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Norway continues to lead the global electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) market, according to recent analysis by IHS Automotive, a global provider of critical information and insight to the automotive industry.

In first quarter 2015, Norway ranked first as measured by market share of EV and PHEV registrations in a given quarter for eight countries; with a staggering 33% of all new cars registered having an electric power-train.

With EV/PHEVs representing one third of new vehicles registered in Norway during the first quarter of this year, Norway leads the first quarter rankings with just over 8,000 units, and achieved a 41% increase in volume over the same period in 2014. According to the latest figures, the Volkswagen e-Golf was the dominant model among consumers in Norway during the first quarter of 2015.

The reasons for the country’s conversion to electric cars are many and include Norway’s huge Sovereign Wealth Fund which enable the Government to provide a number of tax breaks for EV owners. In addition, whereas high import taxes are levied on conventional cars, EVs are exempt; a huge financial incentive for protective EV buyers.

The Netherlands experienced the second largest growth in electric vehicle share in the first quarter of this year, with more than 5,700 units registered, representing 5.7% of the market during the quarter. The UK, however, has gained much ground in the past 12 month with a 390% surge in EV sales which now represent 1.2% (8,684) of the new car market.

In terms of absolute sales, the U.S. and China continue to lead all countries based on volumes of new EV/PHEVs registered during the quarter, with nearly 15,000 registrations in the U.S. and nearly 13,000 registrations in China.

“While the federal tax credit in the U.S. of up to $7,500 USD for plug-in electric vehicles is continuing to encourage sales across the country, the adoption of these vehicles has been uneven, as consumer consideration and choice has skewed in favour of states offering additional incentives, like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in California or Georgia’s Zero Emission Vehicle Tax Credit,” said Ben Scott, senior analyst at IHS Automotive.

Based on volume, the most popular EV/PHEV in the U.S. is the Tesla Model S. However, the market share for EV/PHEVs in the U.S. remains low, with these vehicles accounting for just 0.8% of the market during the quarter.

In China, government incentives available support EV and PHEV ownership. Between the first quarter last year and the same time frame this year, the number of EV/PHEV registrations in China rose by nearly 750%. However, these vehicles continue to represent a very small percentage of the overall market in China – just 0.3%, indicating that further incentives may need to be considered to increase consumer acceptance.

The most popular plug-in vehicle in Q1 2015 in China is the BYD Qin PHEV. The United Kingdom also had impressive growth of 392% for plug-in vehicles between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015.

Japan is the only country to have a negative year over year percentage change. This is likely due to some EV incentives ending between this period and Japanese consumer preference towards HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles without a plug) over PHEVs.

Next Green Car, IHS Automotive

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