Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 in Review (Updated)

2015, also known as  Year Five of the Modern Age of Electric Cars is about to end, so i took the time to review some of the most important facts this year:

Song PHEV: Next Best-Seller for BYD?

BYD Becomes Number One 

The Chinese brand progression in the last couple of years has been impressive, from #11 in 2013, with less than 3.000 units delivered, BYD has becomed the undisputed Best Selling manufacturer in the World!

After rising to #7 (And 18k sales) in 2014, thanks to the Qin performance, BYD was simply irresistible this year: Fourth in January, Third in June, Second in July, and finally first in October.

The model diversification (Tang, e5, etc) occurred in the second half of the year, not only contributed to win the Best Selling Manufacturer title, but it also tripled sales YoY, will they be able to keep up with this booming trend in 2016?

Even if they can't, this extraordinary performance places the chinese carmaker as one of the top players for 2016, along with Nissan, Tesla or Volkswagen.

A differentiating feature of BYD is also the global in-house approach to batteries, instead of sub-contracting them to a battery supplier, they are made in-house, not only for their cars, but also for e-buses (6.000 delivered in 2015), forklifts, storage utilities, etc.

Basically you can say that this Chinese company is the opposite of a regular plug-in automaker: For BYD, batteries are the core product, while the rest of the car is just a a by-product... 

China is Rising - Second Chapter

2015 was Year Two for the Chinese EV market, with foreign makers still neglecting the Chinese EV market, where the local brands have 95% of this booming market to themselves, this allowed the Chinese EV makers global share to rise from 6% in 2013, to 17% in the following year, to 31% in 2015, with China becoming the largest EV Maker in the world and also the largest market for plug-ins globally.

The EV Share in China is now at 0.9%, an impressive improvement over the 0.24% of 2014 and above markets like the USA or Germany, with these indications, 2016 will surely break the 1% barrier, maybe even reaching 1.5%.

If BYD and Kandi are frequently mentioned here, others are also contributing for this unstoppable wave, like Zotye (#9 in the manufacturers ranking), BAIC (#12), Chery (#13) or SAIC (#15).

An interesting trend is the steady climb of chinese cars in the global ranking, if in 2013 the best positioned chinese model was outside the Top 10 (#11 - Chery QQ3 EV), in the following year there were two (#7 - BYD Qin & #10 - Kandi EV) in the Top 10, and 2015 will probably witness four models in the Best Sellers ranking (#4 - BYD Qin; #6 - Kandi Panda EV; #9 -  BAIC E-Series EV; #10 - BYD Tang).

Expect for 2016 to reinforce this trend...

Model S Excels

Although the Model X is currently filling the headlines for Tesla, the Model S has done 99,99% of the heavy lifting for the Fremont-based automaker, and despite costing twice as much as the rest of the EV competition, it has become the Best Selling EV this year!

Here are two impressive facts:

- Deliveries have constantly increased over each year, so sales haven't yet peaked *;

* - 2012 (2.650 deliveries), 2013 (22.477), 2014 (31.655), 2015 (45.000 est.)

- To date, it was the only plug-in car that has consistently sold in the same league of their ICE class best sellers, managing even to outsell them in some markets (Norway, Switzerland, Denmark...).

Volkswagen I - Das (Plug-In) Auto

The German automaker ended 2014 in a discrete #11 in the EV manufacturers ranking and #6 in Europe, a poor showing for the largest auto manufacturer in Europe and one of the largest in the World.

Fast Forward two months to February '15 and things were looking very different, with the heat pumped e-Golf and Golf GTE tandem in full swing, the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer was leader in Europe and #4 worldwide.

Throughout the following months, VW kept leading the way in several top Markets (Norway, Netherlands...) and discussing with Mitsubishi the European Leadership, while on a global level, it had dropped one position, staying firm in Fifth.

By the time the IAA Expo opened in September, prospects were good for VW's plug-in plans, despite not pushing their sales effort, they had stabilized the leadership in Europe, the Fifth Place was also secure on a global level, and with the all-important Passat GTE coming soon, it looked that the slow but steady approach to EV's was working, and somewhere in the future, the automaker would be ready to lead the transition to electric without hurting too much their profits...

Volkswagen II - Das Diesel Gate

...And then all hell broke loose with the diesel emissions scandal in the US, in a midst of a media-nightmare, VW heads decided that going electric was a media-friendly way to surpass the crisis, so they announced a number of EV models for the future.

Unlike their regular ICE car sales, VW plug-ins weren't affected by the scandal, keeping in line with longer term trends, like the sinking of the VW e-Up! (Down to ten positions to #16 in Europe), the solid performances from the Golf GTE and e-Golf, and the incoming success of the Passat GTE, already the best selling model of its class in November.

