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BMW i3 Wins November (Europe Electric Car Sales Report)

The European passenger plug-in vehicle market had its best not-last-month-of-quarter record in November, with over 29,000 vehicles delivered to happy customers. This is the 7th time in the last 8 months that we saw +50% growth rates.

The European passenger plug-in vehicle market had its best not-last-month-of-quarter record in November, with over 29,000 vehicles delivered to happy customers. This is the 7th time in the last 8 months that we saw +50% growth rates.

Looking at the broader picture of the entire European automotive market, sales were up 5.9% in November. SUVs grew the fastest, +32%, highlighting the need for more plug-in SUVs, as that’s what the market currently wants.

If we look only at (plug-in electric vehicle) PEV share, November hit 2.4% share, keeping the year-to-date share at a record 1.9%.

As in the previous month, November saw a close race between the Renault Zoe, BMW i3, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — decided at the last minute by a photo finish. This time, as the title tells you, the BMW i3 won, but by just 45 registrations.

Interestingly, the two best selling ICE models in Europe (VW Golf and Renault Clio) have their plug-in counterparts (e-Golf and Zoe) reaching the top 5. Expect this to become a trend, once more and more mainstream buyers, more risk averse, join the PEV market.

Also, worth repeating, one of the other top 5 (the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV) falls into the rare but highly desired plug-in SUV category.

Let’s look more closely at the monthly model ranking.

#1 BMW i3 — The German hot hatch was actually down 8% in November, to 1,932 registrations, a drop explained by the exceptional month of November ’16, when the deliveries of the 33 kWh version were in full swing. Another reason was a recent delivery hiccup derived from the facelift change of the hot hatch. Still the car found its way into enough customer parking spaces to be November’s best seller. Expect registrations in December to resume the growth path now that the above-mentioned delivery hiccup is resolved.

Looking at individual countries, apart from Switzerland (340 registrations, new record), there were no big surprises, with Norway registering 358 registrations (all fully electrics), and Germany scoring 438 registrations (276 of them being of the fully electric variety). Looking into 2018, expect deliveries to pick up in the coming months. BMW is returning to full production in its Leipzig plant and is likely to deliver as many i3 and i8 cars as the factory can produce.

#2 Renault Zoe — Despite growing 31% YoY, the November performance of the French hatchback confirmed that it has lost its previous “unbeatable” status, scoring 1,887 registrations and losing the November top spot to its BMW i3 rival. Meanwhile, the #3 Outlander PHEV ended only 52 units behind. Is Renault not willing to increase production, or is demand waning? Maybe the upcoming Leaf II is making a dent in its French cousin’s performance … or maybe not. As far as individual country performances, good news came from its home market (776 registrations, up 48%), while the Zoe also collected three-digit performances in Germany (235 registrations), Norway (213), and Spain (127).

#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — A sure value, the Japanese SUV has seen its sales go up 12% YoY, to 1,835 registrations, racing once again for the best seller status last month … but not quite getting it. Mitsubishi is one of the few top OEMs to have its sales limited by demand and not production. As such, Mitsubishi is actively promoting its plug-in model, highlighting its unique mix of space, AWD, and electric range (50 km according to NEDC, which we all know is unrealistically generous). Competitive prices (“deep discounts”) are the icing on the cake. This makes the Outlander PHEV popular in markets like in the UK, Norway, Sweden, and Germany, and a sales phenomenon in Iceland, having inclusively beaten its sales record last month by registering 154 units and making it the best selling passenger car in November in the country!! In the long run, it’s not certain that the Japanese SUV can keep up with the general growing sales trend and stay among Europe’s top sellers. It hasn’t evolved (i.e., range has improved) like it has with competitors, and consumers seem more eager for fully electric cars.

