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February global EV sales fall 21% as Chinese market slows: S&P Global Platts

Highlights

February sales fall to 122,000, led by drop in Asian markets

China sales drop on seasonal factors, subsidy cuts

February global EV sales up 43% on year

London — Global sales of plug-in electric vehicles fell by 21% in February month on month, led by a sharp fall in China due to seasonal factors and ahead of the government cutting subsidies for EVs in March, S&P Global Platts Analytics said in a report Monday.

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Global EV sales fell to 122,288 units in February, compared with 154,317 units sold in January, the figures showed, with the biggest drop seen in China - the world's largest producer of EVs.

"As anticipated in our 4Q 2018 EV Scorecard, China's central government has announced a roll-back of their plug-in electric (PEV) purchase subsidies," Platts Analytics said in the report.

"Subsidy for PEVs with an all-electric range >250 miles was reduced by half, thresholds to receive lower subsidy amounts were tightened, and local government subsidies began a 3-month full phase-out," it said.

The latest figures show that the global growth of EVs continues, but at a slower pace than seen in late 2018.

The February global sales figure compares with just 85,286 units sold in February 2018, showing that despite the recent drop in sales, the longer-term trend continues to show growth in EV sales worldwide, with a 43% year-on-year gain.

In Europe, EV sales growth has been relatively steady over the last 12 months, while growth in the US outperformed Europe for much of that period, before falling below European sales since December 2018.

But it was Asian markets where a more dramatic change happened, with the sales figures showing exceptional growth in late 2018 before falling sharply since the start of 2019.

"Indeed there was a roll-back of EV subsidies in China, but this did not happen until mid-to-late March," said Zane McDonald, senior transportation and technology analyst at Platts Analytics.

"The cooling down of February EV sales in China is likely due more to both macro-economic and seasonal trends. We anticipate lower absolute sales volumes at the beginning of the year," he said, pointing to bad weather, the Chinese Lunar New Year, and lack of pressure from annual sales quotas on dealerships, all against a backdrop of a recent broader slow-down in China's auto market.

Despite this slow-down, Chinese plug-in EVs still experienced 68% year-on-year gains in sales in February 2019.

East China's Anhui Province has announced plans to install 180,000 charging poles and 500 battery swapping stations by the end of 2020, according to the report.

Within Europe, the latest available figures are for Q4 2018, when a total of 110,048 EVs were sold. That compares with sales of 90,242 in Q3, 2018, and 86,488 a year ago in Q4, 2017.

Meanwhile the Australian coalition government has announced it would not move forward on a national PEV strategy until mid-2020 at the earliest.

"Australia remains one of the few highly industrialized nations that has not adopted an electrification strategy," Platts Analytics said.

In the US, lawmakers in the state of California proposed a bill that would mandate a 40% reduction in on-road medium and heavy duty truck emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050.

"Compliance with this bill would largely require a phasing-out of traditional fossil fuel powered trucks, a segment notoriously challenging to decarbonize," Platts Analytics said.

Platts Analytics' EV Essentials service collects vetted historical data to track the progression of EV sales growth, related trends, prices and impacts in key emerging auto markets around the world.

-- Frank Watson, frank.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Gareth Carpenter, newsdesk@spglobal.com