Fossil Fuel Vehicles Plummet 40% In Sweden As EVs Triple To Over 30% Market Share

February 7th, 2020 by Dr. Maximilian Holland, Clean Technica 

January saw fossil fuel passenger vehicle sales plummet in Sweden by almost 40% year on year, with diesels more than halved, as plug-in vehicle market share climbed to over 30%. Sweden’s auto industry organization expects 30% to be maintained through the full year of 2020.

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The largest share of the EV mix went to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), with 23.1% of the overall market, whilst pure battery electrics (BEVs) picked up 7.1%. Diesels dropped precipitously from January 2019’s 8,113 sales to just 3,840 in January 2020, resulting in a 21.6% market share.

The jump in EV sales comes in the first month of a recalibrated bonus-malus incentive system for vehicle emissions (with tax increases for polluters), and as the new Europe-wide COrules come into force. Vehicles with COemissions from zero to 70 g/km can receive a sliding scale of up to ~5700€ in incentives in Sweden, and vehicles with emissions above 95 g/km pay additional yearly taxes. A diesel vehicle emitting 122 g/km (the country’s 2018 average) costs ~425€ per year in taxes. A sports car with 225 g/km (e.g., the Porsche 911) costs ~1250€ per year.

Kia Niro EV. Image courtesy Kia.

Top selling EV models in January included the Kia Niro EV, Renault Zoe, and Kia Soul EV (all BEVs) as well as the VW Passat GTE, Kia Optima PHEV, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (all PHEVs), according to industry body BIL Sweden. The Tesla Model 3, Sweden’s top selling BEV in 2019, has yet to see 2020 shipments arrive in the country.

VW Passat GTE. Image courtesy VW.

Sweden’s industry association expects the full year 2020 EV market share to be around 30%, up from the previous record result of 11% in 2019. In 2021, the share is predicted to rise to 40%:

“The background to our forecast of a 30% share of rechargeable cars this year and 40% next year is a sharp increase in the supply of rechargeable cars in different price ranges and in the different segments.” —BIL Sweden CEO, Mattias Bergman

It took Norway 4½ years to get from 11% EV market share to 40%. Now that ever greater varieties of ever more affordable EVs are coming available, Sweden will travel the same journey in just two years. It won’t be long before we start seeing peak months where EV sales overtake combustion vehicles.

Even the largest European markets are now starting to transition quickly. We’ve seen France hit 11% this January, Germany hit 6.5%, and the UK hit 5.9%. Adding Spain and Italy to the tally, Europe’s big 5 markets are already at 6% EV share. Midsized markets like the Netherlands, Denmark, and Portugal are higher still.

Overall, Europe as a whole looks set to easily breeze past 5% EV market share this year and perhaps end up closer to 10%. What do you think? Please jump into the comments and share your thoughts. 


UK Fossil Vehicle Sales Tumble By 18% As EVs Triple To 6% Market Share

February 7th, 2020 by Dr. Maximilian Holland 

UK combustion vehicle sales fell 18% year on year in January as plug-in electric vehicles took almost 6% of the market, up from 2.2% a year ago. Diesel sales were hit particularly hard, selling 36% less volume than January 2019. Will the UK government’s recent target of phasing out combustion vehicles by 2035 be overtaken by consumer preferences?

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The UK EV mix in January was well balanced between full electrics (2.7%) and plug-in hybrids (3.2%). The growth in EV market share occurred despite last year’s top selling EV, the Tesla Model 3, not yet having been shipped to the UK for 2020 sales.

In fact, without the Model 3 being available in any volume, no individual EV entered the top ten best selling UK autos in January. The Model 3 has frequently been in the UK top 10 list in recent months, hitting #3 in August.

On the other hand, the fact that the EV market share was still strong despite no individual model being sold in very high volume last month suggests that a broad mix of EV models supported the category result. The market is maturing.

MG Motors noted that the ZS EV was the brand’s overall best selling UK model in January, giving MG its highest ever monthly sales (1,846 brand sales in total), but MG Motors didn’t provide specific numbers for the increasingly popular EV.

