The US is no longer the top market for plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales — with the overall European market surpassing the American one for the first time, according to recent reports.
To be exact here, January–April 2015 saw European EV sales surge ahead of American ones by 60%. As a reminder here, when we say “plug-in electric vehicles,” we are referring to all-electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF or the Tesla Model S as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) like the Chevy Volt or the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In (pictured below).
Part of the surge in European sales seems to be due to the relatively high acceptance of PHEVs in the European market as compared to the American one. Here are the specifics on that count (via the European Automotive Industry Data newsletter): 51,386 plug-ins sold in Europe (24,578 PHEVs + 26,808 pure EVs); and 32,087 plug-ins sold in the US (10,684 PHEVs + 21,403 pure EVs).
Granted, part of the reason for the drop in PHEV sales in the US is that people are waiting for the 2016 Chevy Volt to be released. I’m expecting to see a pretty substantial surge in PHEV sales when that’s finally released. Chevy’s market is mostly just in the US, Europeans tend to go with local offerings over American ones (with some exceptions — Tesla, the Nissan LEAF, etc).
Another thing Europe has over the US with regards to PHEVs is that there are popular PHEV models on the European market that aren’t in the US — like the Outlander Plug-In (which is now the top-selling EV in Europe), Audi A3 e-Tron, and VW Golf GTE (pictured below).
Interesting numbers nonetheless. We’ll find out if the trend continues through the rest of this year.
Interestingly, the Chinese market has seen a similar trend toward PHEVs — where 27,405 PHEVs were sold during the same period, as compared to 16,138 EVs. Hmm… You can also see from those numbers that China is also ahead of the USA now, and just a bit behind Europe.