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Electric car sales fall for the first time in a long time: a bad omen?

In recent months the bad numbers of new car registrations have been repeated. The current global economic and geopolitical situation has caused a perfect storm that, in the automobile industry, has resulted in fewer cars being manufactured and fewer cars being sold. Until now there had been a ray of hope in electric and plug-in hybrid cars, which, unlike the rest of the market, continued to post positive growth figures. But that has also changed.

Semiconductor shortages, skyrocketing energy and transportation prices, supply chain problems, skyrocketing inflation, and a geopolitical crisis stemming from the war between Russia and Ukraine. All this -and something else that you have probably forgotten- has turned the world upside down, and with it all manufacturing industries. Also the car, of course. Fewer cars are made and therefore fewer cars are sold. Last 2021 in Europe the worst number of new car registrations in almost four decades was recorded. Both pure electric and plug-in hybrids were saved from burning, with an increase of 66% compared to the previous year.

But the upward trend was interrupted last April and electric car registrations have also stagnated, registering a year-on-year decrease for the first time in a long time. In April, sales of plug-in cars (pure electric and hybrid PHEV) in Europe registered a decrease of 1.4% compared to the same month of the previous year, according to data from JATO Dynamics. Registrations in Europe fell from 156,371 units in April 2021 to 154,219 units last April, the second year-on-year drop since April 2020. Electric and plug-in hybrid cars accounted for 19% of total market sales in April.

This bad data comes in the midst of a truly bleak picture: new vehicle registrations in Europe fell by 20% last April, to stand at 821,000 units. If we look at other parts of the world, the situation is not much better: the US market registered a decline of 18%, a figure similar to Europe, while in China sales plummeted 48% due to the new confinements imposed by the government. of the Asian country.

Although the restrictions due to Covid-19 have been relaxing in Europe, practically returning to normality in many countries on the continent, the current economic situation and the uncertainty about the future are leaving a worrying situation in the market. The drop in sales of electric cars, which until now had been a reason for optimism, paints a bleak omen on the horizon – not only in the automobile market, but in the economy in general. So far this year, new vehicle registrations fell 13% to 3.55 million units, the lowest figure since 1991.

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Best-selling cars in Europe (April 2022). Left: total market. Center: plug-in hybrids. Right: electrical.

Although manufacturers have prioritized sales of electric cars and SUVs, supply is not meeting demand. A demand that continues to grow in electric cars (although at a slower rate), with a 13% increase in sales in April, to 83,000 units. However, sales of plug-in hybrids fell 15%, in part because some countries are dropping incentives for their purchase.

In April, Stellantis led the electric car market for the first time

Last April Stellantis led electric car registrations, with 16,600 units and a market share of 20% of the market. It thus surpassed the Volkswagen Group, which registered a drop of 37% as a result of production cuts in its factories. The Hyundai-Kia Group reached a share of 15.1% thanks to a very notable increase in sales, 61% more than in April of the previous year.

However, in the accumulated figure for the year, the Volkswagen Group remains the leader with an 18.2% market share. It is followed by Stellantis (15.7%) and Tesla (15%).

By models, the electric Fiat 500 was the best-selling electric car in April, with 5,524 new registrations throughout Europe. It was followed by the Peugeot e-208 (3,730), the Skoda Enyaq (3,645), the Dacia Spring (3,555) and the Kia e-Niro (3,478). In the accumulated of the year, the best-selling electric cars in Europe are the Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla Model Y, followed by the electric Fiat 500 in third position.

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