Europe Electric Car Sales — 16% of New Cars Fully Electric, 24% Have a Plug

After over a year in the red, Europe was back in black in August, with a 3% growth rate. September confirmed the trend with a 9% increase in market sales, signaling that the worst of the production constraints might be over. Although, with an energy-derived recession knocking on the door, this uptick might not last for long….

Looking at the plugin vehicle market in particular, things are also better. Approximately 250,000 plugin vehicles were registered in September, 7% growth compared to the same month of 2021. Last month was the best month since March. Looking closer, we can see that the European plugin vehicle market isn’t as bad as one might imagine at first sight.

What is happening is that Europe seems to be dropping the PHEV addiction, proven by the fact that BEVs grew 16% year over year (YoY) in September (+26% YTD) to some 165,000 units. That’s a new year best for the BEV powertrain. With PHEVs continuing to drop (their last positive month was in February), BEVs represented 66% of plugin sales in September, a significant improvement over the 59% yearly average.

With greater BEV availability in the coming months and more stringent incentives for PHEVs next year in many European countries, expect this ratio to continue improving on the BEV side. We could possibly reach something like 80% BEV vs 20% PHEV during 2023. This would be a great improvement over the 54% BEV vs 46% PHEV ratio that we had in both 2020 and 2021.

Last month’s plugin vehicle share of the overall European auto market was 24% (16% full electrics/BEVs), pulling the 2022 plugin vehicle (PEV) share to 21% (12% for BEVs alone).

A highlight last month was the Tesla Model Y taking the leadership position, not only on the plugin category, but overall! With Tesla’s crossover #1 overall in both China and Europe last month, you know where this is going, don’t you? … (wink, wink*)

Let’s look closer at September’s top 5 plugin vehicles in Europe.

#1 Tesla Model Y — The youngest family member of the Tesla family had a historic month in September, hitting an amazing 29,595 registrations, a new all-time for any EV in Europe. This beat the Volkswagen ID.3’s previous record, set in the pre-registration fever month of December 2020. This allowed the US EV to also win the overall best seller title in September, all powertrains counted! With Giga Berlin still ramping up production, and the Standard Range version coming soon from China, expect the crossover to continue improving its deliveries throughout Q4. Could the Model Y improve this record result next December?

Regarding September, Europe’s best selling EV shined in its borrowed home of Germany, with a massive 9,846 registrations, making the Tesla Model Y September’s best selling car in Germany — fossil fuel models included! The Model Y’s performance was also exuberant in the UK, with 8,315 deliveries, allowing it to make 2nd place there last month. The crossover also hit four-digit scores in Norway (3,063 units), Austria (1,421), and France (1,261).

#2 Tesla Model 3 — It was a great month for Tesla in Europe, taking the #1 and #2 spots. The Model 3 had 11,705 registrations. But looking closer, things aren’t as rosy as one might expect, because comparing the Q3 quarterly average deliveries with that of Q3 2021, the Model 3 saw its sales drop by 56%! So, now you know where a large chunk of the Model Y sales come from…. The current 4,968 units/month average is below that of the rising VW ID.4 (5,801 units/month) and not that far from the averages of the Skoda Enyaq (4,725) and Fiat 500e (4,708). The Tesla midsizer will most likely end the year in the runner-up position, providing a gold + silver win for Tesla this year, but expect the VW ID.4 to replace it next year in the #2 spot. The Model 3 will even have to struggle to remain on the podium, as the aforementioned Skoda and Fiat models, along with others, will be competing for the bronze position. Back to last month’s performances, the Tesla EV had its best score in Germany (3,378 registrations), followed by France (2,202 registrations), the UK (1,650 registrations), and Switzerland (817 registrations).

#3 Volkswagen ID.4 — The star of Volkswagen Group ended the month on a high note again, having its best performance so far this year. The German crossover got 6,717 registrations. With its production constraints mostly surpassed, the USA allocation now being produced locally, and the start of Emden production, expect a higher production output for the European ID.4. Volkswagen is hoping to reach 10,000 units a month by December, a necessary threshold to cross in order for the crossover to remain relevant globally, as regular 5-digit performances in Europe will be needed to add to the Chinese 5-digit performances. It could then reach between 200,000 and 300,000 deliveries in 2023. Regarding September deliveries, the Volkswagen EV had its best score in Germany (1,941 units) and Norway (919 units), followed by the UK (650 units), Sweden (595 units), and Austria (513 units).