MG ZS EV. Image courtesy MG press images

Traditional hybrids and mild hybrids also saw a good boost of sales in January, progress that’s visible in the above chart (“Hybrids”), but we don’t count these as EVs, since they ultimately get all of their energy from fossil combustion, and associated pollution. Hybrids without plugs are largely a temporary stop-gap to slightly reduce business-as-usual emissions, and prolong the life of combustion engine technologies.

Their growth this year will help the non-plug-in fleet’s average consumption get closer to the 95 g/km overall CO2 target for 2020. However, as emissions targets tighten further throughout this decade, only plug-in vehicles that can cover average commuting distances (around ~50 km / ~30 miles) on pure electric power will suffice. This is especially the case with the WLTP and RDE emissions tests now active, as these are based on a ≥48 km mixed driving cycle.

We’ve just seen FranceNorway, and Germany delivering record EV performances in January, with Sweden, Spain, Italy, and other European regions also making giant strides. Europe as a whole looks likely to have achieved around ~8% EV market share in January. We’ll know more once all the registration numbers are in.

The UK was at 3.1% EV market share for 2019 as a whole, but hitting 6.3% in December and maintaining almost 6% in January, it looks like things have stepped up a notch. The market is potentially closing in on 10% monthly market share result at some point later this year. Based on reliable adoption trajectories from leading EV nations, that will keep accelerating.

How long will it be before UK folks just lose interest in buying combustion vehicles altogether? The government recently set an end point of combustion vehicle sales by 2035, but it is open to pulling the deadline closer depending on events on the ground. At the rate things are moving, I’d guess that over 80% of UK vehicle sales will be EVs by the end of this decade. Do you agree? Please jump into the comments to share you thoughts. 

Fossil Vehicle Sales Slide 15% As EV Market Share Increases From 2.5% To 6.5%

February 6th, 2020 by Dr. Maximilian Holland, Clean Technica

Europe’s largest auto market, Germany, saw January fossil fuel vehicle sales drop by over 15% year-on-year, with gasoline vehicles alone down over 17%. Meanwhile, EVs increased their market share to 6.5% from 2.5%. Europe’s big five markets are now at a combined 6.0% EV market share. What progress will full year 2020 bring overall?

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Parsing out the electric vehicle mix, pure battery electrics took 3% market share, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) taking 3.5%. Regular hybrids and mild-hybrids also saw good growth, to 9% market share, but we do not include them under the “electric vehicle” umbrella.

As I’ve recently discussed elsewhere, non-plug-in hybrids can certainly boost the efficiency of old-school combustion engines, which is sorely needed, as Germany’s average CO2/km still came in at 151.5 grams, almost 60% above the European fleet target for 2020. However, non-plug-in hybrids are not able to meet the more ambitious emissions targets that will phase in over the current decade. This will require plug-in vehicles with a range of ~50 km (~30 miles) or more.

We don’t yet have much data on which EV models led the German charge in January. Renault said that the Zoe sold 1,800 units in the country. Tesla didn’t see a major shipment arriving in Europe in time for January sales, but per-manufacturer data showed it moved 367 vehicles in Germany, presumably from small amounts of last quarter’s stock. Once the ships start delivering again, expect March 2020 to see closer to the record 1,515 Model 3 sales that were seen in September 2019. We know that Volkswagen’s ID.3 will sell relatively well in Germany when it arrives in decent volumes in the coming summer.

European Market Dynamics

As I mentioned when discussing France’s breakout January EV market share of 11%, there are good reasons for this 2020 surge of EVs across Europe. Germany’s big jump from 2.5% a year ago to 6.5% this year was partly due to manufacturers stockpiling EVs late last year to be able to make a big push to meet the stricter EU fleet emissions requirements of 2020.

January may therefore be showing a spring-back trend which might cool a bit in the coming months, but not by much. Germany should anyway comfortably exceed 5% EV market share for full year 2020, from 3.1% in 2019.

