While China is still celebrating the Year of the Ox, based on January figures, the European vehicle market may be celebrating the Year of the PHEV, following on from the Year of the BEV last year. With 2020 CO2 compliance substantially completed, owing in large part to the 2020 95% phase-in and full value of super-credits, 2021 will definitely witness an increase in xEV volumes to meet more stringent 2021 compliance requirements in a total passenger car market forecast to grow after a 35-year low last year.
While January BEV shipments increased by 19.7 percent over the same period last year, totaling 45,970 units (6% penetration), the month was likely impacted by reduced stockpiles following the previous month’s record volumes (165,600 units; 15.1% mix) as OEMs raced to meet EU CO2 compliance limits. Production facilities in the Christmas shutdown mode are also likely to have contributed to the low xEV inventory. In addition, important player Volkswagen apparently started the year by postponing MEB (ID.3/ID.4) deliveries (VW declined to comment on this) while a software problem was handled.
ID.3/ID.4 quantities are scheduled to return in March, with Volkswagen also confirming to this story that production levels at the Zwickau factory are now at an 800 per day rate. A number of significant fiscal reforms influenced markets such as the Netherlands and Spain in January.
Looking at the first month of the year in greater detail, luxury manufacturers betting on profitable PHEVs to satisfy CO2 compliance wasted no time in releasing their contentious semi-electric cars. To keep the gap between laboratory emissions and real-world emissions from widening, the European Commission began collecting data on real-world CO2 emissions and energy use using on-board fuel consumption monitoring devices in January. This most likely explains BMW’s decision to use many measures, such as compensating drivers who utilise the electric motor on a regular basis and implementing geofencing technology in specific cities. PHEVs have been criticised since they benefit from lower tax rates in several key markets without being required to charge the car.