E-Mobility Sales Review Q1-2020

The current analysis by PwC and Strategy& reveals future potential for electric mobility


Executive summary

Just as global manufacturers are starting to roll out their first generation of dedicated electric vehicle platforms and plug-in hybrid powertrains, the regions of the world have been feeling the effects of COVID-19 one after the other. After a complete shutdown in demand and production in China in February 2020, Europe followed suit in March, while North America faced a similar situation by April.

Based on full-year total market declines estimated between 10 and 40%, electrified vehicles are expected to secure growing market shares due to dedicated customer demand and an expanded product offering. Targeted subsidies and sales support have proven highly effective in overcoming buyer objections and are expected to play a major role in post-crisis recovery programs, supporting economic, regulatory and environmental targets.  


Top findings

  • In the first quarter of 2020, sales of fully electric and electrified vehicles (xEVs) – mild, full and plug-in hybrid as well as battery electric vehicles – registered a decline of 7% in key markets compared to the first quarter of 2019.
  • This decrease was mainly caused by lower sales of battery electric vehicles (-23%, to 202,900 units in the EU top 5, China and the US) compared to the first quarter of 2019. The numbers of newly registered plug-in hybrids on the other hand grew overall by 4% (102,400 units).
  • The overall decline was principally caused by the locked-up Chinese market due to COVID-19
  • European markets mostly enjoyed ongoing growth. In terms of total market shares, battery electric vehicles (BEV) have the highest share in the European Top 5 countries at 3.7% (China: 2.3%; US: 1.3%)
  • Europe has also reached the highest alternative powertrain share of 14.8% (China: 4%; US: 3.7%) which is mainly due to the growing numbers of plug-in hybrids in European markets fostered mostly by local OEMs

E-Mobility Sales Data


Although the European automotive industry was hit by the effects of COVID-19 from mid-March, registrations of electrified cars continued to grow strongly in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the equivalent quarter of last year. Within the first three months of this year, 313,000 new electrified vehicles were registered in the EU Top 5 markets (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK), marking a total increase of 58%. The reason for this growth is to be found in both a pull factor of customers who are interested in e-mobility and a push factor of OEMs seeking to place electric vehicles in the market in order to meet CO2 fleet emission targets.

Taking a closer look at the growth rates, the figures show that this boom was mainly driven by PHEVs
as the strongest-growing segment (+149%) due to increasing product availability followed by BEVs with a growth rate of 120%. Registrations of hybrid cars continued to climb with a rise of 27% compared to the first quarter of 2019.

These developments were fostered by stand-out markets like Germany where overall registrations went up by 81.3% with a remarkable boom in PHEVs (+266.8%; 26,407 units). European EV leaders such as the Netherlands show exponential growth rates (+40.7% regarding EV registrations), while Norway reached a market share of 80.2%.



The Chinese market for electric vehicles continues to shrink due to subsidy cuts as well as the effects of COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020. Total EV registration numbers plummeted by 53%, with comparable declines across all categories. BEV registrations declined by 58%, PHEVs by 51% and hybrids by 37%, resulting in 135,000 new units within Q1. This massive drop is also the main reason for the shrinking global market growth of EVs.

In order to support the post-crisis market recovery, China has decided to extend sales subsidies for NEV (BEV and PHEV) and tax breaks for two years. These measures are forecast to reinstate China as the largest EV sales market within the year 2020 and further extend its total market share.


Registrations of PHEVs and hybrids declined by 8% and 13% respectively. However, BEV sales increased by 15% to 46,000 units compared to the first quarter of last year. This was again mainly due to best-selling vehicles like the Tesla Model 3.

The impact of COVID-19 measures on sales is expected to be severe in April 2020, as well as in the months ahead. Due to the further relaxation of federal fuel efficiency standards, automakers offer EV products for strategic and product-feature reasons rather than compliance. Given the participation of established brands as well as well-funded startups, the segment holds out the promise of intriguing new entries and significant growth prospects.  

About the "E-Mobility Sales Review" by PwC and Strategy&

PwC Autofacts® and Strategy& have analyzed e-mobility sales worldwide in the first quarter of 2020.

Contact us

Felix Kuhnert

Felix Kuhnert

Partner, PwC Germany

Dr. Jörn Neuhausen

Dr. Jörn Neuhausen

Director, Strategy& Germany