The biggest manufacturers of all-electric cars sold in Europe are Nissan with their Leaf in 1st place in terms of sales (and e-NV200 van in 5th), Tesla with their Model S in 2nd place, and Renault with their ZOE in 3rd place. These manufacturers are, of course, Japanese, American and French respectively. What is interesting is that there is only one German entrant in the top 5, BMW with their i3 at 4th place, despite the fact that German manufacturers dominate the European market for fossil-fuelled cars.
The Germans do make electric cars – Mercedes has the B Class Electric and Volkswagen has the e-Golf and e-Up – but they appear to make no effort to market them. Historically they have also had lacklustre range and high prices. The bottom line is that they haven’t sold in significant numbers.
German Plugin Hybrids (PHEVs)
Instead it seems that German manufacturers have decided that the plugin hybrid (PHEV) combining an electric drivetrain with a conventional petrol engine is what people want. Or at least they see it as an intermediate step towards full electrification. Considering PHEVs, the top 10 sales now include Mercedes with the C350e in 2nd place (after the Mitsubishi Outlander), the BMW 330e in 4th place and the Volkswagen Golf GTE at 6th place.
In fact, Volkswagen has arguably embraced PHEVs more than any other manufacture. They currently offer both of their two biggest selling cars, the Passat and the Golf, in PHEV form as the ‘GTE’. Both of them offer the ability to commute (up to about 20 miles) on electricity with the option of using petrol for longer distances – they also have pretty good 0-60 times too.
VW on the Rise
With these cars in the vanguard, and with the e-Up and newly improved e-Golf to come, Volkswagen may soon make significant inroads into plugin sales in the UK.
These were some of the thoughts that came to me looking at the row of EVs charging outside the Milton Keynes Electric Vehicle Experience Centre (EVEC). Of the eight cars, three were from Volkswagen (so nearly 40%). We ourselves are looking to start offering VW plugins soon, and I’m sure we’ll see VW as an EV brand on the rise from here on.
As ever, if you want to test drive any of the cars mentioned here just get in touch.