#4 Fiat 500e — The little Italian was cruising in September, with 5,076 registrations, which somehow was below expectations, as people expected the cute EV to reach 6,000-something units. Is demand starting to slow down? Then bring on that Abarth hot hatch version! It won’t move much more metal, but the halo effect will be important to pull the cheaper version’s sales upwards. Last month, the 500e’s main markets were the usual — Germany (1,881 units) and France (1,269 units) in the lead, with its native Italy (449 units) and the UK (550 units) also providing a significant contribution to the tally.

#5 Dacia Spring — Renault had high hopes for its low-cost EV, and although one cannot say it’s been a game changer, the Sino-Romanian EV has earned its place in the market. It’s an honest, usable-range EV for more cost conscious buyers, proving that not everyone needs a hulking two-tonne SUV EV to do the daily errands. The small EV got another top 5 presence in September thanks to 4,884 registrations.

Regarding September deliveries, the tiny CUV had by far its best score in France (2,170 registrations). The French President recently announced a small EV subsidy increase for lower income families, which can only stimulate Dacia EV demand in the coming months. The next best markets were Germany (1,317 registrations), Dacia’s native Romania (642 registrations), and Portugal as the 4th largest market (with a relatively low 158 deliveries). There’s still plenty of low-hanging fruit waiting to be picked by the small EV.

Looking at the rest of the September table, two compact EVs have been picking up the pace in the first half of the table. The #9 Volkswagen ID.3 had 4,395 registrations, its best score so far this year, while the stylish Renault Megane EV ended the month in #7, with a record 4,570 units, managing to beat its German rival in the race for the top of the compact hatchback category. But with the dragon slayer MG 4 already making its first steps in Europe, the question will be how these two EVs will resist the unbeatable price/quality/range package of the Sino-British model.

The #10 Ford Kuga PHEV was only one of two plugin hybrid models on the table, along with the #17 Hyundai Tucson PHEV, which speaks volumes about the hard times now experienced by PHEVs in Europe.

In the second half of the table, there was plenty to talk about, from the year-best scores of the #12 Hyundai Kona EV and Mini Cooper EV, to the record scores of the #13 Cupra Born (the MEB-platform output continues to rise), the #14 Volvo XC40 BEV (it seems Volvo is finally going all in on BEVs), the #19 Opel Mokka EV (the stylish small crossover is doing its best to make Opel look cool again), and … the #18 MG 5.

This last one deserves a few lines dedicated not so much to it but to the inaction of European OEMs regarding electric station wagons. After years in denial, for example, Volkswagen could have easily made a BEV e-Golf Variant, if it wanted to. Instead, it was necessary for China’s SAIC, owner of MG, to bring a reasonably priced electric station wagon to Europe — even though station wagons are very much a European thing! I wish all the success to the MG 5 station wagon, because not only are station wagons one of the most space-efficient and energy-efficient bodies in the automotive world, but its success should create a FOMO effect among European OEMs that could mark the introduction of station wagon versions of the continent’s best selling EVs.

Below the top 20, there is also a lot to mention. The big news is the production ramp-up of the VW ID.5, the sportier twin of the more family-friendly VW ID.4. The sporty crossover scored 2,205 registrations in September, its fourth fifth record score in a row. This signals that increased component availability for the Volkswagen stable is finally allowing the ID.5 to pursue its delivery ramp-up. It could join the top 20 as soon as next month. By the way: When will we see the ID.5 being launched in China?

Speaking of German OEMs, slowly but surely, BMW and Mercedes are pursuing their transition into BEVs. The Bavarian had two models with record scores, with the i4 fastback reaching 2,572 units and the iX beaver SUV moving 2,243 units. That’s still not enough to reach the Audi e-tron (2,768 units), but its getting there, one branch tree at a time.

