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

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

While sales of electric vehicles fell slightly in June on the Old Continent (-8%), indicating that the entire auto industry is currently suffering, the situation for plug-in hybrids is even worse. If this was already the beginning of the end of this technology?

Decline in sales in France and in major European markets

If you look closely at the sales figures, there is reason to ask questions about PHEV vehicles. While the registration of zero emission models has continued to increase by 28.7% since the beginning of the year in France, and equal to 4.7% in the month of June alone (against the European trend, so), sales of plug-in hybrids fell 12.5% ​​from January to June and 25.9% last month. A quick look at the list of the most popular PHEVs in our area and we see that the star of sales, the Peugeot 3008, has clearly suffered at the beginning of the year. A similar disappointment for the still relatively affordable Renault Captur (available in PHEV form, of course). It’s simple, these are the only electrified models whose volumes are declining, “self-charging” hybrids and mini-hybrids are also up 7.2% in the first half. What’s more, is that the volume remains low. Only 62,811 hybrids were registered, compared to 93,335 EVs… or 289,622 100% petrol models sold during the period.

The situation is quite similar in other major European markets, as indicated European Car News. In Germany, sales fell 16% in June. In the UK, 2 electric models sold for every PHEV sold were still neck and neck in 2019. In Spain, the mayonnaise never took off. Anxiety about renewable energy that hasn’t even had time to break even.

The top 10 best-selling plugin designs 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%
  • Citroen 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 disappointment are very simple. First, hybrid plug-in models have had some bad press lately. There are many studies of all kinds (like this one from Switzerland) questioning their possible ecological arguments. They are accused of using too much gasoline or diesel (for rare plug-in diesel hybrids, a Mercedes specialty) in certain situations. As our tests have already shown, it is true that most “plug-in” cars are not necessarily proud of their use once the battery is empty. Their greater weight than plug-in hybrids does not help, and some manufacturers have not hesitated to use PHEVs to reduce their CO2 emissions and respect the standards set by the EU because the advertised figures, often impressive, are obtained by applying weight. the average between the consumption of an empty battery and that obtained with a full battery. Let’s not put all car brands in one basket: Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Renault and Toyota have proven that it is possible to sell efficient hybrids in all conditions.

But also and more, The main difficulty facing these cars today is the fact that, like petrol and hybrid models, they will no longer be approved for sale in 2035. If the governments of some States, including France, showed themselves to support the idea of ​​protecting at least plug-in hybrid vehicles, they canceled at the last minute and legalized the bill presented by the European Parliament on June 8 last year. Their bad reputation got the better of them. In fact, from now on, what is the point of developing the technology that is promised for the future disaster? It is better for manufacturers to focus on 100% electric models and do not hesitate to talk about this topic so that it is known. This investment against this technology is also visible at the government level. For example here in France where a recent decree now states 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 a big bonus because they emitted less than 20 g/km and fell in the same range as electric cars, benefiting from their cycle. In short, water has flown under the bridge and it is almost certain that PHEVs, without necessarily being sold again, will no longer be able to follow the growth trend as 100% electric.