Tesla Model 3 = #1 Electric Car In Europe — #CleanTechnica Electric Car Sales Report

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The European passenger plug-in vehicle market registered almost 33,000 plug-in vehicles (PEVs) in February, growing 36% compared to the same period last year, a good performance considering the stagnating mainstream market (-1% year over year, or YoY), but the changes run deeper than that, because we are witnessing the fall from grace of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which have been experiencing consecutive losses since the new WLTP-rules enforcement (last month they were down 3% YoY). On the other hand, fully electric vehicles (BEVs) have been flourishing. In February, all-electrics jumped 75% YoY, to over 21,000 deliveries, having been responsible for 65% of all plug-in sales last month. With the BEV share growing slightly month over month, to 1.8%, adding PHEVs to the tally, the share jumps to 2.8%, already above the 2.5% result of 2018.

And with the Tesla Model 3 having its first full delivery month in March, expect to hear about a record month in a few weeks…

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The big news in February’s top positions was of course the Tesla Model 3 landing with a bang, and jumping right up to the leadership position, but unlike what has happened (and is happening) in the USA, the blackhole effect of the Tesla Model 3 is not absorbing sales from other BEVs (well, maybe the Model S is the exception). Instead, it appears the Model 3 is pulling customers directly from competing PHEVs and gas/diesel models.

Proof of this is the fact that all the remaining top 5 best sellers in February had 20%+ growth rates, which is good news, as it is better to have a Tesla tide lifting all boats than only its own.

Monthly Model Ranking

#1 Tesla Model 3 — After years of impatient waiting, the poster child for electromobility has finally crossed the Atlantic, and a few lucky European drivers got their hands on the coveted model. While 3,757 deliveries might sound like more than a few, the fact is, this number will seem small a year from now, when tens (hundreds?) of thousands will have been delivered on the Old Continent. Before the announced all-record-breaking month of March, where several markets will be flooded with Model 3’s, February saw the Tesla midsize sedan being delivered mainly in Germany (959 units), Norway (791), Netherlands (472), and France (401).

#2 Renault Zoe — The 3,029 deliveries in February signaled steady growth for the French hatchback, with deliveries up 21% YoY, as we are now witnessing the real, organic, demand for the current generation thanks to better production volumes out of LG Chem’s factory in Wroclaw, Poland. Although, this shouldn’t last long, as the much improved “new” Zoe (50–60 kWh battery, driving aids, lower price) is on the way, and the Peugeot e-208 announcement should also start to dampen sales of the current generation quite soon. As for individual market performances, the Zoe continues as popular as ever in its domestic market of France (1,197 units), and there also were positive numbers in Germany (782 units), Norway (208), and Sweden (236).

#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — Indifferent to the current doom and gloom of plug-in hybrids in general, and being the only PHEV able to follow the pace of the best selling BEVs, the Japanese SUV had 2,754 registrations in February (up 145%), with the Mitsubishi model continuing to be popular in Scandinavia (496 units in Sweden, 550 in Norway), but also in Germany (544 units, a new record), the UK, and France, with the latter two registering 200+ performances. This case study of a PHEV succeeding in a BEV-friendly environment has to do with the vehicle’s unique mix of utility, space, decent electric range (including CHAdeMO fast-charging) and affordability. In the long run, one wonders how long the Outlander PHEV will resist to the BEV counter strike. Although, with no direct BEV competitor in the short term, the Mitsubishi model could still rack up sales this year without major worries.

#4 Nissan Leaf — Europe’s 2018 best seller was 4th in February, with 2,683 units, up 67% YoY. The record-holding model is seeing consistent performance, but the first signs of buyers waiting for the 62 kWh version should start as soon as next month, considering the new version will be available across the continent at the beginning of the summer. The main markets in February were Norway (508 deliveries), France (326), Germany (302), and the Netherlands (311).

#5 BMW i3 — The German Stormtrooper hatchback’s sales were up 36% in February, to 2,204 units, with the BMW pocket rocket still benefitting from the age-old formula “bigger battery = bigger sales.” Looking at individual countries, Germany (694 units) was the main market, with Norway (396), the Netherlands (180), and France (212) also helping the BMW nameplate greatly. Looking into 2019, expect deliveries to remain relatively stable in the coming months. The Tesla Model 3 could steal some growth potential, but it won’t be enough to put the i3’s sales in the red.

Rank Model February 2019 YTD %
1 Renault Zoe 3,029 6,786 10%
2 Nissan Leaf 2,683 6,314 10%
3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2,754 5,377 8%
4 BMW i3 2,204 4,615 7%
5 VW e-Golf 1,703 4,207 6%
6 Hyundai Kona EV 1,849 4,097 6%
7 Tesla Model 3 3,757 3,824 6%
8 Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV 1,324 2,992 5%
9 Mini Countryman PHEV 935 2,301 3%
10 Kia Niro PHEV 1,073 2,118 3%
11 BMW 530e 1,062 2,066 3%
12 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 739 1,829 3%
13 Kia Niro EV 1,023 1,759 3%
14 BMW 225xe Active Tourer 764 1,564 2%
15 Jaguar i-Pace 934 1,496 2%
16 Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV 570 1,461 2%
17 Smart Fortwo ED 475 1,358 2%
18 LR Range Rover Sport PHEV 430 1,141 2%
19 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV 391 932 1%
20 Audi e-Tron 387 818 1%
+ Others 4,585 9,052 14%
= TOTAL 32,671 66,107 100%

January + February

Looking at the 2019 ranking, the main news was the Tesla Model 3 jumping out of nowhere to 7th, as it prepared itself to jump into the leadership position in March. In March, the Model 3 had a four-digit performance in at least 3 separate countries (Norway, Netherlands, and Germany) and should get some 8,000 registrations in total.

But is wasn’t just the Model 3 to join the top 20 in February, as the Jaguar I-PACE finally jumped into the best sellers list as well, in #15, making that 11 BEVs in the top 20. This is actually the first time since 2015 that the blue team has had the majority of seats in the ranking. The times, they are a changin’…

Another relatively new model to climb positions was the Kia Niro EV, up two positions to #13 thanks to 1,023 registrations, a new personal best for the Korean crossover. With enough batteries, the Niro EV could climb to a top 10 spot.

Outside the top 20, we should note the good start of the new-generation Volvo V60 PHEV. With 486 registrations last month, it was the nameplate’s best score in over a year. Will we see the Swedish station wagon in the top 20 soon?

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, the race is tight, with last year’s winner BMW (13%, down 1%) still in the lead, followed by Hyundai, Nissan, and Renault, each with 10% share, while Tesla, Mitsubishi, and Volvo are not far behind, each with 8%.

Next month the standings should be just a little bit different…

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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 472 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes