earlier this year (August). With the EV route open and the acceptance of plug-ins growing, December was the turn of BEVs alone to plough past new diesel cars (inc. hybrids). BEVs accounted for one-fifth (20.4%) of the December new passenger car market across the 18 market West European region, while diesels managed less than 19%, according to Schmidt Automotive Research data.
Thanks to the annual end of year CO2 compliance shot in the arm, seeing an armada of struggling manufacturers late to the CO2 compliance game push EV models, as well as the usual fiscal changes in key markets (Netherlands), BEV volumes received the reliable end of year boost.
Consequently, almost every third new Nissan (30.3%) was a BEV in December, as well as every fourth (24.4%) Porsche.
That was accompanied by the end of quarter volume boost from Tesla (Dec: 34,747 units), surpassing Ford’s same month volumes (31,798), resulting in the W-European BEV market achieving a new monthly volume record (175,491: +6% y/y) in a total semiconductor constrained market (Dec: 860,948; -21.2% y/y).
While the diesel new passenger car market share peaked at 55.5% in 2011, according toSchmidt Automotive Research data, diesels downward trajectory was amplified in 2015 by dieselgate that sent shudders through European OEM headquarters’ that were betting on oil burners to guarantee a profitable route to new CO2 compliance targets, fast approaching on the horizon.
However, paradoxically the work of those Wolfsburg engineers might have been the aphrodisiac the electric car market was looking for, at more or less the same time when Tesla began polishing the blunt image of EVs.
With almost irreparable OEM images, marketing departments and strategists scrambled to find a fix.
The protagonist at the centre of the scandal, Volkswagen, had the first meeting to discuss the MEB/ID. Series vehicles within 30 days of VW AG’s ex-CEO Winterkorn’s face being strewn across the globe’s financial newspapers.
Following a four year development cycle, the MEB platform got from the drawing board to the start of production by autumn 2019.
Looking to the present day, it was VW Group that dominated the West European BEV passenger car market’s record year last year.
Out of the 1.190,741 new BEVs entering the 18 market region (+63.6% y/y), 297,155 came from VW Group stables.
While the total passenger car market fell to its lowest annual level in almost 40 years (10.6M), impacted by the semiconductor shortage, BEVs profited, accounting for 11.2% of full-year deliveries (2020: 6.7%).
OEMs with limited chips were keen to deliver only their most profitable models, balancing these with BEVs in order to remain CO2 compliant.
VW Group’s premium brands Bentley and Porsche both produced record global volumes last year, demonstrating where the funnel of chips was going.
However, with just two models, it was Tesla that took the number one BEV brand crown. The 166,500 deliveries from the 10-year old Elon Musk-headed company surpassed VW brand’s BEV volumes by 4,100 units.
With the European EV passage now open, it is unlikely to freeze over again and similar to the NSR passage, open for four months of the year, the same may be the case for BEVs surpassing diesels, for now – given those end of quarter Tesla bumps.
A total thawing where BEVs surpass all ICE volumes (>50% share) isn’t expected until the end of the decade though
AuthorAutomotive Analyst with 15 years of experience serving the highest-ranking executives and decision-makers in and around the industry
Member of @thefactory Berlin Automotive.