Monday, June 30, 2014

Battery Makers May 2014

Batteries are a critical part of an electric car, representing up to 30% of the total cost of the vehicle, so let's see how battery makers are doing:

Panasonic continues to grow, cementing the leadership and increasing 1% in share to 36%, all thanks to the success of the Model S and the good performance from Toyota;

AESC, a joint venture between NEC and Nissan, provide batteries for the Nissan Leaf and most of Renault's EV's, thanks to the global success of the Nissan Leaf sales continue to grow but share continues to decline, with 25% in 2014, when in the end of last year it had 28%;

LG has been the provider of GM and Ford, and with GM sales dwindling fast, LG continues to lose share, it's now at 11% when last year it had 18%;

 - Lithium Energy Japan (GS Yuasa / Mitsubishi), despite the success of the Mitsu Outlander PHEV, the use of small batteries in it (12 kWh), means that it's still a small player with 7% share, up 1% regarding 2013;

BYD makes its own batteries and thanks to the success of the Qin, battery sales are going through the roof, with sales this year (137 MWh) already above last year (117) and share doubling from 3% last year to 6% in '14; 

EV Business Case - Shopping for an EV - 3rd Chapter

Click here if you missed the first chapter...

...Or the second.

Test Drive


After a few delays and phone calls  to schedule a meeting, i finally got to test drive the electric Fortwo in downtown Lisbon.

A friendly salesperson asked me if i had any experience with electric cars (Negative answer), making made a brief introduction to the car and technology, saying that it was the fuel source of the future.

After sitting in the car and explaining me the main features in the car, i finally got to drive it around town, where it felt just perfect, small enough to travel around through narrow, ancient streets of old neighborhoods, and powerful enough to climb steep hills and sprint through heavy traffic. Oh, and because it doesn't have that nasty gearbox of ICE Smarts, it is a much more relaxed drive than their gas siblings.

Back to the dealership, i considered that the car didn't justified the huge price difference regarding their ICE siblings, to which the sales person replied that he couldn't make a significant discount on it because few were sold and there wasn't enough scale to lower the price, leaving the possibility for me to buy a gasoline Fortwo or renting the Fortwo ED as alternatives.

Smart believes that electric cars are still for a few single-minded people that buy more with their heart than with their wallet.


I've saved the best for last, when i got into the dedicated BMW "i" dealership in downtown Lisbon (In a strategic spot, with other dealerships nearby, like Audi, Peugeot, Toyota or Chevrolet), the first thing that it struck me was how different it looked from other dealerships(1), Premium or non Premium, with minimalist decoration and a nice contrast between colors, it looked more like i've entered an Art Gallery than a car dealership. 

Two minutes after getting inside the dealership, i'm greeted by a salesperson in a "i" polo shirt (Like every other staff members), and after a few early questions, the i3 is showed to me by him, with the salesperson proving to be a devoted fan of electric cars and very much focused in highlighting the top selling points of the car.

After this first presentation, i'm introduced to another staff member that would be with me during the test drive. Before getting into the car, i'm asked to lend my ID car for them to register my data on their Db (Glad for them i'm not paranoid about this kind of stuff).

The test drive had predetermined route, that pretty much covered all kinds of roads and situations, with the added bonus of visiting one or two more scenic places in Lisbon.

As for the i3 itself, all i can say is this: "Weeeee!", besides being a small car with not that much weight to carry around, it shows on how lively it is, it has more than enough power to blast every other car in traffic lights, let's just say that if i had one, i would jeopardize my drivers licence every time i had to drive it...

After stopping in Monsanto Green Park, the staff member (An electronics engineer), explained me how to plug and unplug the car to a fast charger, encouraging me to unplug it. During the test drive i made a few questions on the technology behind the i3 (Materials, charging rates, batteries, software, etc), to which he replied willingly and accurately.

Back to the dealership, i'm introduced to a third member of the staff, "which would assist me through the configuration of the car" (It takes a specialist to do this?!?!?).

During the extensive configuration of the car, at times it felt more like we were doing Interior Decorating of a house than a car, so many were the options. (Yes, it does).

After more than 5.000 euro of optional equipment later, we finished the configuration and by then the salesperson joined us and asked my opinion, i objected that the price was too high, to which he replied that there was a lot of new technology involved in this car, so the price had to be high. I asked if they had any demonstration car, but they responded that BMW Portugal had yet to put any demonstration i3 for sale, giving the possibility for me to rent the car at an interesting fare.