Let’s not forget that growing EV market share is also a function of more-than-linear declines in fossil fuel vehicle sales. For diesel and gasoline vehicles to have fallen by over 15% (gasoline alone over 17%) suggests that large numbers of folks are certainly turning away from buying the aging and polluting technology. France, the UK, and other European markets are also seeing disproportionate falls in fossil vehicle sales this year. This has all the signs of the early stages of the Osborne Effect, as we have been predicting for several years.

With Germany at 6.5%, France at 11%, the UK at 5.9%, Spain at 3.9%, and Italy at 2.1% … Europe’s “big 5” have together reached 6.0% EV market share in January, and over 46,000 combined EV sales. Europe’s smaller markets are often further ahead (Norway 64%, Sweden 30%, Portugal 11% … and more), so the January combined total may lift to ~8% or higher when all the numbers are in.

What are you thoughts on full year EV market share in Germany, and Europe overall? Please jump into the comments and share your ideas.


Amazon & Rivian Designed 3 Bespoke Last-Mile Delivery Vehicles

February 7th, 2020 by Kyle Field 

Amazon takes us behind the scenes in the design process for its next generation last-mile electric delivery vehicle. In the new video, Amazon Director of Last-Mile Fleets Ross Rachey highlights the massive opportunity and the obligation Amazon feels to improve the sustainability of its operations. “We’re trying to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world,” Rachey said.

Screenshot from Amazon.

Sustainability is at the forefront of what Rivian does and provides the backstory as to why they are building not just electric vehicles, but electric trucks. “We’re at an inflection point in human history where our actions are shifting and fundamentally changing the nature of what this planet feels like to live in,” Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said. “We’re changing the climate.” The power to enact change exists in each of us. RJ took his passion for cars and in searching for a way to solve the climate crisis, rolled his own company. The result was Rivian.

Amazon is new to the world of parcel delivery and initially opted for a fleet of diesel-powered Mercedes Sprinter vans for its Amazon Prime package deliveries. Last-mile delivery involves a mind numbing number of starts and stops throughout the day and all those cycles take a toll on the efficiency of combustion engines.

Screenshot from Amazon.

On the other hand, electric vehicles handle the task with grace. The motor only moves when it’s time to move and operate at effectively the same efficiency throughout a trip. That improvement in efficiency translates to lower fuel costs and with Amazon already clamping down across its entire supply chain to squeeze out every last penny, saving 50% or more on fuel with the potential to save even more on maintenance, it was simply too lucrative to pass up.

To nail the design and find the right vehicle, Amazon’s team first evaluated what was available on the open market in the world of electric vehicles, but nothing felt like a great fit. With an order this large, they really wanted it to be perfect. So Amazon dropped a few hundred million dollars into electric vehicle startup Rivian and just a few weeks later, dropped a bomb of an order. “100,000 units, that’s a large volume of vehicles. We have to get this right,” Rachey said.

Amazon’s transportation team spent 18 months evaluating a variety of electric vehicle options to reduce its carbon footprint. To move quickly, Rachey’s team realized the best way forward was to chart their own path and create a new, custom electric vehicle to meet Amazon’s needs now and in the future. The design process involved numerous iterations and scale models to enable Amazon to build the perfect electric solution.

A full-sized clay model of Amazon’s electric delivery vehicle at Rivian headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan. Image courtesy Amazon. Image credit: Jordan Stead

The partnership with Rivian resulted in not one, but three different vehicles sized to suit the needs of Amazon’s delivery business. The capacity of the battery pack can also be adjusted to meet the needs of the specific route being served on any given day.

“We are focused on driving efficiency into every aspect of the vehicle design—everything from cabin heating to driver ergonomics to drivetrain design has been optimized for time and energy,” said R.J. Scaringe, CEO of Rivian. “And then the echo effect of this, of causing other logistics players in this space to also look at how they drive up efficiency within their fleet, will have a very large impact.”

Image courtesy Amazon.

