In Europe, car makers experienced a successful year overall, with sales on the rise. However, the end of the year brought a setback as battery electric vehicle sales dropped by 25% compared to the previous year’s December figures. Plug-in hybrid sales also saw a decline of 34%. Even so, new car sales only experienced a slight decrease of 4%.
Completing the global picture for investors, data on China and the U.S. had already been disclosed. Looking specifically at passenger vehicle sales in these three major markets, it’s evident that car makers had a positive year overall.
Throughout 2023, the European auto market saw an impressive growth rate. New car sales increased by almost 14%, while battery electric vehicle sales surged by 28%. In contrast, plug-in hybrid sales remained relatively stable. Both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids accounted for around 20% and 8%, respectively, of all passenger vehicles sold in Europe.
Moving over to the United States, battery electric vehicles accounted for just over 8% of passenger vehicle sales in the last quarter of 2023 and under 8% for the entire year. On the other hand, plug-in hybrids made up approximately 7% of new car sales. Overall, electrified vehicles constituted roughly 15% of new car sales in America for the year.
In terms of market share for electric vehicles, Europe takes the lead with about 23% of total sales attributed to cars that plug in. Interestingly, there were two battery electric vehicles sold for every plug-in hybrid in Europe.
The growth rate for battery electric vehicle sales in the U.S. reached approximately 45% in 2023. Combining both regions, a total of three million battery electric vehicles were sold.
Looking ahead, while growth is expected to slow in 2024, forecasts for car maker stocks remain positive. The temporary downturn in European sales at the end of the year should not overshadow the overall success of the auto market in 2023.
Electric Vehicle Market in China
China has emerged as the leading market for electric vehicles (EVs) with a staggering six million BEV sales in 2023, marking a 25% increase compared to the previous year. According to Jeff Chung, an analyst at Citi, BEVs accounted for approximately 27% of all light vehicles sold in China. Additionally, plug-in hybrid sales reached 2.7 million units, contributing to about 12% of new car sales.
Overall, cars that can be plugged in made up almost 40% of the new car market in China. Similar to European consumers, Chinese buyers preferred BEVs over plug-in hybrids, with a ratio of two BEVs to one plug-in hybrid.
In 2023, a total of nine million BEVs were sold in China, the United States, and Europe, indicating a 30% year-over-year growth. However, this growth rate was slightly lower compared to the 55% growth observed in 2022. In terms of BEV penetration in the new car sales market, these three regions experienced an increase from 12.5% in 2022 to approximately 17% in 2023.
While the overall auto sales in these regions reached around 53 million units in 2023, representing an 8% year-over-year increase, industry forecasts suggest that this growth will moderate to approximately 2% or 3%. These projections align with Wall Street expectations, as major auto manufacturers such as Ford Motor and General Motors anticipate a growth rate of around 2.4% in 2024.
The future growth of the electric vehicle market largely depends on the state of the global economy. In addition to economic factors, the ability of auto manufacturers to reduce costs and convince potential buyers to embrace electric cars will also play crucial roles in determining the sales volume.