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Published on June 30th, 2018 | by Jose Pontes

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Leaf & Zoe Ahead Of The Pack In Europe (#CleanTechnica Electric Car Sales Report)

June 30th, 2018 by  


The European passenger plug-in market continues pushing forward, registering some 29,000 registrations in May. That’s up 38% compared to the same period last year and pulls the year-to-date (YTD) count to over 146,000 deliveries (+44% year over year, or YoY), keeping the 2018 market share at 2.1% (2.0% in May). Fully electric cars (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) grew at the same pace (+38%) in May, with plug-in hybrids now having an advantage of 6,000 units. Will we see all-electrics bounce back in the second half of the year?

Looking at Europe’s fuel mix, diesel continues to drop significantly (-16% YoY) in a growing market (+2.4% YoY), while all other fuels (including CNG, LPG…) are on the rise, profiting from the diesel-fleeing stampede. At this pace, the new sales of cars using the black, fuming fuel will be virtually dead by 2025.

May repeated April’s top 5, with BEVs continuing to own the top positions. The new Nissan Leaf leads the way, but this time the Renault Zoe came close, while the BMW i3, VW e-Golf, and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV made up for the rest of the best seller lineup.

After racing with the VW Passat GTE and the BMW 530e, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV managed to score another top 5 presence, while at the same time being the best selling PHEV.

Currently, things are quiet at the head of the pack, with the top 6 positions in May being exactly the same as the current 2018 ranking. It would be nice if someone came and shook things up a little … but who? Tesla Model 3? Only in 2019. Hyundai Kona BEV? Limited availability. Jaguar i-Pace? Will JLR make enough of them? Hmmm…


Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Nissan Leaf — The 2.0 version of the most common plug-in car in the world won another best seller title in Europe, its third in a row, by registering 2,814 units (up 90% YoY). With the order list still not satisfied in a few countries, expect the Leaf to remain in #1 for the coming months. Regarding May performance, the main markets were Norway (644 deliveries), UK (450), France (331), The Netherlands (264), and Portugal (220, a new all-time record for a single model).

#2 Renault Zoe — May’s 2,534 deliveries meant a 22% YoY growth for the French hatchback, giving its Japanese cousin something of a fight for the leadership position as Renault runs to satisfy all the Zoe orders now that LG has enough batteries to provide the French automaker what it needs. As for individual market performances, the domestic market did the usual heavy lifting, by registering 1,085 units, with other positive numbers coming from Germany (507 units), and Norway (167 units).

#3 BMW i3 — The German hot hatch sales have found their cruising speed (+2% YoY) in May, with 1,713 units being delivered. And with the Leipzig factory expected to grow output towards the end of the year, thanks to the upcoming 44kWh version, do not expect the Bavarian carmaker to be worried about its quirky looking EV’s sales performance in the short term. Looking at individual countries, Norway is once again leading sales (407 units), with Germany (320) and France (204) remaining big absorbers of the BMW electric model.

#4 VW e-Golf — The popular German hatchback continues to suffer from a common disease (not enough batteries), but despite that, the fully electric Golf collected another top 5 presence, thanks to 1,547 deliveries, up 87% YoY. Looking at individual countries, besides Norway’s usual large contribution (622 units), Germany (366 units) became another major contributor, and Austria (121 units) and The Netherlands (119) offered significant contributions to the tally. Looking ahead, expect sales to continue strong until the end of the year, but after that, VW will probably place it in Sunset mode, as a certain ID/Neo will already be in the oven.

#5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — Solid as a rock, the Japanese SUV managed to outsell the more resourced (VW Passat GTE) and company car-friendly (BMW 530e) competition, thus securing another Best-Selling PHEV of the Month award and a top 5 PEV presence in May. It pulled in 1,483 registrations, down 13% YoY, but fear not — a slightly revised version will arrive in Q3 2018, so the Mitsubishi plug-in SUV will continue to offer its unique mix of space, AWD, and affordability (€40,000) with the added bonus of a larger electric range (28 mi/45 km real-world range) and more power (+15 hp). That should keep it popular in markets like the UK (500 units in May), Norway (360), and Sweden (239). Going forward, the Japanese SUV is expected to keep wearing its crown as Europe’s Best Selling PHEV in the foreseeable future.


BMW 530e iPerformance Wireless Charging SystemLooking at the 2018 ranking, the top positions remained the same, with headlining news being the BMW 530e climbing to #9, thanks to 1,135 units, its third consecutive 1,000+ performance. Underlining a positive month for BMW plug-in hybrids, the 330e midsize sedan jumped three positions, to #13, with 1,019 deliveries, up 61% YoY. It seems the Tesla Model 3’s long shadow isn’t yet affecting the BMW midsizer, but how about 6 months from now?

Other changes in the top 20 were the #17 Porsche Panamera PHEV climbing two positions, while the Mercedes C350e joined the top 20 … in #20.

Outside the top 20, the Mercedes E350e (705 units, a new record) is climbing, with taxi drivers breaking their diesel addiction and going for the Mercedes PHEV.

All these PHEV models (BMW 530e & 330e, Porsche Panamera PHEV, Mercedes E350e) underline a growing trend, where diesel luxo-barges are being replaced by their PHEV relatives.

A final reference is owed to the revised BMW i8. With 215 deliveries, it had its best result in 26(!) months.

PEV Model May YTD
PEV Market Share
1 Nissan Leaf 2,814 14,600 10%
2 Renault Zoe 2,534 13,565 9%
3 BMW i3 1,713 9,297 6%
4 VW e-Golf 1,547 8,347 6%
5 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 1,483 7,498 5%
6 VW Passat GTE 1,214 6,090 4%
7 Tesla Model S 987 5,603 4%
8 Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV 901 5,223 4%
9 BMW 530e 1,135 4,540 3%
10 VW Golf GTE 1,040 4,522 3%
11 Mercedes GLC350e 923 4,355 3%
12 Kia Niro PHEV 967 4,240 3%
13 BMW 330e 1,019 3,996 3%
14 Smart Fortwo ED 485 3,866 3%
15 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 664 3,833 3%
16 Tesla Model X 777 3,760 3%
17 Porsche Panamera PHEV 638 3,278 2%
18 Kia Soul EV 496 3,198 2%
19 BMW 225xe Active Tourer 170 2,818 2%
20 Mercedes C350e 631 2,749 2%
Others 6,638 30,917 21%
TOTAL 28,776 146,295 100%

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, 2017 winner BMW (18%, up 2%) is in the lead again, thanks to the aforementioned good performances of its PHEVs. Runner-up Volkswagen (14%) lost a bit of ground to the leader, but Nissan (10%) is far behind as it holds onto the Bronze medal. Nissan’s cousin Renault (9%) is close to the podium positions and may try to claw that away from Nissan.


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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.



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