Australians have bought more plug-in hybrids from China than any other country so far this year, with the country’s cheapest PHEV also its most popular.
Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in Australia in the first half of 2022 have more than doubled compared to the same period last year, with nearly 3000 vehicles reported as sold.
Claimed to blend the best of petrol and electric power, PHEV sales are not growing as fast (104 per cent) as fully-electric vehicle sales (127 per cent, excluding Tesla) – but they are outpacing the growth in ‘conventional’ hybrid sales (12 per cent).
Driving the sales growth is a broader range of plug-in hybrid vehicles on sale, from 21 to 25 nameplates, now including the Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, BMW X3 and others – but losing others, such as the Kia Niro and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
By far and away the best-selling plug-in hybrid so far in 2022 is the MG HS Plus EV, with 897 examples reported as sold over the first half of the year – more than double the second-placed finisher, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV (409 sales).
The MG’s sales exceed those of the next three models combined – and beat its sales for the first half of 2021 by 353 per cent (though it only launched last March), and the entirety of 2021 by nearly 55 per cent.
The Plus EV’s sales result means that, in combination with the Volvo XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid, Australians bought more PHEVs built in China than from any other manufacturing nation (second was Japan, with 605 sales).
Leading the luxury PHEV sales race was the Mercedes-Benz GLC300e – with 211 reported sales, up 48 per cent year-on-year – followed by two Volvos, the XC60 (170 sales, up 6.3 per cent) and XC90 (149 per cent, up 86 per cent).
Last year’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, reported only 50 sales in the first half of 2022 – compared to 251 in the first six months of 2021 – due to a changeover between old and new models, the latter due in showrooms next month.
Other PHEVs reporting sales growth year-on-year – albeit from low bases – include the BMW X5 xDrive45e (108 sales, up 56.5 per cent), Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in (47 sales, up 38.2 per cent), and Ferrari’s PHEV range (12 sales, up from six).
However, not all PHEVs recorded sales increases – with BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s plug-in hatchbacks and sedans particularly hard-hit, down as much as 82 per cent for BMW (the 530e, from 17 to three) and 24 per cent for Mercedes (the A250e, from 33 to 25).
Supply is likely to have influenced these results – as well as, in the case of the BMW 745e (and Range Rover Sport P400e), the wind-down in production ahead of the arrival of new-generation donor models.
New plug-in hybrids coming soon
The next 18 months promise to be busy for buyers of plug-in hybrids in Australia.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.