Published on June 29th, 2016 | by Jose Pontes


Europe Electric Car Sales (May 2016) — Top 3 In Tight Race

June 29th, 2016 by  

This article is being simultaneously published on CleanTechnica, EV Obsession, and EV Sales. It is also being added to our Electric Car Sales page.

The European EV market had more than 14,000 registrations in May, representing a 7% increase over May 2015, which was a slight decrease in growth, largely due to the upcoming financial subsidies in Germany. Nevertheless, the market is set to surpass the 200,000 units by year end, possibly even reaching 240,000 units.

Looking at the Monthly Ranking:


#1 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – The Japanese SUV won once again, landing best-seller status in May, with 1,707 units of the Outlander PHEV sold, but year-over-year (YoY) sales were actually down by a third. With the runner-up ending just 50 units behind, the leadership is well open to a change of hands in the coming months. Although growing elsewhere, like Norway and Sweden, Mitsubishi still hasn’t found a way to replace the average 300/400 units per month it had last year in the Dutch market — it registered just 16 units there last month.

renault zoe charger

#2 Renault Zoe – Continuing with its best sales streak since it launched back in 2012, last month saw its sales grow 35% YoY to 1,657 units, its best May ever. The little French hatchback is finally fulfilling expectations, with Renault actively selling the car (at last!). It is only a question of time until the Zoe reaches #1, in my opinion, especially considering that its second-largest market, Germany, where it was will have a welcome incentives-derived boost in the near future.


#3 Nissan Leaf – With deliveries back at cruising speed, sales of the Japanese hatch were up 38% in May, to 1,362 units, not that far from the top two models. The Japanese hatch continues to sell in large quantities, especially in Norway and France, but the question is for how long, as longer-range BEVs (new BMW i3, 2017 Opel Ampera-e…) might steal away buyers from the most common EV in the world.


#4 VW Passat GTE – Thanks to the Scandinavian markets (685 units sold there), Volkswagen’s midsize offering reached the 4th Position in May, with 1,035 units, the best score this year and its best place in the monthly ranking so far. With the right mix of space, practicality, low-carbon emissions, and power, the Passat GTE is destined for success as a company car for middle managers across Europe.


#5 Mercedes C350e – The surprise of the month, this Mercedes midsize plug-in offering managed to climb into the top 5, with 780 units delivered, a year best. With stringent emission legislation spreading across Europe, many fleet buyers are trading in diesel-burners for their plug-in hybrid alternatives. In this case, with only 30 kms of electric range, the C350e has “compliance car” written all over it, but people are buying it.

YTD Ranking

Looking at the year-to-date (YTD) ranking, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is in the highest place of the ranking, but barely, with the Renault Zoe fewer than 20 units behind and the Nissan Leaf, in 3rd, only 128 units behind. It looks to be an entertaining race throughout the rest of the year. Although, if I had to bet, I would go with the Zoe winning the trophy….

While the sprint for the leadership is very much open to discussion, the apparent race for #4 will no longer exist in June, with Tesla presumably delivering a tsunami of Model S. Further growing the spread between the Model S and others in the vicinity, the VW Golf GTE is being affected (sales down 50% YoY in May) by its Passat GTE sibling success, and the German sporty hatch will have a hard time resisting the expected sales surge that the longer-range BMW i3 should have during the summer.

Talking about Volkswagen, this month was a mixed bag for the Wolfsburg automaker: In the PHEV front, the Passat GTE had a year-best performance and jumped two positions to #8, but on the other hand, the Golf GTE saw its sales dive by half. On the BEV front, the e-Golf had its worst performance (479 units) since 2014, dropping two positions to #10, with the e-Up! pulling its best performance (281 units) in a year, thanks to the recent restyle.

Looking at the brands ranking, the trophy bearer, Volkswagen (16%), has gained a little more advantage over Renault (14%, down 1% share), while in 3rd we have Nissan, with 13%, trying to keep #4 Mitsubishi (12%) and #5 BMW (12%) off the podium.

