Plug-In Hybrid Sales Are Outpacing EVs

Photo: Porsche
Photo: Porsche

Good morning! It’s Friday, March 22, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Plug-In Hybrids Are Outpacing EV Sales

Electric vehicle sales in America are doing alright; they now account for roughly 10 percent of all cars sold across the country, and that figure keeps growing. But do you know what figure is growing quicker? The number of plug-in hybrid models being sold around the world.

Demand for plug-in hybrid models is far outpacing that of battery-powered cars, reports Automotive News. The site explained that sales of PHEVs grew faster than those of fully-electric models across Europe in February, reversing a trend that had seen EV sales soar in recent years. As the site explains:


Plug-in hybrid sales rose 12 percent to 72,376 last month compared with February 2023, while BEV sales increased by 10.3 percent, according to figures from industry association ACEA released on Thursday.

Preliminary figures from market analyst Dataforce – minus statistics for several smaller countries — showed that plug-in hybrids and BEVs grew at the same pace. Full-electric car sales were up 11 percent, while plug-in hybrids gained 10.9 percent, Dataforce figures showed.

Significantly, plug-in hybrids outpaced the overall market, which was up 10.3 percent, according to ACEA. Dataforce figures showed market growth of 10.3 percent.

According to the site, the best-selling plug-ins across Europe are the Volvo XC60, the Porsche Cayenne and the Mercedes GLC, with a combined 11,000 units sold across the bloc in February. Plug-in models are also gathering pace in the U.S., where automakers like General Motors have announced plans to increase investment in the sector.

2nd Gear: 285,000 Dodge and Chrysler Cars Recalled

After the Takata airbag inflator recall impacted millions of cars across America, another potentially defective inflator is now parking recalls across the country. Stellantis has been forced to issue a recall affecting more than 280,000 cars due to side curtain airbag inflators that could throw shrapnel into the cabin when they go off.

The second Stellantis airbag recall to be announced this week affects 284,982 cars, including Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 models, reports Reuters. The recall, which was announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier today affects cars built between 2018-2021 that were fitted with SABIC inflators. As the NHTSA explains:

Chrysler (FCA US, LLC) (Stellantis) is recalling certain 2018-2021 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 vehicles. The right and left side curtain airbag inflators may rupture due to a manufacturing defect.

An inflator rupture may result in sharp metal fragments striking occupants, resulting in injury or death.

Dealers will replace both side curtain airbags, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed May 3, 2024.

The slightly explosive airbag inflators are as a result of moisture that may have found its way into the components during production. The moisture inside could corrode the parts, weakening them so they could explode when they go off.

An investigation into the defective parts was launched last year, and its findings encouraged Stellantis and the NHTSA to issue the recall notice. So far, Stellantis has been made aware of five customer assistance records in relation to the issue. It has also had two warranty claims filed, but has so far received no field reports of the explosive airbags.

3rd Gear: Ex-Bentley Boss Is New Aston Martin CEO

It’s time for a game of musical chairs at Britain’s most luxurious car companies, as the boss of Bentley is jumping ship to Aston Martin after Aston’s current CEO, Amedeo Felisa, announced intentions to step down ahead of his 78th birthday. Happy birthday, Amedeo.

Adrian Hallmark, who is currently in charge at Bentley, will take the helm of Aston Martin, becoming the company’s third CEO in four years, reports British outlet Autocar. As the site explains:

Hallmark has left Bentley with immediate effect, and will start his new role in Gaydon “no later than 1 October 2024", said Aston in a statement.

Felisa – who was CEO of Ferrari from 2008 to 2016 – will be busy in his final months as boss, with Aston ramping up to replace the DBS and launch the Valhalla supercar by the end of this year.

According to a statement from Bentley, Hallmark is now busy “preparing for new tasks outside the Volkswagen Group.” Felisa is, meanwhile, getting ready for the “transition to new leadership,” reports Reuters.

4th Gear: New Car Sales Are Still Rising

Despite it feeling like everything is getting more expensive and harder to track down, that hasn’t stopped Americans from buying cars. Lots and lots of cars. So many, in fact, that sales of new cars are predicted to rise by double digits in March 2024.

According to new figures shared by Reuters, sales of new cars are projected to grow by more than 12 percent in March, fueled by strong demand for new cars and increased inventory at dealers across the country. As Reuters explains:

Total new-vehicle sales for March 2024, including retail and non-retail transactions, are expected to reach 1,525,700 units, a 12.1% jump from a year ago.

Average transaction prices are trending toward $44,186, down 3.6% from March 2023, while average incentive spend per vehicle has grown 66.6% from a year ago and on track to reach $2,800.

Total retailer profit per unit is expected to decline by around 32% in the month.

The declining profits at automotive retailers across the country might ring alarm bells for dealers, but it could offer a glimmer of hope for anyone in the market for a new car. According to Reuters, the lower profits are as a result of increased inventory and more cars sitting unsold on dealer lots. As such, some are being forced to cut prices as “competitive pressures intensifies.”

Reverse: A Dark Day For Car Design

On The Radio: Foals - ‘Hummer’

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