The (VW) Empire Strikes Back (Europe Electric Car Sales Report)

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The (VW) Empire Strikes Back

The plug-in market in Europe had a surprisingly strong August month, with over 22,000 registrations, up 68% year over year (YoY). That pushes the plug-in market share up to 1.7%.

This unexpected surge can also be an indication of an exceptional September month. Will this mean the December 2015 record (34,213 registrations) is in danger?

Despite being a usually slow sales month due to the holiday season, the Renault Zoe hasn’t stopped leading the way. For the eighth month in a row, it was #1. But the real news in August was the deliveries surge from Volkswagen, with brilliant performances across the lineup, while also winning the month’s silver and bronze medals.

Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Renault Zoe — Still struggling to satisfy the demand for its long-range supermini, Renault couldn’t lift off the accelerator and enjoy the holiday season. The French hatchback scored 2,152 units, up 147% YoY, with strong performances across the continent. The Zoe landed 710 deliveries in its domestic market, 423 in Germany, and 148 in Denmark. What an increased range does to an electric car’s sales…

#2 Volkswagen e-Golf — The 1,694 deliveries the e-Golf scored in August not only beat its previous personal record, set last June (1,360 units), but it also allowed the e-Golf to triple the result made in the same period last year (549 units), mostly thanks to Norway (996 deliveries, a new record) and Germany (475 units, a new record). Oh, the wonders of increased range…

#3 Volkswagen Passat GTE — Also profiting from Volkswagen’s recent love for plug-ins, the Passat GTE registered 1,352 units, its best result since January. The plug-in hybrid Passat landed great results in Sweden (614 units, a new record), Norway (356), and Germany (198). The German midsizer is once again flying high, driving middle managers across Europe to their next customers/meetings/mistresses.

#4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — A classic in these Euro charts, the Japanese SUV was back in black, growing 18% YoY to 1,204 units. It collected strong results in Norway (358 units) and Sweden (176), but the headlining result was in Iceland, where it set an all-time record for a single model — 152 registrations. No wonder Iceland is at 10% share…

#5 BMW i3 — It looks like the 33 kWh sales boost has ended, with the German hot hatch delivering only 1,149 units, its lowest result in a year. Leading markets, unsurprisingly, were Norway (390 units) and Germany (238). If it’s true, the upcoming restyling could help stop the sales bleeding, but the fact is the EV market is moving fast and only a sharp price cut can make it competitive again.

YTD Ranking — Volkswagen on the Rise

While the podium positions remained stable, below the podium were significant changes, with the VW Passat GTE climbing to #5, its e-Golf stablemate jumping to #11, and to end Volkswagen’s nearly perfect month, the Golf GTE climbing to #14.

In #20 we now have the BMW 530e, which saw 627 units moved in August. It seems this young plug-in hybrid has struck a chord with its target audience, which is eager to cash in on those juicy plug-in incentives. The model also shamed its direct rival, the Mercedes E350e (which only saw 204 registrations in August) and even kept up with the almighty Tesla Model S (766 deliveries).

In the manufacturers ranking, BMW is comfortable in its carbon fiber throne, holding 20% EV market share, followed by Renault (14%) and Volkswagen (12%, up 2%).

Europe August YTD YTD Market Share
Renault Zoe 2,152 21,632 12%
Nissan LEAF 993 13,456 7%
BMW i3 1,149 12,809 7%
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 1,204 11,882 7%
VW Passat GTE 1,352 8,243 5%
Mercedes GLC350e 1,002 8,053 4%
Tesla Model S 766 8,051 4%
BMW 225xe 692 6,661 4%
Tesla Model X 577 6,636 4%
BMW 330e 592 6,556 4%
VW e-Golf 1,694 5,874 3%
Audi A3 e-Tron 904 5,634 3%
Volvo XC90 T8 340 4,802 3%
VW Golf GTE 616 4,584 3%
Mercedes C350e 512 4,432 2%
BMW X5 xDrive40e 279 3,925 2%
Hyundai Ioniq Electric 620 3,801 2%
Kia Soul EV 570 3,325 2%
Nissan e-NV200 301 2,900 2%
BMW 530e 627 2,806 2%
Others 5,363 34,351 19%
TOTAL 22,305 180,413 100%

Cool Kids

This month we have only one new vehicle landing, but an important one:

Kia Niro PHEV — Building on the success of its regular hybrid sibling, which has broken the Toyota monopoly in its category, the plug-in hybrid Niro lands at the heart of the hottest selling segment in Europe: compact crossovers, where currently it has no direct competition to worry about — not that competition would be a problem. The Kia Niro PHEV has quite compelling specs (58 kilometers of electric range on the optimistic NEDC cycle) and pricing (€33,000). The problem for Kia will be to make enough of them to satisfy demand. Target: 1,000/month.

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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.

José Pontes has 477 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes