Sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles are faltering in Europe, which has been their most important market to date, while demand is rising for for full-electric vehicles.
As consumers turned away from diesel cars after Volkswagen's diesel scandal and Europe's lawmakers toughened emissions regulations, some automakers bet heavily on plug-in vehicles, which are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor that can propel the vehicle without emissions for short distances.
Plugs-in models offer consumers a way to get a sampling of the EV experience without jumping fully in and are often described as a transition technology — a bridge to a full-electric future.
The latest data shows two very different sales trajectories between plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles.
Sales of plug-in hybrids in France fell 28 percent in June. In Germany — another former stronghold for the technology — registrations dropped 16 percent.
In the UK, plug-in hybrids were neck-and-neck with full-electric cars as recently as 2019. Now, two battery-electric cars sell for every one plug-in model.
Some of this is to be expected. In 2020 and 2021, automakers had to meet Europe’s stricter CO2 targets for new vehicles, and plug-in hybrids were treated favorably under the regulations.
Many automakers did not have their new full-electric architectures fully ready. When faced with two options — to market full-electric vehicles underpinned by modified internal combustion platforms, or plug-in hybrids — many opted for the latter.