#4 Volkswagen e-Golf — The range increase of the German hatchback coincided with a big spike in demand, with record breaking performances almost every month. In November, the German hatchback took some time to breathe, seeing only 1,593 registrations last month. Still, with a waiting list, Volkswagen has enough room to continue improving results, and we might even see it win the best seller trophy next year. Looking at the e-Golf’s largest markets, Germany was for the first time the best-selling market, with a record 601 registrations; followed by Norway (359 registrations); the Netherlands (324 registrations, a new best); and Austria (71 registrations). With other markets helping the car along, the e-Golf is a more spread out vehicle now and not just a “Norway thing.” With Volkswagen announcing production increases to meet demand, expect 2018 to build on this year’s success. Oh, the wonders of increased range…

#5 Tesla Model S — The poster child for electric cars collected another top 5 presence, recording 1,531 registrations last month, its best off-peak performance in Europe since it landed in 2013. It seems many buyers got tired of waiting for the Model 3 and just went for the larger (and pricier) Model S. The largest markets for the Californian sport sedan were Norway (501 units), the Netherlands (235), and Germany (205). With the Model 3 still several months away from crossing the Atlantic, and without direct competition in the foreseeable future, expect this model to continue to be a regular here.

Europe November YTD YTD Market Share
Renault Zoe 1,887 28,030 10%
BMW i3 1,932 18,490 7%
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 1,835 17,556 6%
Nissan LEAF 715 16,650 6%
Tesla Model S 1,531 12,916 5%
Volkswagen Passat GTE 1,268 12,032 4%
Mercedes GLC350e 1,482 11,823 4%
Volkswagen e-Golf 1,593 11,737 4%
Tesla Model X 1,100 10,517 4%
BMW 225xe 1,072 9,839 4%
BMW 330e 913 9,496 3%
Audi A3 e-Tron 577 7,679 3%
Volkswagen Golf GTE 948 7,558 3%
Volvo XC90 T8 752 7,304 3%
Mercedes C350e 437 6,117 2%
Hyundai Ioniq Electric 792 5,727 2%
BMW X5 xDrive40e 524 5,445 2%
Kia Soul EV 525 4,959 2%
BMW 530e 586 4,739 2%
StreetScooter Work 369 4,002 1%
Others 8,651 59,654 22%
TOTAL 29,489 272,270 100%

YTD Ranking — Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Reaches the Podium

November didn’t bring many changes to the 2017 ranking, with the most important being the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV displacing the sunset-mode Nissan LEAF from the #3 spot.

In a strong sales month, some models hit record performances. The trendy Mercedes GLC350e hit 1,482 registrations, a good sign for the future EQ all-electric SUV. The Tesla Model X had its first four-digit result (1,100 deliveries) in an off-peak month. And the Hyundai Ioniq Electric hit a record 792 deliveries, with the local brand importers profiting from the increased production on the fully electric version.

Outside the top 20, there are some rising stars that should make themselves noticed in 2018, like the Kia Niro PHEV, which registered 553 units last month, and the Mini Countryman PHEV, which had 733 registrations in November, achieving another record month. Coincidentally, both are compact crossovers, which says a lot about what body styles people currently prefer.

Finally, we owe a reference to the Opel Ampera-e (Euro Chevrolet Bolt). November was the second month in a row of increased deliveries (328 deliveries last month), which could mean that GM and PSA are finally willing to deliver it in decent volumes. Will we see it reach 500 units/month in the beginning of the year? I sincerely hope so — the little EV deserves to be successful, and it’s not its fault that GM and PSA management are … well, you know what rhymes with holes.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, BMW (19%, down 1%) is comfortably seated at the top spot. BMW is now being followed most closely by Volkswagen (12%, down 1%), having surpassed Renault (12%, down 1%) for the #2 spot. But with only 800 units separating them, anything can still happen in December.

Just off the podium, Tesla (9%) is running ahead of Mercedes, with 8% share, but with the December last-quarter-of-the-month Tesla peak expected to be a record-breaker, do not expect Mercedes to pose any problems for the Palo Alto automaker.

Also published on EV Obsession’s gigantic Electric Car Sales page.

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Written By

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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