Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

2013, or Year Three for the Modern Age of Electric Cars, has been full of new EV launches and landmarks, so let's look at some of them:

Tesla Model S Tops Norway Car Ranking

We knew this would come eventually, but few expected to be so soon, and it wasn´t a freak event, because the Nissan Leaf also topped Norway's chart in October and in November the Outlander PHEV did it in the Netherlands.

Global Sales Continue to Grow

After a shaky start, EV sales have increased greatly in the second half of the year, with global sales expected to arrive near the 200.000 units barrier, 40% more than a year ago.

EV Heaven Starts with an "N"

"N" for Norway and "N" for Netherlands. Both were already ahead of the curve regarding plug-ins, but this year their respective EV Shares grew significantly, with Norway going from 3,12% in 2012 to 5,43% in November '13 and the Netherlands now at 3,50%, up from 1,10% in '12.

Other markets to grow significantly their EV Shares were Iceland (0,21% in '12 Vs 0,88% right now) and Hong Kong (0,42% in '13 Vs 0,21% last year), on the other hand, plug-ins had setbacks in Spain, Ireland  and Israel, if the first two can be attributed to problems in their economies, the case of Israel has to do with the Better Place failure, also one of the events of the year.

Tesla Keeps on Growing

Despite costing twice as more as the average electric car, the California-based manufacturer is among the best-selling brands in the market (20k units this year) AND it still has production constraints, 2014 will be an important chapter in Tesla's history because not only it will finally have a global distribution network, but it will also double production capacity of the Model S and introduce the Model X, a crossover that many has been expecting impatiently...

Outlander PHEV Ups and Downs

This year has been a Roller Coaster Ride for Mitsubishi, after a great start for the Outlander PHEV in the beginning of the year, leading the Japanese EV market in March, the battery problems that came after put it on a several months production drought that could have hurt their career forever.

Fortunately for Mitsubishi, consumers didn't runaway (Also because there aren't other SUV's with a plug) and waited for the production to resume, originating a long reservations list that Mitsu is now delivering and beating sales records.

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hits the Jackpot

Europeans love Station Wagons just like they love diesel engines, so Volvo put 2+2 together and in the end of 2012 came up with the V60 Plug-In Hybrid.

At first it was just another step (Like the C30 Electric was before) in the future electrification of their lineup, but then reservations started to arrive and they didn't stopped pouring in, even when production passed from 1.000 to 5.000 units, then the swedish carmaker realized the hit they had on their hands and started to sell it across Europe with good results.

Now they are talking in 10.000 units for 2014 and a new XC90 Plug-in by the end of the year...

Quo Vadis, Zoe?

Renault had big hopes for its Zoe, wanting to make it a sort of Euro-Taste-Leaf and hoping it would lead plug-in sales in the Old Continent.

Despite a promising first half of the year, as new competition joined the race and sales started to grow in the summer, Zoe's sales started to suffer, in November it was just #5 in Europe, the next months should see the BMW i3 and VW e-Up! gaining traction, and i suspect that the french hatch sales will be on the menu of those two...

The Germans are Coming!

Until recently, German manufacturers had a pretty conservative approach towards Electric Cars and Alternative Fuels in general, with the only production EV being the french-german Smart Fortwo ED, and even this had limited availability.

This year things changed, first Smart increased production of its electric version and actually started to sell it willingly, then Porsche (Panamera S E-Hybrid), BMW (i3) and VW (e-Up!) recently introduced their first production models, and with more to come next year (BMW i8, VW e-Golf, Audi A3 e-tron, MB B-Class ED, Porsche 918...), it looks that german carmakers will catch up other EV makers fast.


China still waiting in the sidelines  

With all the energy and pollution problems that the largest world economy has, one could expect that EV's would be a priority, only high import taxes, little consumer interest and domestic EV offer with limited appeal left the chinese plug-in market pretty much like last year, with sales hovering around 10.000 units/year and the little Chery QQ3 EV as the undisputed leader with half of the market.

The new additions (Roewe E50,  Springo EV) were flops, selling little more than a hundred units, while the promised gamechanger BYD Qin was successively postponed and went on sale just a few days ago. Could 2014 be any different? Let's hope so.