German Automakers finally warm up to Plug-ins

Following on the success of the BMW i sub-brand, VW's Dieselgate and Tesla's increasingly larger appetite for premium customers, German automakers joined the EV bandwagon with both feet this year, creating plug-in (hybrid) versions of regular ICE cars and selling them as expensive options for early adopters / compliance markets:

- After the BMW i-line models, the German automaker launched the X5 PHEV version, which has received a positive welcome from consumers, already beating the i3 in some markets as the best selling BMW Plug-in, a positive sign for the upcoming 225xe Active Tourer and 330e;

- The Audi A3 e-Tron has found success in Europe, reaching #7 this year and looking to replicate the success in North America in 2016;

- Mercedes has now four(!) Plug-in models on sale, with sales increasing every month, mostly thanks to the runaway success of the C350e, with an extended waiting list, this is one carmaker that could sell even more if it wanted to;

- Regarding the other two german auto manufacturers present, Smart lost 33% of sales YoY, still waiting for the new Fortwo / Fourfour model, while Porsche is comfortably managing their leadership position in the upper-end of the Premium segment;

- The GM-adopted Opel Ampera has ended its career, and because Opel was denied for a Ampera II model, it has to wait for the Bolt-based model to be available in 2017;

- German automakers Global Share almost doubled, from 11% in 2014, to 20% in 2015, with Volkswagen (7% Share) surpassing BMW (6%) as the major Teutonic EV maker, with Audi in Third, with 2% share, Mercedes in Fourth (2%), followed by Porsche (1%) and Smart (1%).

Global Sales Continue to Grow

After a slower start, EV sales have increased greatly towards the second half of this year, with the last quarter above the 50k sales/month, with global sales now expected to surpass the 500.000 units barrier, after the 140k of 2012, low-200k in 2013 and 320k in 2014, looking back, the initial forecast of 400k units this year now looks a bit conservative.

Growth Is All Around

While Norway continues to be the poster-child for EV Share (23%!) and China the King of Volume (Over 100.000 units more than in 2014!), others are also making themselves noted, like The Netherlands, growing from one year to the other in an astounding way (15k in '14 vs 35-40k in '15), France (1.37% Share in '15 vs 0,91% in '14), Switzerland (2.00% vs 0.75%), Hong Kong (2.57% vs 0.47%) and the UK (1.03% vs 0.56%), while several countries in the Scandinavian region, probably inspired by the Norwegian case-study, are growing at surprising rates and reaching high market shares, like Sweden (2.23%), Iceland (2.80%) on Denmark (1,64%).

Other markets finally had their Year One in 2015, like South Korea (0,14% in 2015 vs 0,08% in '14), the Czech Republic (0,18% vs 0,04%), Slovenia (0,18% vs 0,05%) or Ukraine (0.98% vs virtually zero), while others have rebounded into the righteous path, like Portugal (0,64% in '15 vs 0,25% in '14).

Slowing markets were just a few this year, with the largest of them being the USA and Japan, while the Latvian and Estonian markets simply imploded, dropping from a few hundred units a year lo less than fifty. 

Also of importance is the dissemination of plug-ins by countries not associated with EV's, like South Africa (Currently in Year Zero, with some 250 units), Mexico (Ditto, 350 sales), Colombia (211 Twizzies registered!), Taiwan (92 EV's registered in 2015), Malaysia (30), Malta (27), Chile (25) or Tahiti (22 Twizzies).

Year Zero for Fuel Cells  

Retail sales finally started for the Toyota Mirai, but in limited numbers, with the total volume of sales around 500/600 units globally, divided by the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai ix35/Tucson FCEV, with the first outselling the second in an order of  4 to 1.

2015, Year of the PHEV SUV 

Despite contrary predictions, pure electrics cars managed to hold on the majority of sales, mostly thanks to Tesla, with Plug-in Hybrids recovering only 2% share, to 40%.

This year, (PH)EV's spreaded across several segments, with two of them receiving new models, almost at once:

- Luxury SUV's (0% in '14, 2% this year) saw the arrival en force of the BMW X5 PHEV, the Volvo XC90 PHEV has finally started to fulfill a really high waiting list, while the Tesla Model X, Mercedes GLE500e and Audi Q7 e-Tron are still to arrive in significant numbers;

- The Midsize class (D-Segment, in Europe) has seen the arrival of the hot Mercedes C350e, but an even hotter model has arrived in the end of 2015, the VW Passat GTE, which promises to be a market leader in Europe, and with the BMW 330e bound to land soon, this class will surely grow fast in 2016.


  1. Jose, you forgot the largest slowing market, the US which also lost its volume #1 spot to China!

    Also, when talking up BYD it's worth mentioning its dominant global position in e-Buses (6,000 delivered this year per a recent insideevs article), as well as 5,000 e6(?) taxis delivered in China, which I believe seem to be outside the count of passenger cars.

    1. Thanks for the input Assaf, i have updated the article.

  2. Tesla mange to deliver over 50000 cars in 2015.

  3. Hi, Jose
    May I ask you,
    Where did you get information about Ukraine?
    According to your figures almost every 100-th car sold in Ukraine was electric.
    I think it is too much compared to other countries.
    Thanks in advance.