The best-selling electric and plug-in hybrid cars of 2018

The best-selling electric and plug-in hybrid cars of 2018

Sales of electrified passenger cars went up 340% over the course of last year


Figures for car sales throughout 2018 show that it was a very good year for sustainable mobility. And especially for electric cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids. It is true that drivers are increasingly committed to protecting the environment. But there are also other factors, such as restrictions on traffic in big cities and the rise in the price of fossil fuels, which explain the unstoppable demand for this type of vehicle. As a result, the vast majority of manufacturers now include alternative models with ECO or ZERO labels in their catalogues. Although hybrids led sales in 2018 – with 75,768 units out of a total of 1,321,438 registrations, according to data from ANFAC – electric and plug-in hybrids, with 11,809, have pushed hard.

Sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids in Catalonia in 2018

With regard to registrations of electric cars and plug-in hybrids in Catalonia during last year, the figures handled by ANFAC are also encouraging, though still somewhat restrained. 1,611 units were sold in 2017, and 1,794 in 2018 – an increase of 11%. But if we compare the vehicles with these energy sources sold in December 2017 – 149 – with those registered in the same month of 2018 – 178 – the percentage sales growth comes in at 19.5%. Of the total passenger cars – 185,105 – sold in Catalonia last year, 1,124 were electric, while plug-in hybrids reached 702 sales. Again, behind conventional non-plug-in hybrids (petrol and diesel), with 12,256 sales, and in this case also of gas-powered passenger cars – LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas) – with ECO label and with 4,187 units sold.

Listed below are the best-selling electric models and plug-in hybrids in Spain last year:


Top 5 electric cars




Share of electric market



























These zero-emission vehicles, with 6,131 units sold in 2018, have seen rapidly growing sales: while 315 cars of this type were registered in January 2018, this figure was 1,386 in December. The increase, in a single year, was 340%, and with regard to total sales of electrified cars in 2017, in which 4,106 units were sold, the increase was 50%. The figures are, without doubt, spectacular. “Today, the pace of the electric vehicle’s introduction to the market is 16 times faster than that of the conventional hybrid in its infancy,” says David Barrientos, Communications Manager at Nissan. For its part, the marketing department of Renault testifies that “despite the small amount of rolling stock that electric represents, year on year registrations increase, thanks, in part, to the wide range of cars that vehicle manufacturers offer.”

100% electric cars with a range of 250 kilometres

The range of this type of car is perhaps what deters the buyer. But it must be said that there are brands which, for affordable prices, now offer up to 250 kilometres. Barrientos continues: “Electrified vehicles represented barely 0.9% of sales in 2018 in Spain, while other European countries are already approaching 3% (in Germany and France). And they are still far from the Norwegian efficient market paradigm, where electric sales represent 50%.” The trend, according to data handled by the executive of Nissan, indicates that the electric passenger vehicle market continues to grow. “In fact, there are now cars of this type leading markets in Europe. This is the case of the Nissan LEAF in Norway, the top-selling car there,” concludes Barrientos.

Top 5 plug-in hybrid cars




Share of plug-in hybrid market





















During 2018, a total of 5,678 plug-in hybrid passenger cars were sold (those with a proven, fully electric range of at least 50 km). Although this market is still modest compared to hybrids, the increase in registrations has been considerable: it has gone from 374 units sold in January to 831 in December, which represents an increase of 122%. Compared to 2017, with total sales of 3,342 units, the increase has been almost 70%. It must also be taken into account that the cars available of this type come from ‘premium’ brands and, therefore, these vehicles are more expensive. According to Barrientos, “the cars with plug-in hybrid mechanics are the transition, the intermediate step towards pure electric, which will be consolidated in two or three years”.

In any case, Renault reports that, according to the announcement at the last edition of the Paris Motor Show, “emblematic vehicles such as the Megane and Captur models with this alternative technology” will soon be seen. (In addition, the Clio, Megane and Captur models will be marketed as non-plug-in hybrids). “It’s about offering the customer a range of products that fit their needs according to electrification strategies,” says the French brand.

Although the sales figures of plug-in hybrids are fairly good, it should be highlighted that they are still behind registrations of 100% electric cars: 831 registrations compared to 1,836 in December 2018.

The unstoppable advance of the electric vehicle

“The electric vehicle today is a reality, and it will become more so as people’s ‘fears’ disappear as they use them, and as the infrastructure for recharging becomes wider and allows travel of greater distances,” concludes Barrientos. Renault agrees with this statement and elaborates: “The advance of clean energy is an unstoppable process over time, although its development depends on several factors: 1) A charging network that provides solutions to users of electric cars (infrastructure). 2) Government aid, in the form of subsidies, for the acquisition of the electrified car. 3) Economies of scale and research of the different technologies should aim to reduce costs and increase the range of vehicles.”

Coexistence of all available energy sources until 2050

Furthermore, according to the XX Global Automotive Executive Survey (GAES) of the consultancy KPMG, “a fairly equitable distribution of the manufacture of battery electric vehicles (30%), hybrids (25%), fuel cell electric vehicles (23%) and internal combustion engines (23%) worldwide by 2040” is predicted. In reference to Spain, ANFAC predicts, until 2050, a coexistence of all available energy sources: “The sales forecasts of the electric vehicle around the world point to a 25% share in 2023 and 50% in 2040”.

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