Automotive: shunned plug-in hybrids, 100% electric at the party

Automotive: shunned plug-in hybrids, 100% electric at the party

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The European car market continued its electrification at full speed in the first quarter if figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) are to be believed. New electric cars thus represented 44% of sales compared to 35% the previous year. By contrast, internal combustion engines continue to fall: gasoline cars go from 41% to 36% of sales, while diesel engines only represent 17% of new cars (22% a year ago). In volumes, diesel fell by a third in the first quarter.

Stable plug-in hybrids

For its part, plug-in hybrids (PHEV) remain stable, around 9%. However, this technology is less and less favored by public subsidy schemes, while more and more environmental associations question its ecological efficiency. In addition, in volume they fell drastically (-5.3%).

In France, they benefit from a bonus reduced to 1,000 euros only, for models of less than 50,000 euros. In other words, all premium cars that achieved extremely high PHEV mixes (up to 80% of sales in the Volvo XC60, for example) are excluded from the system. Furthermore, this bonus is far from offsetting the additional cost of hybridization even for mid-range products. Thus, it is necessary to pay around 9,000 additional euros to acquire a Citroën C5 Aircross equipped with rechargeable hybridization.

The end of PHEV scheduled?

Also, a number of manufacturers now prefer to focus on normal fuel-saving hybridization in all situations (the PHEV is only effective if the batteries have been recharged). “In several markets, we see that hybrids are selling better than PHEVs,” explains a Renault executive who markets its E-Tech technology. “It’s our new diesel,” he says, speaking of a technology much cheaper than PHEVs. Only in Germany are plug-in hybrids still being sold, thanks to still-generous subsidies.

The 100% electric remain dynamic

For now, electric cars continue to be the most dynamic segment, heavily subsidized (up to 10,000 euros in some countries), favored by tax incentives, but also by increasingly restrictive regulations, both in CO2 targets and in access to the center of the cities. Public orders also support the movement. Even police forces are getting 100% electric cars.

The semiconductor crisis is also influencing the supply allocations of manufacturers trying to favor the most profitable vehicles or those most in line with regulatory objectives.

Result: 100% electric cars double their market share in Europe from 5 to 10% of sales in the first quarter. Pure hybrids have started a slight decline but still account for 21% of new registrations.

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