Will The U.S. Catch-Up

by Dennis Machicao

Well, it looks like the U.S. is loosing the race in having more Plug-In Electrified Vehicles (PEV) on the road than Europe has. The PEV seemed like the trend of the future in combating high energy prices and lessening environmental pollution.

But according to an article in hydbridCARS.com by Jeff Cobb, Europe has surpassed the U.S. in the sale of these types of cars and there are a number of reasons why.

For one, it seems that Europe has many more models of PEV’s to choose from, 45 compared to 20 in North America that includes the US and Canada. Although the amount of passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. surpassed Europe, Europe is up 86 percent year after year in PEV sales surpassing the United States and the gap is widening according to Mr. Cobb. There were European plug-in hybrids and battery electric passenger car registrations of 133,000 compared the 91,496 in the U.S. last year.

Granted the small European car models do not generate too much interest for the American full size auto psyche, but there is a model that can get the American car consumers’ attention that is the all time top selling electric car in Europe and will only now be introduced in the U.S. in mid 2016, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This is a full size off-road SUV.

Of the top 10 best selling PEV vehicles in Europe, 5 are not sold in the US:

  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Renault ZOE
  • Volkswagen Golf GTE
  • Audi A3 e-tron
  • Volvo V60 PHEV

And the Kia Soul EV, with its biggest market in Germany, is only sold in the U.S. in very limited markets. Other PEV brands, not just models, that are sold in Europe and not in the U.S. are Citroen, Peugeot, Renault, Bollare and Goupil.

As in the United States, Europe offers incentives for electric car ownership, like tax breaks, but the incentives on the Continent are much more plentiful such as driving privileges, free parking, free ferry travel and many more.

The incentive are also geared towards the automobile manufacturer and they are much more potent. Unlike in the U.S. where car manufacturers offer hybrid and electric models that just comply with California emission standards and sold in limited markets, the European manufactures have to comply with government regulators that demand more PEV’s to satisfy stricter emissions compliance, preventing financial penalties of $1billon in some cases.

Currently the price of fuel has gone down dramatically in the US (in some places lower than $2.00 a gallon) making hybrid/electric cars not so attractive. In Europe the price of gas has also gone down but not as drastic.

According to Mr. Cobb, one can pay $4.54 per gallon in Austria, $5.15 in France, $5.49 in Sweden, $6.02 in Italy and as high as $6.40 a gallon in the Netherlands. Thus the incentive in owning a PEV for the European consumer is much higher than it is here. Also it seems that Europeans are much more aware of climate changes due to environmental pollution than Americans are. In the U.S. there has been some speculation that global warming really is happening.

In conclusion it seems that PEVs are here to stay and for the moment European automobile manufacturers are leading the way. Whether gas prices stay low or increase again to revamp interest of PEVs in the U.S. is hard to say but the American automobile manufactures have to stay in the game and not let other foreign brands pass them by as in past years.

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