New Gen Hypercars grow a Plug

With the McLaren P1 in Geneva and Porsche 918 in Frankfurt ready for production, a new trend started to emerge in SportsCarLand: Electrification.

Besides the two above, there's also the hybrid Ferrari LaFerrari (Dumb name, awesome looks) and the soon-to-be-released BMW i8, along with others still-in-concept-car-form projects (Honda NSX, etc).

The reason for this? Yes, there is the matter of fuel consumption, but perhaps most importantly, it's a new way to increase power and a technological achievement that puts them ahead of the competition.


  1. EV sales in Ireland has suspiciously flummoxed. All of the amateurs in the Irish Times and so on call '13s 70% decrease in EV sales proof that they're a failure. The decrease is far steeper compared to the overall market.
    Oddly, Renault has almost disappeared, 3 Fluences sold compared to 66 in 2012. Mitsubishi only sold one (to ESB) in 2012 and Nissan only sold 43 LEAFs compared to 69 in 2012.
    Of course, those 2013 sales are inly up to date to November.

    I have only seen one 2013 Leaf Visia in Dublin. I've seen others sold in 2013 (131 and 132 registrations), but they looked indistinguishable from the 2011/12 models with its honeycomb 16" alloys.
    On top of a complete lack of awareness (Nissan only briefly advertising the LEAF in newspapers), I suspect two things:

    One, there may be little supply coming into Ireland, Norway's gobbling them all up.
    Two, there are a significant majority of 2011/12 LEAFs still on sale online and in dealers and potential drivers could be aware of the cheaper LEAF, thus avoiding the more expensive one that's out of date.
    Even to my surprise, despite the Nissan website advertising that there's a new LEAF, there's a "compiled a waiting list for the latest three models, which are not expected to be seen on Irish roads until early next year."


    I really doubt that it's the recession. The LEAF Visia costs just shy of €21,000 after government grant. Compared to a base VW Golf TDI 1.6l Bluemotion, that's shy under €24,000. The cheapest Hyundai i30 1.4l Diesel costs a shy €5 more than the LEAF Visia! Yet that's all you'll see on Dublin's roads. New Golfs and diesel eveything!

    No one knows about the LEAF. That's why. No one can name one electric car they know, not even Tesla, but they all know the name of the VW that their neighbour and friends have.

    EV Sales : http://www.beepbeep.ie/stats/?sYear%5B%5D=2013&sYear%5B%5D=2012&sRegType=1&sMonth%5B%5D=&sMonth%5B%5D=&sMake%5B%5D=Mitsubishi&sMake%5B%5D=Nissan&sMake%5B%5D=Renault&sRange%5B%5D=FLUENCE&sRange%5B%5D=I-MIEV&sRange%5B%5D=LEAF&x=34&y=4

  2. Thanks Offib for the interesting comment, it's sort of a "Looking for EV's in Ireland", i'll remind it when i'll post the Irish sales.

    Looking from the outside, Ireland seemed like one of those places where EV's would do well, an island, moderate climate, fiscal incentives...

    Still, consumers are not responding. A question of taste or lack of awareness?

  3. It is a nice environment for EVs. Rather proud than complaining. There are plenty of CHAdeMO chargers on the motorways, and more that'll too be fitted with the 43kW AC Rapid Charger that works on the Zoe. Most of standard chargers are 22kW or 32amps, so it's not exactly like it's prohibiting to travel.
    The weather is optimal too for EVs. Never too hot, never too cold. The coldest temperature this winter was 2 degrees Celsius (but they drop further in February and May).

    Talking to relatives, they chuckled and rolled their eyes when I ask about EVs. They didn't know one, how fast they charged, the difference in time between an 80% charge and 100% and guessed they cost €40,000. That they have a similar range of 80km on a good day, and that there's no infrastructure and that they don't want wait 15 minutes at a rapid charger in a petrol station with a cup of coffee or tea. That's after them being told that there was such a thing as a quick charge.

    Some concluding that EVs will never work here. But all in good humour.

    Though they described the G-Wiz, they only recalled of the Prius, and they assumed it had no usable range and that it was excessively small and costing very much too.
    It was like watching an episode of Top Gear!

    I'd say it's more than awareness, it's education outright.

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