As manufacturers scrambled to meet EU (and Swiss) CO2 compliance levels with a last-minute registrations splash-and-dash in December, total xEV (BEV/PHEV) plug-in registrations exceeded 0.5 million units in the fourth quarter, as billed: 2020 lived up to its claim of being the first genuine year where EVs moved from the slow hanging fruit lane to the mainstream, narrowly missing this report's pre-COVID original forecast of 770,000 unit sales.
Annual registrations more than doubled from the previous year to 727,927 units, while PHEVs – another key strategic tool in meeting latest fleet average CO2 targets – saw volumes reach 606,466 units, combining to see West European xEVs surpass Chinese new plug-in passenger car registrations last year to become the world’s largest region for externally rechargeable passenger cars. Significantly, every eighth passenger car entering Western Europe’s roads last year (Q4 2020: 19.1% plug-in mix) was either a PHEV or BEV (2020: 12.4% plug-in mix).
According to company data, the pandemic’s grip on the global passenger car market, which recorded its lowest volumes since 1985, ironically led to BMW Group, PSA, Renault, and Daimler all meeting their CO2 compliance targets last year. Volkswagen Group, the Wolfsburg-based German company, reported that they fell short of their CO2 target by 0.5g/km. According to a business representative, it was most likely caused by the ID.3 (MEB) model’s delayed market debut, which was caused by software glitches that delayed client delivery.
Long hailed as the start of Europe’s shift away from ICEs and toward EVs due to the EU bloc’s CO2 laws effectively forcing auto manufactures hand, 2020 delivered, with every fourth new passenger car registration being a plug-in. As a result of the EU fleet average CO2 emissions targets only being phased in last year, with the poorest 5% from each fleet eliminated, momentum will be maintained in 2021, albeit at a somewhat lower growth rate.
Manufacturers’ complete fleet will count towards average fleet totals in 2021, as well as a decreased value of so-called super-credits on offer (if manufacturers have any of their limited 7.5g/km amount left, distributed over three years). Following the afternoon press preview event in 2020, the complete gala evening performance is scheduled for 2021. According to the research, BEV market penetration will reach 8.5% in 2021, equating to 1.045 million units in a recovering 12.3 million total West European passenger car market. With PHEVs added to the mix, which are critical in helping premium manufacturers reach compliance, the 2021 xEV market is expected to account for 15.5% of the market, or 1.907 million units.