Global sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) rose by 59% year over year in the first quarter of 2018 to 312,400 units. The total includes battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and PHEV passenger car sales, light trucks in the United States and Canada, and light commercial vehicles in Europe and China.
The growth rate for PHEVs was 69%, compared to a growth rate of 52% for BEVs. The best-selling vehicle was the Nissan Leaf, with 22,000 units delivered in the first quarter.
The fastest growing markets were Finland (up 144%), South Korea (up 138%), Australia (up 132%), Netherlands (up 122%), Canada (up 114%) and China (up 113%). Market share leaders were Norway (46% of all new car sales were plug-ins in the first quarter), Iceland (26%) and Sweden (7%). No large economy had a market share of greater than 2.5%.
The data were reported Monday by research firm EV-volumes.com, which is predicting a full-year increase in 2018 of 48% year over year to 1.9 million vehicles. If that prediction comes true, PHEVs will account for just under 2% of total global new car sales this year. EV-volumes.com expects PHEV sales to approach 3% of all monthly sales by December.
In the United States, consumers are still waiting for larger supplies of Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) Model 3 sedans and the second generation Nissan Leaf. The Model-3 was the country’s best seller from January through April, with 12,000 deliveries this year, including April. In the first quarter, Tesla had one-third of the U.S. plug-in market, and all of its models ranked in the top five in sales.
The researchers also noted that the number of public charging stations doubled within two years. Battery costs have dropped by 50% in the past three years, and large automakers like Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have said that electric vehicles will comprise 25% of their total sales in the next decade.