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Plug-in hybrids set for rapid rise but trouble looms

But, as Mitsubishi winds down its operations in Europe, premium automakers are lining up to take its place.

A huge 27 percent of Volvo’s Western European sales after seven months were plug-in hybrids, according to data from analyst Matthias Schmidt’s European Electric Car Report.

DS Automobiles ranked No. 3 with 18.8 percent. Porsche was next with 17.4 percent, followed by Bentley at 9.8 percent, all of which comes from the plug-in hybrid version of its Bentayga SUV.

The three German premium automakers are rapidly increasing their plug-in hybrid lineups, with BMW posting the greatest share at 9.6 percent of its overall Western European sales.

New plug-in hybrid models from BMW include the X1 and X2 compact SUVs, as well as the X3 midsize SUV and more versions of the 3 Series, including a station wagon variant with the powertrain.

BMW has said it will have “at least 12” plug-in hybrids available globally by the end of the year.

While Audi didn’t make the top 10 based on plug-in hybrid share in the first seven months, the VW Group subsidiary is pushing aggressively into the market. Audi models now available with plug-in hybrid drivetrains include the Q5 and Q7 SUVs as well as the A6, A7 and A8 large cars. Coming soon is a replacement for the A3 compact plug-in hybrid. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, now offers 15 plug-in hybrids, depending on market, including six compacts.

The drivetrain is a lifeline to otherwise diesel-dependent Jaguar Land Rover, which currently offers plug-in versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. JLR also recently announced it will add plug-in hybrid variants of the Range Rover Velar midsize SUV, Range Rover Evoque compact SUV, Land Rover Discovery compact SUV, Defender large utility vehicle and the Jaguar F-Pace midsize SUV.

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