As West-European new plug-in passenger car registrations approach one-in-ten this year (9.1% Aug YTD, with a near-even split between PHEV and BEVs, contributing to the race to 2020 EU CO2 compliance), the market is expected to quietly pick-up the pace this September, while heading towards 1 million combined units in an 11 million market this year. With a second COVID wave on the horizon and the possibility of more lock-downs, the market was boosted in August by manufacturers who are late to the CO2 compliance game, with the finish line possibly arriving sooner than expected.
As a result – and somewhat unexpectedly – Volkswagen Group announced in September a form of CO2 “hedging” by opening up its CO2 pool for 2020 membership until the end of October, while also announcing that Chinese joint venture partners, SAIC, under its MG brand have joined. MG had a relatively successful year, with BEV volumes exceeding those of Jaguar, Mercedes, and KODA.
It remains to be seen whether Daimler, which saw every fifth domestic German Mercedes delivered with a plug in August, will meet its CO2 target if the 2020 checkered flag falls earlier than expected. Mercedes’ August German plug-in volume was led by its Golf-sized Lower-Middle-Sector A-Class PHEV (1,939 units, according to KBA data), which accounted for 40% of all German A-Class deliveries. This contributed to the A-German Class’s CO2 average falling below 100g/km (WLTP) in August, well below the fleet average target of around 121g/km (95g/km NEDC-BT) in the same cycle.
Furthermore, the model qualifies for super-credits, which will help Daimler meet its phased-in 2020 CO2 target even more, though credits are limited to 7.5g/km until 2023. However, given the possibility of a second lock-down, Daimler may choose to “hedge” in the same way. Its Chinese Geely partner (Volvo/Polestar/Lynk&Co) could be a candidate. Volvo had the most regional PHEV registrations (43,800) up to September, accounting for more than one-fourth of the Sino-Swedish brand’s total this year.
In terms of market development, Germany saw its overall BEV volumes effectively double that of Norway little under a year ago, when it eclipsed the Nordic champion to become the greatest volume regional market. Germany’s rolling 12-month total up to August almost missed 100,000 units, reaching 98,450 units. This yet-to-be-attained milestone in Europe is almost certain to be reached in the months leading up to September. German volumes have also surpassed those of the Californian market. After six months, Germany was only 1,300 units behind Tesla’s home state.