Plug-in Hybrid Sales Are Exploding On The Continent

People don’t want plug-in hybrid cars, the auto companies said. Plug-ins are just a stop gap solution on the way to real electric cars, the experts said. But guess what? The plug-ins are here and the manufacturers can’t keep up with demand. In Europe and the UK, demand for the new BMW 330e has far outstripped supply, Motoring reports.

Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid

BMW has issued this statement: “We predicted UK sales of 2,500 for the 330e this year, but the demand was much higher than we originally anticipated. We do have high demand across other PHEV models, but it’s not to the same extent as this. Due to very strong demand, we are indeed oversubscribed on 330e. We’re working with affected parties now and will let you know more when we have it regarding future supply.” Several UK customers have been informed their orders have been cancelled because the factory cannot keep up.

Volkswagen, mired in its diesel cheating scandal woes, has at least one bright spot of good news. It tells Motoring, “Last year we took around 2,500 orders for the Golf GTE and that number is expected to grow appreciably through 2016. Demand comfortably exceeds supply although we have, of course, adjusted production to accommodate that increasing demand.”

Automotive World reports that a new study by GKN finds German drivers prefer plug-in hybrid cars to battery electric cars 3 to 1. In a survey of 1,000 German motorists, most — 61% — said that an electric range of 30 miles was adequate for their daily driving needs, especially if they can plug in overnight and have a full battery charge in the morning.

Industry watcher LMC Automotive predicts that European sales of plug-in hybrids will grow to about 250,000 a year in three year’s time. According to Inside EVs, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the top selling plug-in car in Europe by a wide margin. This is the same vehicle that Mitsubishi has been blithering and dithering about bringing to the US for the past 3 years. Apparently it wants to wait until it has plenty of competitors while it perseverates about what shape grille American customers prefer.

Plug-in hybrid sales chart

The upshot of all this plug-in hybrid news is that General  Motors seems to have done the best job of predicting the market for alternative fueled vehicles when it threw its weight behind the Chevy Volt 5 years ago. The second generation Volt is scoring impressive sales gains and the Cadillac CT6 PHEV may find a wider market here at home than Cadillac expects.

The other company that appears to have done a good job of reading the tea leaves is Chrysler, which will introduce its first plug-in hybrid minivan soon. Toyota and Honda both claim nobody wants a plug-in van. That leaves Chrysler a clear field to prove them wrong.

Is the plug-in hybrid the perfect vehicle? No, of course not. It is a compromise at best. But it may prove to be an essential bridge to the future of transportation. Sure, 50 years from now, people may chuckle about how silly the idea was, but for now, the market is saying it wants more of them. Much more. If you are in sales, the first rule is to give people what they want. Are you listening, Mitsubishi?

Photo credit: Inside EVs

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.