The best plug-in car i've tried and probably the best staff in selling electric cars. But be careful with the options list as you might end up with stratospheric numbers in an already overpriced car.  

(1) - At least from what i remembered from my college-student-part-time-mistery-shopper days

Sunday, June 29, 2014

World Top 10 May 2014

Models - A Whole Lotta Records

There were 24.414 plug-ins sold last month, representing the second best sales month ever for plug-ins, only behind the freak event that was last December, where 28.079 EV's were sold.

This great performance shows in the individual sales, where four cars got new sales records, those being the Prius Plug-in (2.932 units), Fusion Energi (1.352), BYD Qin (1.008) and BMW i3. 

Another sign of a good global performance, is that seven cars sold in the thousands, when a year ago only four achieved those numbers.

Looking to models ranking, the leader Nissan Leaf lost another 1% in share, with the less than stellar performance in Europe to blame.

Only one position change this time, with the Ford Fusion surpassing the BYD Qin to reach #6.

Out of the Top 10 but with deserved references, the Renault Zoe was #9 in May, while the Ford C-Max Energi was #10, with this last one ending just 17 units away (3.015) from the VW e-Up! in the YTD ranking. 

1Nissan Leaf4.75722.074221
2Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV2.29610.575105
3Tesla Model S2.30710.506104
4Toyota Prius Plug-In2.9329.05393
5Chevrolet Volt (1)1.8857.86382
6Ford Fusion Energi1.3524.34649
7BYD Qin1.0084.302440
8BMW i39833.836420
9Chery QQ3 EV e)6003.216311
10Volkswagen e-Up!7183.032318


Manufacturers - Toyota month 

In the Manufacturers ranking, the star of the month was Toyota, #2 in May and running away with its #4 from Chevrolet and Ford.

The #7 BYD continues to improve with yet another sales record (Now at 1.261 units/month), but with Renault back on track (1.450 units sold), the fight for #7 should be interesting.

In #10 is for Chery, taking credit for the increased demand of plug-ins in China, but VW is just 74 units behind....

5Chevrolet 2.0678.43682
10Chery e)6303.38349

(1) - Includes Holden Volt, Opel and Vauxhall Ampera;

e) - Estimate

Questions for June

1 - Which model will be #2? And #6? And #10?

2 - Who will improve their sales records?

3 - Will the BMW i3 reach four digit sales?

4 - Which manufacturer will be #5?

5 - Can VW remove Chery from #10?

Markets Roundup May 2014

Renault Twizy - To Boldly Go Where no Other EV has Gone Before 

After a brilliant 2012, the Renault Twizy fashion sales slumped, leaving the french manufacturer no other choice than to go after fresher, less crowded markets.

That's why Renault expanded Twizy sales to markets like Bulgaria (14 Twizies registered in 2013, two this year), Turkey (2 units in '14), or Morocco (7 in '13, 18 this year), but also to less obvious places like Kuwait (2 units this year) or Dubai (16 Twizies thus far!).   

BMW i3 - Bev vs Rex Breakdown

The numbers show an interesting balance between both versions, but there are differences from market to market, whereas the Northern Europe prefers Rex (Denmark, Sweden), the Central and Southern Europe tend to go for Bevs (Italy, Austria, Belgium), with the exception of France, where Rex is the favorite one.


Trends in the G7 

The French market continues the slow return to form, growing for the forth consecutive time (EV share is at 0,77%), the Netherlands and Norway keep on cruising up high (5,10% and 16,66% EV Share for each one), while the US market benefited from a record month to reach a never-before-seen EV share of 0,75%

The German market is continuing to improve (0,44% vs 0,33% EV share last month), with the Outlander PHEV winning consumers preferences in May. 

China is going from strength to strength (0,15% share vs 0,08% last year), with monthly sales going up for the sixth month in a row(!), propelled by the ever-improving BYD Qin and the arrival of the Tesla Model S.

Largest Markets for EV's

Here are 16 top markets in the world regarding plug-in sales, making the largest contribution for the half a million EV's rolling around the world.

