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European OEMs Downsizing, Going Electric

European OEMs Downsizing, Going Electric

Hybrids, excluding plug-ins, marginally grew to 1.5% in 2015, or an estimated 175,200 units, from 1.4%, or 205,500 one year earlier, according to an annual report on the EU market.​

European automakers are inching forward with powertrain plans focused on smaller engines, more transmission steps and additional hybrid-electric and all-electric propulsion systems.

According to 2016-2017 European Vehicle Market Statistics from International Council on Clean Transportation in Washington, the percentage of diesel-engine cars sold in the European Union in 2015 declined to 52% from 53% one year earlier.

But because demand for new cars of all powertrain types grew 9.5% to 13.7 million units, diesel sales increased an estimated 491,000 to volume of 7.1 million. Of the 1.7 million light trucks sold during the year, diesels accounted for 97%.

In the car segment, Volkswagen was the diesel-market leader on an estimated 911,620 sales. The German automaker was followed by BMW, also of Germany, at 556,600 and France’s Renault with 541,575.

Gasoline cars, excluding hybrids, declined slightly in 2015 to 44%, from an estimated 44.5% in 2014. But again because of growth in overall demand, volume rose from 5.6 million to 6 million.

Cars with gasoline direct-injection technology accounted for 40% of the total, or around 2.4 million units, up from 35% or 2 million units in 2014. In 2005, GDI appeared on a mere 3%, or 232,000, of cars sold in the EU.

Hybrids, excluding plug-ins, marginally grew to 1.5%, or an estimated 175,200 units, from 1.4%, or 205,500 sales. Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, held the largest share at 27% on estimated volume of 144,510 out of group sales of 537,206.

Separately, the European Automobile Manufacturers Assn. (ACEA) reported 176,525 hybrid sales in 2014 and 217,261 deliveries in 2015 with the largest volume, an estimated 56,030 units, sold in France. The total includes mild hybrids. Between January and September 2015, sales totaled 200,854 units, up 27.1% over the same period of 2014.

PHEV demand rose from 0.2% to 0.6% with unit sales more than doubling from an estimated 37,550 to 82,200.

EVs inched ahead to 0.4%, from 0.3%, and from an estimated 37,540 to 54,800 units. Renault and its Japanese alliance partner Nissan ranked Nos.1 and 2 on sales estimated at 16,150 and 12,970, respectively.

ACEA reported PHEV and EV sales in the period of 146,161 units, up 108.8% over 2014. Between January and September of 2015, sales grew 18.9% to 105,241 units. The largest market last year was the Netherlands at 43,441 units.

In vehicles powered by conventional engines, the average number of cylinders per engine was unchanged from 2014 at 3.9, although down from 4.0 in 2010 and 4.1 in 2005. French brands Peugeot and Citroen reported the fewest cylinders per car at 3.6, while German luxury makers Audi, BMW and Mercedes reported the highest at 4.3.

Meanwhile, average engine displacement in 2015 declined to 1,599 cc from 1,607 cc, while power increased to 125 hp from 121 hp. In 2005, displacement and power totaled 1,732 cc and 110 hp, respectively, while in 2010 the metrics stood at 1,633 cc and 113 hp.

In the light-truck segment, average power and displacement in 2015 totaled  117 hp and 1,903 cc.

Against this backdrop, average CO2 emissions of cars in 2015 fell to 120 g/km from 123 grams/km in 2014, while fuel economy increased to 4.9L/100 km (48 mpg), from 5.0L/100 km (47 mpg) in the New European Driving Cycle. In 2005 and 2010, respectively, CO2 emission and fuel economy averaged 162 g/km and 6.5L/100 km (36 mpg) and 143 g/km and 5.8L/100 km (41 mpg).

The CO2 emissions level in 2015 finished significantly lower than the 2015 target of 130 g/km set by the EU. In 2020, 95% of manufacturer fleets must reach 95 g/km and then 100% in 2021.

Emitting the smallest volumes of CO2, because of their relative size and weight, were cars built by Peugeot, Citroen and Renault at 104 g/km, 106 g/km and 106 g/km, respectively. Toyota, on the strength of its hybrids, came in fourth at 108 g/km.

Transmission steps in 2015 increased somewhat to an average of 5.8 gears, up from 5.7 earlier, while the share of automatic gearboxes rose to 25% from 23%. In 2008, the first year the council kept transmission data, automatic transmissions were installed in 13% of cars sold and the average number of gears was 5.3.

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