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November European Electric Car Market Study Preview – Chip shortage boosts BEV mix to >10% this year


Key points:

  • Combined plug-in new registrations reached a record 27.9% mix of all new car registrations across Western Europe in November

  • Every fifth new car (19.9%) across Western Europe during 2021 (Jan-Nov) was either a pure electric car or a plug-in hybrid

  • BEVs continue to march away from PHEVs... 90,000 units separate both plug-in derivatives with that gap expected to finish above 100,000 by the end of the year. During the past three months BEVs volumes were 126K greater than PHEVs alone having played catch-up following a slow start to the year.

  • Tesla set to finish the year as the number one BEV brand ahead of the Volkswagen brand, while VW Group with around 300,000 is forecast to finish over 100,000 units ahead of the US brand.

  • SUVs still dominate with 41% mix of all BEVs volumes this year however the Tesla Model 3 dominated Near-Executive sector is about to get a boost from the third model to join the sector alongside Polestar's 2... BMW's i4 (you can be forgiven for being confused with the model designation numbers)

  • Chinese OEMs account for 4% of the West European BEV market... SAIC dominate through their MG brand but there are more new entrants waiting in the wings. Japanese OEMs, which includes the once all conquering Nissan Leaf are now just 0.4ppts ahead with one month of the year remaining.


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Tell a German just two years ago that by the end of 2021, every fortieth car on its roads (Parc) will be a plug-in, or even more impressively, every fourth new car (Nov 2021 YTD PEV mix: 25.1%) would be fitted with a plug (BEV/PHEV) you would likely have been asked if you had just returned from a Christmas market glühwein stand.

While the total West European passenger car market barely got out of first gear this year (12-month rolling passenger car market: 10.85M), due to the semiconductor crisis – it is likely to finish the year with unchanged sales over pandemic hit 2020 (10.80M) – the plug-in market has been the principal benefactor.

High purchase and fiscal stimuli for plug-ins, and paradoxically, OEMs concentrating on higher emitting profitable models that have to be compensated for by lower-emitting plug-ins kept PEV production lines turning, while others stuttered.

Now add Tesla models to the equation, and the advantage of being a vertically integrated company that allowed them to navigate stormy seas by quickly reprogramming available chips, and the regional plug-in market was running at almost a full charge.

Tesla's high volume supply made it particularly attractive to German leasing companies, happy to offer breathtaking rates (€299pm for a Model 3 in Germany via ADAC), with the German government covering the deposit thanks to subsidies.

This contributed to Tesla's share of the total West European passenger car market approaching 2 per cent this year, sandwiched between JLR and Volvo Cars.

Look at current BEV volumes from a different perspective however, and they are there or thereabouts where this study forecast them to be at the start of the year, finishing 2021 at just under 1.2 million units.

In January, this report forecast levels to end 2021 at 1.05 million.

However, look at the change in BEV penetration, and the difference is stark.

Forecasting a mix of just 8.5 per cent in January in a 12.3 million market for the entire year, the market will end the year with a mix closer to 11 per cent.

The deciding factor is the continued semiconductor downward pressure on passenger car production, causing the supply-side shortage, forcing OEMs to use their limited chips in their lower volume and most profitable models.

This has to be compensated for with EVs in order to comply with CO2 legislation. If the volumes we witness by the end of this year are factored into a standard 14.2 million regional new car market, BEV penetration would be only around 8 per cent.

This suggests, what appears to be an early take-off for BEVs, could well lose some of that initial thrust once the semiconductor supply returns, expected during H2 2022 at the earliest.

With a narrow window until 2025 where OEMs can splash profitable ICEs onto the market with just a comparative handful of plug-ins to meet relatively straightforward CO2 goals (mass-adjusted 95g/km NEDC), manufacturers are likely hoping the semiconductor situation eases.

This would give them enough opportunity to push their fossil fuel burners before legislation tightens again.

The push from the ICE models to finance the transition post-2025 is a key part of their business models. Once we see a return to normality from chip suppliers, BEV penetration growth is expected to slow once again, with long waiting lists for BEVs expected again.

However, if manufacturers kick that can too far down the road, there are several Chinese OEMs (BYD, Geely Nio, Xpeng, GWM, SAIC) waiting to pounce with Sino-OEMs already accounting for almost every twentieth new BEV in the region this year (4% mix).

Plus the market has likely learned the lesson from underestimating Tesla's market entrance, with some OEMs happily holding for door open.?

The European Electric Study (19 pages) is published on a monthly basis and covers the entire West European region in a detailed data-driven manner.


May also interest you: October Study preview: PHEV booster rockets begin separation from BEV payload... New BEV passenger car registration volumes begin pulling away from PHEVs click here for the story


*Western Europe 18 Markets: EU Member States prior to the 2004 enlargement plus EFTA markets Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, plus UK


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