2014 All Time
USA 42.570 213.943
Japan 11.897 86.158
France 5.165 36.594
Norway 8.907 25.294
Germany 4.845 20.369
Netherlands 7.716 37.429
China 10.369 39.053
UK 2.366 10.444
Italy 579 4.448
Spain 326 3.756
Canada 1.580 7.167
Switzerland 699 4.120
Austria 644 3.423
Sweden 1.677 5.070
Belgium 896 3.528
Denmark 496 2.043

Continental Best Sellers

Having seen the interest that the "Europe" article has in EVS, i've tried to do the same with the other continents and here's what i came up to:


Nissan Leaf 10.747
T. Prius Plug-In 7.771
Chevrolet Volt 7.506
Tesla Model S 5.798
Ford Fusion Energi 4.346

It's the same ranking as the the US, only with the Volt closer to the Prius thanks to the Canadian sales


Nissan Leaf  +/- 90
Renault Twizy 18

EV's are basically present in two african countries, Morocco, with the 18 Twizies sold, and South Africa where there's unconfirmed numbers saying that some 90 Leafs were sold to date.

Nissan Leaf 5.679
Outlander PHEV 4.453
BYD Qin 4.302
Chery QQ3 EV 3.216
BYD e6 1.134

It's here that things get interesting, without direct contact in any market (Apart from the limited production of the Venucia "Leaf" in China), japanese and chinese cars share the ranking, and with the BYD Qin sales growing every month, i wouldn't be surprised that at some point in the near future the chinese plug-in would win the Best Selling EV title in Asia.

Other Markets

Spain finally got a breath of fresh sales (119 units, best month of the year), while in other markets, sales are so brisk that it took them just five months to break last year numbers, like in Belgium (896 sales this year, 828 in '13), Poland (30 units in '14, the same as last year), and June comes with the promise of other markets reach the same goal, like Denmark (493 vs 522) or Sweden (1.677 vs 1.922).

Questions for June

1 - Where will be beaten the next sales records?

2 - Who will be #1 in Norway? And in Germany?

3 - Where will the Outlander PHEV #1?

4 - Will the Qin reach the 1.500 registrations?

5 - Where will Tesla make a comeback and reach #1's?

6 - Will the BMW i3 continue to win Best Selling titles?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Japan May 2014

Nothing To Declare Edition

There were 1.553 new plug-ins in Japan last month, selling 229 more units over the same month last year, with no relevant changes in the ranking, the Nissan Leaf (743 units sold) was Best Selling EV for the fourth consecutive time, increasing some 200 units its advance over the #2, the Outlander PHEV (563 registrations).

Looking at the manufacturers ranking, Nissan (47%) continued ahead of Mitsubishi (45%).

PlJapanMay  2014     %Pl '13
1Nissan Leaf7435.59647    1
2Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV5634.45337    2
3Toyota Prius Plug-In e)2001.0008    3
4Mitsubishi I-Miev254664    4
5Mitsubishi Minicab Miev123013    5
6Mitsub. Minicab Miev Truck10811    6


e) Estimate


South Korea May 2014

Kia Edition

Finally a decent month for this asian market, with 76 units sold, 64 of them being Kias and 38 belonging to the new Soul EV, landing this month and going straight to #1 in May.

Looking at the YTD ranking, Kia won the models (Ray EV) and manufacturers leadership, with no intentions of letting it go in the near future.

A final mention for the BMW i3, registering seven units, the little german car is starting to gain traction in South Korea, will it be a relevant player here?

PlSouth KoreaMay  2014     %Pl '13
1Kia Ray EV
8338  2
2Samsung SM3 ZE
6932   1
Kia Soul EV
Chevrolet Spark EV

5BMW i37115N/A



Friday, June 27, 2014

EV Business Case - Shopping for an EV - 2nd Chapter

Click here if you missed the first chapter.

Test Drive


The first Test Drive was of the Renault Zoe, a Saturday that was an Open Day at the french brand dealerships, a lot of people were present, most of them looking to experiment the Clio and Captur, but there was also one guy (An engineer of some sort) testing the Zoe.

After several minutes i finally got to speak with the salesperson responsible for the Zoe, the first thing he did was a small query about driving habits (How many kms do you make a day? Do you have a second car? Do you frequently travel far?), justifying it with the purpose of being sure that the Zoe was the right car for me (I made sure it was), after a brief description of the car and how it worked, we finally got to drive it.

The test drive consisted in a few minutes around the neighborhood, without the possibility to try it on open road (And squeeze the accelerator), but during those minutes i found the Zoe comfortable and easy to drive, a bit like an upscale Clio.

Towards the end of the test drive, i gave thumbs up to the car but said that it was too bad that you couldn't buy the batteries, because the money you give for the renting would be enough to buy fuel of a Clio diesel, that was cheaper than the Zoe.

The salesperson replied that the brand policy was to rent batteries because they were evolving fast and by renting them the customer didn't had the trouble to have a dated battery (Valid Point), reinforcing that batteries lose performance with time and as they are rented, they could be replaced before that happened or before warranty ended, saying that he knew cases of Toyota Prius (I said i had one) batteries gone bad that had ended the warranty and the car couldn't run because of it (?!?!?), which implied that the customer had to waste thousands of euros to get his Prius running.

