While sales of electric vehicles fell slightly in June in the Old Continent (-8%), which shows that the entire automobile industry is suffering at the moment, the situation for plug-in hybrids is much more bleak. What if this was already the beginning of the end of this technology?
Fall in sales in France and in the main European markets
Looking closely at the sales figures, there are indeed reasons to ask questions about PHEV cars. Although the immatriculations of zero emission models continued to progress by 28.7% after the debut of the year in France, and tout de même of 4.7% sur le seul mois de juin (à rebours de la tendance européenne, Then), Plug-in hybrid sales fell 12.5% from January to June and 25.9% last month. A quick look at the ranking of the most popular PHEVs in our territory and we realize that the sales star, the Peugeot 3008, has clearly suffered this beginning of the year. Same disappointment for the still relatively affordable Renault Captur (affordable for a PHEV model, of course). It’s simple, these are the only electrified models whose volumes are declining, “self-recharging” hybrid and micro-hybrid vehicles also grow by 7.2% in the first half. What’s more, is that the volumes remain low. Only 62,811 plug-in hybrid cars were registered, compared to 93,335 EVs… or 289,622 100% gasoline thermal models sold in the same period.
The situation is quite similar in other major European markets, as Automotive News Europe points out. In Germany, sales fell 16% in June. In the United Kingdom, 2 electric models are sold for each PHEV vehicle sold while they were still side by side in 2019. In Spain, mayonnaise was never taken. A worrying situation for an alternative energy that has not even had time to break through.
The 10 best-selling plug-in hybrid models during the first 6 months of the year in France
- Peugeot 3008: 6,461 copies, -30.8%
- Peugeot 308: 3,747 copies, –
- Mercedes GLC: 3,232 copies, +19.4%
- Citroën C5 Aircross: 3,231 copies, -18.1%
- DS 7 Crossback: 2,282 copies, -26.2%
- Hyundai Tucson: 1,983 copies + 38.6%
- BMW X3: 1,884 units, +95.2%
- Renault Capture: 1,862 units, -65.3%
- MG EHS: 1,770 units, +100.5%
- Volvo XC40: 1,641 units, -39.4%
The reasons for this disappointment are quite simple. First point, plug-in hybrid models have had some bad press lately. There are countless studies of all kinds (such as this one from Switzerland) that question their possible ecological arguments. They are criticized for using too much unleaded or diesel fuel (for the rare diesel plug-in hybrids, a Mercedes specialty) in certain situations. As our own measurements have already shown, it is true that many “plug-in” cars do not have to boast about their consumption once the battery is depleted. Its greater weight compared to non-rechargeable hybrids does not help, and some manufacturers have not hesitated to use PHEVs to lower their CO2 emissions and respect the quotas set by the EU because the figures announced, often flattering, are obtained by weighing average between the consumption of the empty battery and those obtained with the full battery. Let’s not put all car brands in the same basket: Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Renault and Toyota have shown that it is possible to market efficient plug-in hybrid cars in all circumstances.
But also and above all, The main difficulty facing these cars today is that, like the thermal and hybrid models, they will no longer be authorized for sale in 2035. If the governments of certain States, including France, had been in favor of the idea of safeguarding at least plug-in hybrid cars, they retracted at the last moment and validated the bill presented by the European Parliament on June 8. Their bad reputation haunted them. In fact, from now on, what is the use of developing a technology that promises a disastrous future? It is better that the manufacturers focus on 100% electric models and do not hesitate to speak on this subject to make it known. This disinvestment in the face of this technology is also felt at the state level. Example here in France, where a recent decree now stipulates that the maximum CO2 bonus of €6,000 can only be granted to cars “whose carbon dioxide emission rate is equal to 0 grams per kilometer”. Before that, some plug-in hybrid cars were eligible for the super bonus because they emitted less than 20g/km and fell in the same range as electric cars, benefiting from their cycle. In short, the water has run under the bridge and it is almost certain that PHEVs, without necessarily stopping being sold, will never again be able to follow the same growth curve as 100% electric ones.
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