While it has been over four years since SpaceX launched an electric car into space, Western Europe's 18 region plug-in passenger car industry is about to take off. During the first ten months of this year, every fifth (19.2% mix) new car entering the region's roadways could recharge at a wall box. However, are the initial-thrust PHEV rockets that are assisting the market in gaining lift set to detach as the BEV payload proceeds into orbit?
In 2019, the first stage of the West European electric car launch sequence began, with BEV cars accounting for 2.5% of the entire new car market (every fortieth). While the script called for a ramp-up in 2020 to meet more stringent phased-in EU CO2 fleet emissions limits, the Tesla Model 3, which debuted in Europe in 2019, accounted for every fourth new BEV (27%/94,000 units) in the 354,000 market. Without this foresight, BEV penetration would have been as low as 1.8%. By 2020, the whole regional plug-in (BEV/PHEV) passenger car market had more than doubled in volume to 1.33 million (2020: 546,000), while the mix had tripled to 12.4%, up from 3.8% in 2019.
As PHEVs become a critical tool for premium OEMs to reach CO2 compliance, they contributed over 600,000 units (+213% y/y), while BEVs achieved an annual growth rate of half that (+106% y/y) to 728,000. However, those plug-in hybrid booster rockets appear to be steadily approaching maximum propulsion and may begin to separate from the BEV mothership. Although genuine underlying market circumstances are impossible to gauge at the moment because of the distorting semiconductor crisis, according to a recent VW Group presentation, slightly over one-in-five vehicles on the order books (180,000 out of 1 million) are BEV in the region.
According to the most current three-month data (Aug-Oct), BEVs (327,500) are now outnumbering PHEVs (226,000), outnumbering them by 100,000 units and moving one percentage point ahead over the previous 12-months (Nov 2020 – Oct 2021; BEVs: 10.3%, PHEV: 9.3%). Both plug-in types are likely to sell over one million units this year (Oct YTD; BEV: 886,000, PHEV: 839,000), pushing the overall plug-in market to more than two million (1-in-5 units in an 11M restricted supply market).