In the end he said that we could try a Clio diesel and afterwards i could decide what was best for me, adding: "We don't want unsatisfied customers, like BMW has" (Say whaaaat?!?!?!)

Back to the dealership, the configuration of my Zoe began and after saying that it was a bit too expensive for my taste, he replied that he couldn't make any discount because Renault has low margins on the Zoe, offering instead a nice deal on a Clio Tourer diesel as an alternative, when i asked how much was the demonstration car, he said that it wasn't still for sale, and he insisted on the Clio Tourer deal or a low-spec Captur.

The car was better than the sales service.


The following test drive was at Nissan's downtown dealership, along with the parked Qashqai and Note there were two Leaf (One white and another grey), i got to try the grey one, the salesperson let me choose the test drive tour, so i've driven it in all kinds of roads, congested city areas, highway, mountain roads...You name it.

The salesperson was pretty confidant and experienced with the car, explaining several real use situations with the car, saying he had more than 20.000 kms experience in Leafs.

As for the car itself, if it had better looks and a bit more range, i would consider it perfect for me, comfortable, lots of space and just enough power to blast through mountain roads or passing other cars. About those looks...If it only looked as good outside as it looks inside and had 250 kms range i would buy it, as this isn't the case....(Deal-breaker time, sorry Nissan).

Back to the dealership, i made a fast configuration of my Leaf and after complaining that it was a bit too expensive for what i expected, he offered me a 3.000 euro discount or a nice deal on the grey Leaf, with some 9.000 euro less on the demonstration vehicle. (Mmmm...nice, for a brief moment i even considered going ahead with the deal).

Nissan is selling the Leaf like any other car of its range. And that's a good sign of things to come.

A curious note: When i was going to leave the dealership with the car, one customer in a suit realized it was an electric car and asked how much it costed to the salesperson, then asking-guessing for its range: "100 kms range?"

When the salesperson replied "200 kms", the suited customer didn't hide his surprise, saying: "That much, eh?!?", leaving with an approval smile in his face.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Europe May 2014

Outlander Is Number One Edition

With 7.783 units sold in May, the European EV market more than doubled sales regarding the same month last year.

Looking at the models ranking, the Outlander PHEV was again the Best Seller of the month, with 1.733 units, finally changing positions with the Nissan Leaf (Just 728 units sold, worst result of the year) and climbing to the YTD leadership for the first time, ending one year of Leaf dominance in The Old Continent.

Great month for the Renault Zoe, 785 units sold (Best month since last October), reaching #2 in May and although it's still #7 YTD, the french hatch is giving signs of recovery.

1Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV1.7336.047182
2Nissan Leaf7285.559161
3Tesla Model S7544.175127
4BMW i36333.4821012
5Volkswagen e-Up!7183.032911
6Volvo V60 Plug-In7012.90284
7Renault Zoe7852.65382
8Renault Kangoo ZE3781.48445
9Smart Fortwo ED23390039
10Renault Twizy227746210
11Bolloré Blue Car105449116
12Citröen C-Zero123356115
13Toyota Prius Plug-In30316112
Mitsubishi I-Miev
Opel Ampera
Volkswagen e-Golf
Porsche Panamera Plug-In
Peugeot iOn
Goupil G3
Peugeot Partner EV


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Belgium May 2014

Duel in the Sun Edition

Tesla Model S (45 units) and Porsche Panamera Plug-In (43) won the first two spots in May, making Belgium the chosen turf for these two go face-to-face and also the only EV market where Porsche is #3 in the manufacturers YTD ranking...

The Volvo V60 Plug-In, continues to recover and it's now alone in #4. The VW e-up! had a bad month (3 registrations) and dropped two spots to #9 in the YTD ranking.

1Tesla Model S45191212
2BMW i3 *19153177
3Porsche Panamera Plug-In431501712
4Volvo V60 Plug-In894101
4Nissan Leaf793103
6Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV2577919
7Renault Twizy113744
7Renault Zoe83245
9Volkswagen e-Up!329314
10Smart Fortwo ED22636
11Opel Ampera
12Mitsubishi I-Miev
13Peugeot iOn12014
Fisker Karma
Citröen C-Zero
Toyota Prius Plug-In
McLaren P1
Renault Fluence ZE



Source:; Manufacturers

* - 12 Bev + 7 Rex