The two companies see the massive order as a gamechanger not just internally at Amazon and Rivian, but across the broader landscape of last-mile delivery. “We created The Climate Pledge and are investing in 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vans to demonstrate that there is a large and growing market for green technologies,” Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, Dave Clark said. “It’s important that large companies like Amazon stimulate investment in the development of low-carbon products and services that will be required to help companies of all sizes decarbonize their operations and support a thriving, low-carbon economy.”

As one might expect from a technology company, the vehicles are also packed with technology to make driving safer, enjoyable, and functional for its drivers. They will come with a standard kit of advanced safety features like automated emergency braking, front wheel or all wheel drive, lane keep assist, pedestrian warning system, and a distracted driver warning system designed to keep drivers safe.

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe in front of a scale model and clay model of Amazon’s electric delivery vehicles. Image courtesy: Amazon.

Routing and package delivery technology also made its way into the vehicle to give drivers the information they need without becoming a distraction to task number one: driving. The system will provide address and navigation information with Amazon Alexa integration to enable hands free access to assistance.

Amazon expects to begin delivering packages to customers in the new Rivian-powered electric vehicles next year with plans to have 10,000 of the vehicles on the road as early as 2022. All 100,000 vehicles from the massive order are expected to be in service by 2030, transforming the carbon impact of Amazon’s last-mile delivery operations one vehicle, one driver, one route, and one package at a time.

Tesla’s Market Cap Is Nearly That Of BMW & VW Combined

February 7th, 2020 by Johnna Crider 

Tesla now has as high a market cap that is nearly as large as BMW and VW combined. An article by Spiegel noted a few days ago that Tesla [TSLA] had surpassed the two, but the stock has dropped a bit since then. Nonetheless, it’s still close.

In the article, the writer points out that Tesla is called “Bitcoin on wheels” by a critic, despite the fact that Tesla is the leader of the EV revolution — by far.

Tesla has a lot of good things going for it. As a result, the other day, Tesla’s share price flirted with $1,000 per share. Spiegel points out that Tesla’s market value has climbed to more than $132 billion (an even $135 billion at the moment), which makes it worth more than the combination of BMW and VW.

Tesla is still the #1 shorted stock on the market, with 24 million shares in the hands of short sellers (people who are betting that the stock price will fall, and in some cases that the company will go bankrupt). Last week, Tesla short sellers had paper losses of more than $5 billion in two days. Many of them are still shorting the stock.

The idea of “Bitcoin on wheels” makes one think that Tesla is overhyped in regard to its value. For those who don’t understand that analogy, Bitcoin had a lot of value in 2017, when it was almost $20,000 per BTC, then it crashed to just over $6,000 by early 2018.

Gordon Johnson of GLJ Research thinks that 2020 will be a disaster for Tesla. He is basing his thoughts on Tesla’s net loss of $900 million and the fact that sales in the fourth quarter rose by 2%. It seems he isn’t looking past 2020 at the larger picture. He doesn’t seem to realize that in 2020 Model Y deliveries will begin and the Semi will be in production. Plus, Battery Day and another Autonomy Day are coming, in which Tesla will probably show how much further along it is than competitors on these critical topics.

Despite what Tesla’s critics believe, the German automotive industry, according to Spiegel, sees Tesla with a lot of respect. Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess said, “We are valued like an automotive company. Tesla is like a tech company. The time of classic car manufacturers is over.” VW wants to be where Tesla is, and is hoping it will be soon.

I think the main reason why Tesla’s value has skyrocketed is due to the fact that it is a tech company that has focused on breathing fresh air into an industry that is over a century old. Tesla is doing for vehicles what Apple did for phones and computers and even watches. Its value will only increase as Tesla continues to establish great products that are a balanced mix of tech hardware and tech software (that drives). Tesla’s worth isn’t just in the numbers — it’s in the products. It’s in the product design, the tech, and the contributions toward protecting our environment as well.

Tesla’s worth is determined by a need that it is meeting. People want cleaner vehicles — vehicles that produce zero emissions and reduce their carbon footprints. This is why Tesla’s worth cannot be priced — it’s priceless.