Monday, February 15, 2021

Netherlands January 2021


Volvo XC40 PHEV wins January in reshuffled market

After the usual sales rush in the last days of 2020, one would imagine January would bring a big hangover for the local plugin market...But turns out, it hasn't, because it grew 40% YoY!

But the story is more nuanced than that, in the context of a falling market overall market (-21% YoY), remember, 12 months ago Covid hadn't yet disrupted the market (remember that long gone era?...), BEVs experienced in January the expected sales hangover (-34% YoY, to 1,336 units, or 3.8% market share), after a feverish end of the year, but the surprising fact of last month was the registration surge of PHEVs, that actually had their best January ever, with 3,347 units (or 9.5% market share), effectively beating the previous record of 2,099 units, set in January 2015, when the Netherlands were a PHEV paradise...Will we see plugin hybrids experience a ressurgence? 

The answer could be positive, because they are not influenced by incentive changes, unlike BEVs, the recent uptick from plugin hybrids comes from organic demand, so i wouldn't be surprised if they regained decent volumes in this market, and because the BEV Company Car Benefit in Kind reduction is being reduced every year, maybe because of that, some buyers are moving away from BEVs back into PHEVs? 

With this i am not saying that PHEVs will overshadow BEVs, because these last ones should continue to grow fast, possibly starting already in March, but what could happen is that both technologies will continue to grow throughout the year, at the expense of the other fuels.

And that is already visible in the January PEV Share (13.3%), because while it was lower than the 2020 mark, with 25% in the whole year (21% BEV), it held steady in the two-digit are, while almost doubling the share of 12 months ago (7.2% in Jan. '20). 

So, in a moment of weakness in the BEV field (-34% YoY), plugin hybrids rose to the occasion and allowed plugins to continue growing, leading to a BEV vs PHEV breakdown of 29% - 71%, but nevertheless, the important is that the market continues to be electrified. Fast.

With the EU's CO2 emission rules distorting the market, added to the effective sales hangover of a number of last year Best Sellers, it lead to a complete reshuffle of the Top 20, with the shock headline of a PHEV starting the year in the lead, with the Volvo XC40 PHEV beating the competition and winning the January trophy, ahead of a true armada of plugin hybrids, with this technology taking 15 of the Top 20 places, a stark contrast with the December table, when BEV had 19 representatives and PHEVs only managed to place the Renault Captur PHEV in the table...and in 20th.

Another proof that January registrations have more to do with allocation policies than actual demand and we shouldn't read much from it, is the fact that BMW and Volvo together have 9 models in the Top 13 spots, because both didn't needed to make make a year end rush to meet the CO2 emissions, they opted to delay late 2020 deliveries into 2021, allowing them to earn early points this year and take January's top spots, in some cases even with record scores, like are the cases of the BMW X3 PHEV (163 units), BMW 5-Series PHEV (107) and BMW X1 PHEV (102), with two other BMW's having their best scores in several years, with the 330e (169 units, best score since December 2016) and X5 PHEV (258 units, best score since December 2015), back when the Netherlands was in the Jurassic era a PHEV driven market.

Speaking of Dinosaurs...the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was 3rd last month, with 202 deliveries, while in #8 we have two surprising models, with the Ford Kuga PHEV delivering 117 units, so it seems Ford's SUV deliveries are starting to recover, while the Porsche Cayenne PHEV had its best score since December 2015, also with 117 registrations.

On the BEV side, the winner was the MG eZS EV, with 115 registrations, being the only all-electric model on the Top 10, as the remaining BEVs on the Top 20 were displaced to the last positions of the table, and while the faces of the #17 Kia Niro EV, #18 Polestar 2 and VW ID.4 aren't surprising to see in this Top 20, as they are expected to be Top 10 contenders this year, the Nissan Leaf showing up in #20 is something of a surprise, so the deep discounts are helping the veteran hatchback to recover some of its mojo.

With so many new models showing up, two famous models got kicked out of the table, with the Tesla Model 3 having just 14 deliveries and the VW ID.3 not much better, at 58. But do not worry, for different reasons, these poor performances are allocation-related  and both should jump to the top of the table in March.

Outside the Top 20, a mention to the landing of the BMW iX3 (57 units), while the other models shining were all plugin hybrids: 

- The hatchback-desguised-as-crossover Kia Xceed PHEV had a record 55 units;

- The Skoda Octavia PHEV ramp up continues, with the popular Czech model registering 62 units in January;

- Finally, the Mercedes GLE350e/de yacht registered 51 units last month, the big SUV best score since December 2015.

In the manufacturers ranking, BMW started the year in the lead, with 17% share, closely followed by Volvo (16%), while a distant Kia (5%) closed the podium, ahead of Mitsubishi (4%) and Mercedes, also with 4% share.


  1. BEVs are low because of incentive reduction and self-registrations in December.
    PHEVs have an advantage over ICE as PHEVs have no CO2 registration penalty.
    For ICE SUVs penalty can reach 10,000 Euro easily.
    Even small City ICE have to pay registration penalty of 1000 to 2000 Euro.

    1. Are PHEVs exempted in general? Or do they simply get absurdly unrealistic CO2 savings assumptions (like for the EU fleet emission targets), so they just fall below the penalty threshold?...

    2. Also, is this new?

    3. @Antrik
      No it's not new.
      Here is some information how to calculate it.

    4. Thanks.

      So it does indeed use the WLTP emission figures, which are completely absurd for PHEVs; but uses a different calculation based on them, that *slightly* reduces the disconnect... Yet still gives PHEVs almost a free pass :-(

      On the other hand, with smaller (relatively frugal) combustion cars, the surcharge isn't all that large to begin with -- so this mostly just affects large SUVs. I guess that's why we don't see PHEVs doing even better in this market...

    5. @antrik
      Please consider that the Dutch system appears to be one of the most effective for the transition to cars with a plug.
      In my opinion it is too harsh for people with little money.

    6. No, it's not harsh enough. Combustion cars need to be priced out of the market -- like in Norway. People who can't afford an EV have no business buying a new car at all.

    7. @antrik
      ... right, but unlike Norway that CAN KEEP selling oil and a few other comodities to foreigners to earn for their living, Netherlands is just freely selling cannabis&the like and naked-woman-on-a-window... or flowers and cheese.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Second Tesla shipment of the year to Europe arrives today!

  4. Maarten VinkhuyzenFebruary 16, 2021

    The reason for the surge in PHEV is the inability of WLTP to produce a realistic gram CO2 per kilometer figure.
    The WLTP number is mostly between a half and a third of the real world use number. For some PHEV it is even worse.

    The push back from environmental conscious groups and politicians is growing. Not only in the Netherlands, but all over Europe.

    When this get corrected, it will be the end of PHEV. The carmakers (and markets) will switch to zero emission vehicles.

    1. Unfortunately, the auto lobbies will be fighting any corrections to this like there life depends on it -- which it does... So, at least in the major auto-making nations -- which are all the big ones -- we likely won't be seeing any significant changes for years :-(

    2. Solution will be range extender EVs like Mazda MX-30 with 200km pure electric range + rotary engine for Range extension.

    3. A few models coming with somewhat more usable all-electric range won't magically change the fact that many PHEV buyers -- especially fleet buyers -- only get them for the subsidies, with no intention of ever charging them. It's not a solution to the problem at hand, of PHEVs defeating emission mandates and leeching subsidies...

      More generally, it's mostly a solution looking for a problem at this point, with various affordable long-range BEVs being available now.

  5. Third Tesla shipment of the year to Europe arrives today!

    1. Glovis Century -- but it was actually the fourth one already...