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Renault Zoe Hiccups, But Remains #1 (Europe Electric Car Sales Report)

The European passenger plug-in market had some 17,500 registrations last month, up only 6% over the same month last year. Despite this slowdown, the market is up 24% this year, with the electric vehicle (EV) share now standing at 1.4%.

Renault Zoe Hiccups, But Remains #1

The European passenger plug-in market had some 17,500 registrations last month, up only 6% over the same month last year. Despite this slowdown, the market is up 24% this year, with the electric vehicle (EV) share now standing at 1.4%.

Despite some supply chain issues that will only be completely cleared in June, the Renault Zoe remained Master in Command both in April and for the year to date (YTD). Meanwhile, the BMW i3 and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recovered some ground over the ageing Nissan Leaf.

Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Renault Zoe – Due to some quality glitches, the deliveries of some 2,000 Zoe were delayed, hurting April’s performance of the French hatchback, which last month only landed 1,627 registrations, its worst result of the year. But that was still enough to win Europe’s monthly best seller status for the fourth month in a row. Due to these production hiccups, the model’s performance suffered across Europe, from its home market (939 registrations, down 5%) to Austria (96, down 2%). Nevertheless, it somehow managed to grow in the all-important German market (280 registrations, up 27%).

#2 BMW i3 – The German hot hatch had its worst-selling month in Europe since the massive arrival of the 33 kWh battery, with 1,562 cars being delivered. Despite this, deliveries were up 27% year over year (YoY), with good numbers especially in Norway (426 registrations), all of them being fully electrics(!), but also in its home Germany (357), the United Kingdom (195), and Austria (93). Looking ahead, expect deliveries to slowly drop throughout the summer as people anticipate the revised version, coming later in the year.

#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – After a tight race with the BMW i3, the Japanese SUV ended March in 3rd place (1,507 registrations, down 15% YoY). Despite reaching interesting sales levels in important markets, like Germany (294 units) or Norway (222 units), Mitsubishi will have a hard time finding a replacement for UK sales — incentives for PHEVs have now become much less appealing there.

#4 Nissan Leaf – Thanks to deep discounting, the ageing hatch is resisting a wipeout from the newer offerings, reaching 4th place despite registrations going down 31% YoY to 1,326 units. With steady sales in its stronghold markets — like Norway (287 units), the United Kingdom (350), and France (198) — and a surprising performance in Sweden (189 units, a new record), the veteran model is keeping momentum by appealing to a new demographic still untapped by EVs: Bargain Hunters.

#5 Mercedes GLC350e – The (not so big) surprise of the month came from the Mercedes GLC350e. This trendy Mercedes model is in the intersection of two hot trends on the Old Continent: SUVs and plug-ins, all served in a Euro-friendlier size than the yacht-like models above it (Tesla Model X, Volvo XC90 …). The GLC350e landed #5 in April with 961 registrations. The largest markets for the Mercedes SUV were Belgium (204 units, new record), Norway (179 units), and Germany (126). The three-pointed star has hit a homerun with this model, especially considering that it doesn’t have direct competition among the premium brands. (Well, perhaps not a homerun in Europe — maybe a hat trick.)

YTD Ranking – Zoe Steady in #1, Nissan Leaf climbs to #2.

Looking at the YTD ranking, the top positions remained stable* (see disclaimer), with the highest position change occurring only in the 7th spot, where the Mercedes GLC350e reached its best position to date and is now looking to reach the rear of the Tesla Model S and VW Passat GTE.

Other models on the rise are the BMW 330e, now #8, and its 225xe Active Tourer relative, #10, putting three BMWs in the top 10.

Underlining the positive momentum of pure electric cars, we salute the return to the top 20 of the VW e-Golf, with the German hatchback delivering 669 units in April, its best result in 12 months, thanks to the massive delivery of the larger 36 kWh battery. With the Opel Ampera-e (Chevrolet Bolt in Euro-spec) volume delivery now underway in Norway (more than 150 units delivered there in May) and elsewhere, expect the Opel EV to reach the top 20 during the summer.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BMW (20%, up 3%) is seated on the top spot, followed by Renault (13%, down 1%) in 2nd place, while 3rd place is being toughly fought by Nissan, Mercedes, and Volkswagen — all with 10% share. With the Wolfsburg brand now making the restyled Golf plug-ins at full speed, expect it to beat the competition in the next couple of months and race Renault for the #2 position.

Europe April YTD
Renault Zoe 1,627 10,676
Nissan Leaf 1,326 8,009
BMW i3 1,562 7,031
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 1,507 6,174
Tesla Model S 559 4,276
VW Passat GTE 872 4,252
Mercedes GLC350e 961 3,503
BMW 330e 777 3,442
Tesla Model X 481 3,386
BMW 225xe Act. Tourer 711 3,084
Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV 443 2,931
Mercedes C350e 677 2,821
Audi A3 e-Tron 681 2,287
BMW X5 40e 485 2,051
Hyundai Ioniq Electric 433 1,602
VW e-Golf 669 1,559
Kia Soul EV 343 1,540
VW Golf GTE 613 1,538
Audi Q7 e-Tron 330 1,295
Volvo V60 Plug-In 282 1,213
Others 2,174 8,574
TOTAL 17,513 81,244

*Disclaimer: Due to some data adjustments in the March numbers, the models positioning were subject to changes regarding the March article.

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

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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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