Electromobility is decided by design

Most traditional car manufacturers really missed out on the entry into electromobility. Until they were caught by surprise by absolute newcomers – first and foremost by the start-up Tesla. What else could they do but hastily follow suit? Popular models were quickly equipped with an electric drive and electromobility line up was complete. Tesla also started that way. But many manufacturers were not really happy with these cars in conversion design. In the meantime, however, electrification can no longer be stopped. Hence more and more manufacturers are deciding to also design vehicles in the so-called Purpose Design. Or soon only those – because some have already announced their exit from the world of combustion engines.

Purpose Design models are based on a platform that is exclusively tailored to the special features of an electric vehicle. The car is literally developed around the battery. This offers many opportunities but it’s also expensive. Conversion models will be on the market for another while. JATO Dynamics has therefore taken a close look at their registrations and analysed the market situation.

The following models are currently available in both internal combustion engine and pure battery electric drive (BEV) versions:

  • Citroen C4
  • DS 3 Crossback
  • Fiat 500
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Mini
  • Opel Corsa, Mokka and Zafira
  • Peugeot 208, 2008 and Traveller
  • Renault Twingo
  • Toyota Proace and Verso
  • Volvo XC-40

Of the models mentioned, sales of the electric model increased steadily until the end of 2020, and their share has hovered around 30 percent since then. Since February last year, some of them have also been offered as mild hybrids (MHEV). The MHEVs have a 48-volt battery to electrically support the combustion engine. This reduces fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions.


The Fiat 500 is a particularly popular MHEV, with a share of 57 percent already. BEV models account for 40 percent and only three percent are still accounted for by the pure combustion engine.

For the Hyundai Kona, too, the trend leans towards the electric model. On average, 67 percent of all Kona registrations in 2021 will be for the BEV variant. The rest is divided between petrol models (15 percent), hybrids (8 percent) and mild hybrids (10 percent).

Volkswagen is the industry leader in electric vehicles

Let’s now compare a model that was temporarily offered as a combustion engine and as a BEV before the BEV variant was replaced by a newly developed vehicle in the Purpose design. From 2014 onwards, the VW Golf was also available as an electric version, until it had to make way for the ID.3, which had been introduced shortly before.

Compared to the vehicles mentioned above, things look a little different for the VW Golf – at least at first glance. In percentage terms, the e-Golf was not able to displace its brothers with combustion engines as much as other manufacturers did. However: until July 2020, the electric Golf sold better than all other BEV models in this comparison combined. And this strong performance seems to be continued by the ID.3, the first VW model developed as a pure electric vehicle. Other models that are offered exclusively as BEV variants, such as the Tesla, Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf or the Mercedes EQ models, were not considered for this comparison.

Nevertheless, it is impressive that in almost every month one of Volkswagen’s BEV models was the front-runner in this comparison. Only the Hyundai Kona has occasionally managed to leave the Wolfsburg phalanx behind. In August 2020, 15 more units were sold than the e-Golf, in November 2020 25 more and in March 2021 as many as 948 more units than the ID.3. The first Volkswagen in the Purpose Design therefore does not necessarily seem to be more successful than the converted Golf. Rather, the success story of the Golf seems to be continuing. And it can be assumed that, over time, models developed as pure electric vehicles will generally prevail over conversions.

More information on JATO can be found here.

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