Navigant Research estimates that plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales in 2014 surpassed 320,000, 60% above 2013 sales. The U.S. market accounts for over one-third of all sales; however, the largest growth has come from China, with 2014 sales estimated to have nearly quintupled those in 2013. The biggest developments of 2014 were BYD’s introduction of the Qin and BMW’s global introductions of the i3 and i8. The two automakers, which combined only accounted for about 2% of the global market in 2013, now account for more than 10%. Although 2014 wound up being a good year for the PEV market, with double to triple-digit growth in every major region, 2015 will be far better.
In Navigant Research’s report, Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts, we forecast that PEV sales in 2015 will surpass 570,000, growing nearly 80% from 2014. The U.S. market, which grew around 30% in 2014, is expected to grow by more than 70% in 2015. Similar gains will likely be made in China and Europe. The bump in 2015 comes from the introduction of Tesla’s next vehicle, the Model X, alongside a number of new PEV models, primarily from Volkswagen (VW).
Likely the most significant development in 2015 will be the dramatic expansion of VW’s PEV market share. VW has been slow to enter the PEV market, but it is now one of the largest players. Eight PEV models (six plug-in hybrid electric vehicles [PHEVs] and two battery electric vehicles [BEVs]) are available in various regions through different brands: VW (two PHEVs, two BEVs), Audi (one PHEV), and Porsche (three PHEVs). In 2013, VW accounted for less than 1% of the global PEV market; in 2015, Navigant Research expects the automaker to account for 10%. This will likely make VW, along with Mitsubishi, the third-largest PEV maker, behind Nissan and Tesla.
PEV Market Share, World Markets: 2015
(Source: Navigant Research)
The German Wave
Further strengthening VW’s position in the PEV space are its plans to roll out even more PEV adaptations to existing luxury vehicle model lines from Audi, Porsche, and Bentley to compete against Tesla. Navigant Research believes that VW is likely to overtake Nissan in 2017, but still trail Tesla.
VW’s broad adoption of PEVs is similar to the strategies of other German automakers, including BMW and Daimler. These types of commitments are uncommon in Japan and the United States, where major automakers, besides Nissan, have been hesitant to enter the PEV market in force. The net effect of this trend could produce a PEV industry synonymous with German engineering, not unlike Japan’s preeminence with hybrids.