Pl Europe May 2016 % 15Pl
1 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 1707 9472 12% 1
2 Renault Zoe 1657 9454 11% 2
3 Nissan Leaf 1362 9344 9% 5
4 Tesla Model S 570 5360 4% 4
5 Volkswagen Golf GTE 768 4959 5% 3
6 BMW i3 629 4292 4% 6
7 Volvo XC90 T8 774 4213 5% 18
8 Volkswagen Passat GTE 1035 3515 7% 12
9 Mercedes C350e 780 3491 5% 11
10 Volkswagen e-Golf 479 3386 3% 4
11 Audi A3 e-Tron 446 2905 3% 7
12 BMW X5 xDrive40e 419 2142 3% 22
13 Renault Kangoo ZE 217 1537 1% 13
14 Kia Soul EV 309 1503 2% 10
15 BMW 330e 451 1421 3% 37
16 Volvo V60 T8 288 1377 2% 9
17 Mercedes B250e 325 1281 2% 17
18 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid 267 1204 2% 14
19 Nissan e-NV200 187 1147 1% 15
20 Volkswagen e-Up! 281 1146 2% 16
Others 1646 7524 11%
TOTAL 14597 80673 100%

Top 3 pictures by Zach Shahan | CleanTechnica | EV Obsession; other pictures by automakers

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About the Author

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewing the sales evolution of plug-ins through the EV Sales blog since 2012, allowing him to gain an expert view on where EVs are right now and where they are headed in the future. The EV Sales blog has become a go-to source for people interested in electric car sales around the world. Extending that work and expertise, Jose is now a partner in EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.

  • Eric Wadge

    It is nice to see that there is an 7% increase in EV registrations in Europe. I still think that part of the problem with EV uptake is the poor choice of EVs on the market.
    If you are looking for a compact hatchback or a small crossover purely electric vehicle, your choice is still pretty limited. The Mitsubishi Outlander is a big SUV, which for city driving makes it a poor choice and is pretty big. The Renault Zoe, is a cute car but it definitely feels feminine in design. Also, like the Leaf, the range is not great. Sure it is suitable for most people, for most of the time, but who wants to spend 50 minutes charging a vehicle for another 80 miles of range on long trips. I also like the leaf but there is no doubt that the looks are polarising.
    The i3 again has a decent range but not great and is very expensive. The Tesla is great but is pretty expensive for large numbers to be sold.
    What the market needs is for a variety of manufacturers to make Model 3 equivalents at model 3 prices.
    Also, dealers will need to get behind EVs and actually want to start pushing them. I stopped by at a VW dealership today to ask about the possibility of purchasing an eGolf. I was told that they would not import any because they were told that they would have to put in an order for 100 eGolfs and 100 eUps before VW would send them any (and there is no way they would sell that many in my part of the world). The VW employee also told me that for the same price I could get a fully loaded ICE Golf (as though that would make it a no brainer that I should get a Diesel Golf – I told him that I am not interested in one).

  • Harry Johnson

    “With stringent emission legislation spreading across Europe, many fleet
    buyers are trading in diesel-burners for their plug-in hybrid alternatives.”
    This would be an excellent topic to cover. I’ve often wondered why progressive cities with pollution problems haven’t required fleet vehicle purchases to have much lower emissions. Rental car fleets are a good example and people would get to experience driving a cleaner vehicle. Volume purchasing ultimately lowers the cost for everyone and would encourage manufacturers to do better.

    • Jose Pontes

      Any EV on the road is good, even if it wasn’t bought by the driver, once the driver discovers that Plug-ins cars are a better technology, it will become inclined to buy an EV for himself.

  • JamesWimberley

    With such low numbers, the monthly sales for a single model of car are very noisy. You would get more information from quarterly totals, or rolling 3-month averages.

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