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Europe’s Electric Cars Fiasco

Bertel Schmitt, Forbes

Sales of battery electric vehicles in Western Europe fell for the fourth month in a row, an analysis of a respected European industry publication says.

In August, a month in which the overall Western European new car market climbed 8%, sales of BEVs in the world’ second largest EV market behind China dropped 1.2% compared to August 2015, paid subscribers of the AID Newsletter were told. The harsh realities of EU registrations  cast a shadow on the EV euphoria of the Paris motor show, once again raising the question on auto executives’ minds: “Who will buy all those EVs?” Matthias Schmidt, editor of the UK-based publication, thinks he may have the answer: Push comes to shove, OEMs might buy their own cars.

In spite of electric car incentives doled out by some EU governments, “West Europe’s electric car sales share remains stuck at last year’s low level,” says the report. Even more worrisome “is the sudden speed at which Norway’s previously highly enthusiastic car buying public appears to be turning away from BEVs.”

After lavish Norwegian incentives for EVs were dialed back a few notches, Tesla’s marquee market folded its tent while customers switch to plug-in hybrids. Overall, the “gravitational pull from PHEVs” significantly lowered the trajectories of BEVs in the first eight months of the year, AID says.

Would it not be for France, the BEV market in the EU would look much worse. “The country’s €10,000 ‘superbonus’ for anyone willing to purchase a new electric car while scrapping an old diesel car, singlehandedly propped up West Europe’s otherwise weak and frail-looking electric car market,” the report says. Without France, and with it without the very strong showing of Renault’s batter-electric Zoe in its home market, the overall Western European BEV market would have dropped 6.1% in the first eight months, and 6.7% in August, AID calculated.

What about Tesla, you ask? Tesla’s eight month sales in Western Europe are down 21.4%, says the report. Due to the sudden availability of the Model X, Tesla’s August sales recorded a widely reported 53.6% pop in Norway.

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