Unstoppable Zoe (European EV Sales Report)

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The European EV market had 29,000 registrations in March, up 30% over the same month last year, making it the third best month ever, only behind the incentive-inflated Decembers of 2015 (34,000) and 2016 (30,000). At this pace, the European EV market is set to reach the 300,000 units milestone by year end. Furthermore the EV market share now coasts at a record 1.5%.

The Renault Zoe remains Master in Command, but the Nissan Leaf is proving to be quite resilient (just as in the US EV market) and Tesla saw its usual last-month-of-the-quarter peak.

Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Renault Zoe — “There’s no replacement for range” is the mantra for EVs, and the Zoe performance proves it. Thanks to the new ZE 40 version, the French hatchback reached 3,762 registrations in March, a new record for the stylish model. That means it won Europe’s “best seller” status in the first 3 months of 2017. Along with best-ever performances across Europe — like in its home market of France (1,980 registrations), Germany (587), and Sweden (93) — it also landed in markets outside its comfort zone, like Finland and Iceland.

#2 Nissan Leaf — Thanks to some deep discounts, the 6-year-old hatch has held back insurgencies from newer EV offerings, with registrations down only 3% YoY to 3,188 in March. With steady sales in its stronghold markets — like Norway, the United Kingdom, and France — and surprising performances elsewhere — like the 152 units moved in the Netherlands, 185 in Sweden, and a record 124 in Belgium — the veteran model is keeping momentum by appealing to a new demographic that is largely untapped by EVs: Bargain Hunters.

#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — After a tight race with the Nissan Leaf, the Japanese SUV ended March in 3rd place, with 3,129 sales across the continent. That is its best performance in over two years, though. Although growing in important markets — like Germany (358 sales, a new record) — Mitsubishi will have a hard time finding a replacement for all the United Kingdom sales it’s been enjoying (note that, from now on, incentives for PHEVs will become much less appealing there). Was March the Outlander swan song? It seems like it.

#4 Tesla Model S — Tesla had its best month ever in Europe last March, with over 4,000 vehicles being delivered. Despite dropping 18% YoY, the Model S managed to remain the best-selling Tesla, with 2,060 registrations, its best performance since the arrival of its Model X sibling. The Model S had good numbers especially in Germany, with 457 registrations, a new record and making it the #1 market in Europe(!), but the model also moved well in Norway (297), Switzerland (236), and the Netherlands (228). Looking ahead, expect deliveries to drop in April and another possible top 5 appearance next June.

#5 Tesla Model X — The (not so) surprising news of the month: Tesla’s SUV is finally finding its place in the market, reaching #5 in March thanks to 2,016 deliveries, a new European record for the fancy SUV. The result was inflated by Norway (446 registrations), but the model had good results across the Old Continent. Deliveries of the Model X in several markets were on par with or better than deliveries of its older brother, the Model S — that was barely the case in Belgium, for example (112 Model X vs 111 Model S). The X also saw a record performance (213 deliveries) in the all-important German market. With PHEV incentives becoming less generous as time passes by, expect many barge-SUV-tax-dodging buyers to drop their BMW X5s and XC90s in favor of Tesla’s SUV, maybe even in the near future.

YTD Ranking — Zoe Steady in #1, Nissan Leaf Climbs to #2

Looking at the YTD ranking, this month there were several significant changes, with the BMW i3 dropping two positions to #4, to the benefit of the Nissan Leaf (now in 2nd place), followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (#3). However, the #1 position remained stable, with the Zoe still on top.

Off the podium, both Teslas had a positive month, with the Model S climbing one position to #5 and the Model X jumping six places to #7. Other climbers were the Audi A3 e-Tron, up two positions to #13 (Audi can thank its domestic market for that) and several models that climbed one position — the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Audi Q7 e-Tron, and Nissan e-NV200. Someone had to fall for them to rise, of course, and that was the VW Golf GTE, which dropped three positions on the back of 245 registrations, its worst result in 29 months. VW accountants are desperately waiting for the restyled e-Golf to arrive (theoretically).

Underlining the positive momentum that pure electric cars are enjoying, BEVs represent once again the majority of sales in Europe, growing 10% in share from the 44% they reached last year to a current 54%. And that’s still without the Opel Ampera-e (Chevy Bolt in European clothing) and the new VW e-Golf, which are certainly two major players for the remainder of the year.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BMW (17%, down 2%) is seated in the top spot, followed by Renault (14%, down 2%) in second place. Meanwhile, February’s 3rd placed Volkswagen (8%, down 4%) was surpassed not by one automaker, not by two, but by three(!), as Nissan, Mercedes, and Tesla (all with 10% share) surpassed the almighty VW. Time to produce those restyled Golf plug-ins at full speed…

Europe March YTD EV Market Share
Renault Zoe 3,762 9,127 14%
Nissan Leaf 3,188 5,911 9%
BMW i3 1,784 5,065 8%
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 3,129 5,375 8%
Tesla Model S 2,060 3,715 6%
Volkswagen Passat GTE 1,127 3,562 5%
Mercedes GLC350e 1,126 2,503 4%
Tesla Model X 2,016 2,902 4%
Volvo XC90 T8 857 2,416 4%
BMW 225xe Act. Tourer 761 2,117 3%
BMW 330e 902 1,886 3%
Mercedes C350e 1,031 2,136 3%
Audi A3 e-Tron 698 1,498 2%
Audi Q7 e-Tron 427 1,027 2%
BMW X5 40e 573 1,394 2%
Hyundai Ioniq Electric 492 1,125 2%
Kia Soul EV 273 1,167 2%
Volvo V60 Plug-In 292 849 1%
Nissan e-NV200 390 980 1%
Volkswagen Golf GTE 245 932 1%
Others 3,819 9,203 16%
TOTAL 28,952 64,890 100%

Also published on our EV sales page, EV Obsession, and the EV Sales blogspot.

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José Pontes

Always interested in the auto industry, particularly in electric cars, Jose has been overviewed the sales evolution of plug-ins on the EV Sales blog, 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 also market analyst on EV-Volumes and works with the European Alternative Fuels Observatory on EV sales matters.

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