Mercedes is also ramping up its BEVs, with two record performances. The EQB seven-seater had 1,963 registrations, and the EQE sedan had 1,167 registrations, while the EQA (2,145 registrations, its best result since January) and EQC (2,276 registrations, its best result since December 2020) helped the three-pointed star brand grow above the average.

In other news, a mention is due for the record result of the Volvo C40, which had 1,782 registrations. The funkier version of the more upright XC40 EV highlights Volvo’s newfound faith in EVs, something highlighted also by the strong result of that Volvo in surfer t-shirt and shorts, the Polestar 2 (2,492 registrations). On top of the MG5 record result, SAIC’s MG brand also celebrated the 2,542 registrations of the ZS EV, the crossover’s best result in 15 months, while the midsize SUV Marvel R ramped up its deliveries to a record 924 units. And the star of the team, the MG 4, is still to land….

Finally, a mention goes out to recent landings from two midsize SUVs coming from Japan. The Nissan Ariya had 1,030 registrations in September, while the Mazda CX-60 PHEV had 2,625 deliveries. Does this mean there is still hope for Mazda? Keep watching this space.

Looking at the 2022 ranking, the top positions remained the same, but the Model 3 managed to gain significant ground over the #3 Fiat 500e. Tesla can now prepare the party for its #1 plus #2 win in Europe.

The same cannot be said regarding the last place on the podium, held by the Italian EV, as the #4 Volkswagen ID.4 has been progressively improving its monthly scores and shortening the distance to the little Fiat. We could still have a surprise in this position toward the end of the year.

The #8 Dacia Spring and #10 Kia Niro EV have shortened their distances to the places above them, so expect both to put pressure on the #7 Ford Kuga PHEV and #9 Hyundai Kona EV, and possibly surpass them by October.

The first position change happened in #11, with the VW ID.3 climbing another position. Expect the German EV to join the top 10 soon, maybe even by next month.

Elsewhere, the hot hatch MINI Cooper EV was up two positions, to #15. It is BMW Group’s best seller. This is a small feat for a somewhat niche model that has only a year and a half of life to go (a new MINI Cooper EV is coming in 2024). Another BEV on the rise is the Audi e-tron, which climbed to #17, with the big Audi staying comfortable on top of the full size category.

Finally, we have a new face on the table, with the Hyundai Tucson PHEV showing up in #20. Still, with two of the four PHEV representatives in #19 (Peugeot 3008 PHEV) and #20 (the previously mentioned Hyundai model), and the Peugeot 2008 EV just 111 units behind the Hyundai crossover, we could soon see the plugin hybrid team limited to just two models in the top 20 (the Ford Kuga PHEV and BMW 3 Series PHEV).

In the automaker ranking, BMW (8.9%, down from 9.1%) and Mercedes (8.3%, up from 8.2%) have hung onto the top two positions. But they have seen the competition get closer to their top two spots, as Tesla took full profit from its end-of-quarter peak to jump its share by 1.5%, to 8.2%. Tesla surpassed Volkswagen at the same time, which remained stable at 7.4%.

With just 1.5% share separating the 4 top sellers, anything can happen until year end in this race.

Kia stayed in 5th, with 6.2% share, down 0.1%, followed by Audi (5.6%) and Peugeot (5.4%).

Overall, this is a very balanced EV market, as proven by the fact that leader BMW has less than 9% share.

Arranging things by automotive group, all the top sellers lost share. The leader, Volkswagen Group, is now at 19.6% share, down from 20% in August.

Stellantis is in a comfortable second place (now at 15.6%, significantly down from 16.3% in August). It seems the multinational conglomerate has reached its potential as runner-up to #1 Volkswagen Group, something that incidentally (or not) is also its role in the overall market.

The current bronze medalist, Hyundai–Kia (11.4%, down from 11.6%) has kept #4 BMW Group (10.8%, down from 11.1%) at a safe distance. Mercedes Group (9.2%) is the only top seller that didn’t lose market share. Although, it lost a bit more ground over the #6 Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance (8.8%, up from 8.7% in August). There is a real chance the French–Japanese Alliance could surpass the German OEM, all depending on how fast the Renault Megane EV and Nissan Ariya ramp up deliveries and climb the table.

* More on this in a few days, in the Global EV Sales Report….


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