The beginning of the end for plug-in hybrid cars?

While sales of electric vehicles fell slightly in June in the Old Continent (-8%), showing that the entire automotive industry is currently suffering, the situation for plug-in hybrids is even bleaker. . What if this is the beginning of the end for this technology?

The decline in sales in France and the main European markets

Looking at the sales numbers in detail, there is reason to ask about PHEV cars. While registrations of zero-emission models continue to rise by 28.7% since the beginning of the year in France, and all the same by 4.7% in the month of June alone (against the European trend, therefore), Sales of plug-in hybrids 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 noticed that the sales star, the Peugeot 3008, clearly suffered at the beginning of the year. Same disappointment for the relatively accessible Renault Captur (accessible for a PHEV model, of course). It’s simple, it’s only the electrified models whose volumes are decreasing, the “self-rechargeable” hybrid vehicles and micro-hybrids also increased by 7.2% in the first half. In addition, it is that the volumes remain low. Only 62,811 plug-in hybrid vehicles were registered, compared to 93,335 EVs… or the 289,622 100% petrol thermal models sold during the same period.

The situation is 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 every PHEV car sold while they are still neck and neck in 2019. In Spain, the mayonnaise is not taken at all. A worrying situation for an alternative energy that does not have time to really break through.

Top 10 best-selling plug-in hybrid models in 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 Captur: 1,862 units, -65.3%
  • MG EHS: 1,770 units, + 100.5%
  • Volvo XC40: 1,641 units, -39.4%

The reasons for this frustration are simple. First point, plug-in hybrid models have had a bad press lately. There are countless studies of all kinds (like this one from Switzerland) that cast doubt on their potential ecological arguments. They have been criticized for using too much unleaded or diesel (for rare diesel plug-in hybrids, a special Mercedes) in some situations. As our own measurements have shown, it is true that many “plug-in” cars do not need to boast of their consumption once the battery is empty. Their greater weight than non-rechargeable hybrids does not help, and some manufacturers do not hesitate to use PHEVs to lower their CO2 emissions and respect the quotas set by the EU because the number announced, usually flattering, obtained by fulfilling a weight. average between consumptions with an empty battery and that obtained with a full battery. Let’s not put all car brands in the same basket: Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Renault and Toyota have proven that it is possible to sell efficient plug-in hybrid cars in all conditions.

But also often, The main difficulty facing these cars today is the fact that, like thermal and hybrid models, they will no longer be allowed to be sold in 2035. When the governments of some States, including France, showed themselves in favor of the idea to protect at least plug-in hybrid cars, they withdrew at the last moment and confirmed the bill submitted in the European Parliament on 8 June. Their bad reputation tarnishes them. Indeed, from now on, what is the point of developing a technology that promises a disastrous future? It is better for manufacturers to focus on 100% electric models and they do not hesitate to talk about this topic to know it. This disinvestment vis-à-vis this technology is also felt at the States level. For example here in France where a recent decree now stipulates that the maximum CO2 bonus of €6,000 can only be given 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 superbonus because they emit less than 20 g/km and fall in the same range as electric cars, which benefit from their cycle. In short, the water has flowed under the bridge and it’s almost certain that PHEVs, which are no longer supposed to be sold, will no longer follow the same growth curve of 100% electric.

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