Tesla Model 3 Jumps To #1 In The Netherlands, Among All Cars — #CleanTechnica EV Sales Report

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After the December delivery peak, the Dutch plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market had another sales surge last month, with 4,721 plug-in registrations, up 252% year over year (YoY). That translates into a PEV share of 12% in March, and pulls the year-to-date count to 10,424 units (+224%), with the 2019 PEV share now at 9%. If we only consider fully electric vehicles (BEVs), the EV share in March was 10% and in the first quarter was 7.4%.

In the chart above, click “YTD” to see 1st quarter sales, and click “March” to go back to March sales.

This good market performance was mainly due to the Tesla Model 3, which had 2,195 deliveries in March, a new record for any Tesla in the Netherlands, also allowing the Tesla sedan to last month’s best seller in the country, all fuel categories included, with an advantage of more than 1,000 units over the #2 Ford Focus (1,187 units).

Two other recent, long-range BEVs reached the PEV podium as well, with the Hyundai Kona EV (376 units) and Kia Niro EV (323 units, new personal best) underlining the changing market dynamics.

Surprisingly, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was also 3rd, with 323 units, being by far the Best Selling PHEV in this market. The Japanese SUV scored its best result since December 2016, when it lost company car fiscal benefits due to changing legislation. So, even without fiscal incentives, buyers (or should I say, fleet managers?) are back to Mitsubishi dealerships.

Off the podium, the Nissan LEAF (288 registrations) keeps pumping out decent performances, even with the looming 62 kWh version just a few months away.

Rank Model March Sales  
1 Tesla Model 3 2,195
2 Hyundai Kona EV 376
3 Kia Niro EV 323
3 Mit. Outlander PHEV 323
5 Nissan Leaf 288

Looking at the 2019 ranking, we have a new leader, with the Tesla Model 3 jumping to #1, leaving the previous leader (Hyundai Kona EV) some 1,500 units behind. On the mainstream market, the Californian is now 5th, only behind the #1 Ford Focus (3,567 units), #2 VW Golf (3,506), #3 VW Polo (3,402), and #4 Kia Picanto (3,109).

Will we see the Model 3 end the year on the mainstream podium?

The following positions remained mostly the same, with the only change being the BMW i3 surpassing its Renault Zoe rival, climbing to #7.

Outside the top 10, the ranking is more dynamic, with the new-generation Volvo V60 PHEV jumping six positions, to #12, with the 94 deliveries of March being the nameplate’s best result since December 2016.

After its December delivery tsunami (2,621 units, the best result ever for a BEV) that that brought it to #2 last year, the Jaguar I-PACE dropped off sharply. But it is back in the ranking, in #19, thanks to 40 deliveries in March.

In the large luxury car class, we have the #15 BMW 530e (33 units, 11% of all 5 Series sales) still ahead of competitors, but the Porsche Panamera PHEV was up one position to #18, thanks to 35 registrations, the nameplate’s best result since last August. The PHEV version of the Panamera actually represented 77% of all Panamera sales. As for the Model S, it is out of the top 20, with just 32 units delivered (−96% YoY).

As for luxury SUVs, the 2019 best seller so far is the Land Rover Range Rover PHEV, with 114 registrations, ahead of the Volvo XC90 PHEV (99 units), but last month, the Audi e-tron registered 40 units and became that month’s best seller, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if a few months from now we see the German SUV not only in the top 20, but maybe at the top of this category. For people asking about the Model X, news is not at all good, with only 22 units delivered in the first quarter, down 94% YoY, but more on this is below.

In the manufacturer ranking, Tesla is the new leader (26%), followed by Hyundai (15%) in 2nd and Volkswagen (10%) in 3rd.

Just off the podium, Nissan (9%), Kia (8%), and Mitsubishi (8%) are all looking for a chance to jump into a medal spot.

Rank Model March YTD YTD PEV Market Share
1 Tesla Model 3 2,195 2,707 26%
2 Hyundai Kona EV 376 1,235 12%
3 VW e-Golf 201 1,031 10%
4 Nissan Leaf 288 986 9%
5 Kia Niro EV 323 795 8%
6 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 323 784 8%
7 BMW i3 258 550 5%
8 Renault Zoe 108 435 4%
9 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 102 363 3%
10 Volvo XC60 PHEV 47 255 2%
11 Opel Ampera-e 39 171 2%
12 Volvo V60 T8 PHEV 94 130 1%
13 LR Range Rover Sport PHEV 30 114 1%
14 Volvo XC90 PHEV 27 99 1%
15 BMW 530e 33 83 1%
16 Smart Forfour ED 26 82 1%
17 LR Range Rover PHEV 17 63 1%
18 Porsche Panamera PHEV 35 62 1%
19 Jaguar i-Pace 40 60 1%
20 Mini Countryman PHEV 12 51 0%
+ Others 147 368 4%
= TOTAL 4,721 10,424 100%

Source: RAI Vereniging and EV Volumes

Tesla Model 3 & the ICE competition

Rank Model 2019


1 Tesla Model 3 2,707
2 Volvo S/V60 PHEV 1,462
3 BMW 3 Series 1,031
4 Mercedes C-Class 942
5 Audi A4 529

One of the questions around the Model 3 in Europe, regarding the impact that it is going to make on this side of the Atlantic, has been whether it will disrupt the plug-in and gas/diesel (ICE) sedan market in the same way that it is doing so in the US. Or will it be more subdued, because it is playing away from home?

The answer is now starting to be written. Comparing the first quarter Model 3 deliveries against the car’s midsize premium competitors, we can see that it has managed to kick some premium ass outrun all of them. Although, the behavior differs from one ICE model to another. The Audi A4 registrations sank 47%, Mercedes and BMW nameplates stagnated (+2% and +5%, respectively), and the Volvo S/V60 twins are up 76%, with its PHEV version still in ramp-up mode (representing just 9% of all sales). Once the production of the Swede PHEV is in cruising mode, expect it to be responsible for at least some 20% of the model’s sales, helping it to run ahead of the Germans. Although, the revised BMW 330e, said to start selling in the summer, could help the BMW sports sedan to overcome the Volvo model in the race for #2.

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Large Luxury Cars, By Fuel Source

Rank Model 2019


1 BMW 5 Series ICE 695
2 Mercedes E-Class ICE 340
3 Volvo S/V90 ICE 328
4 Audi A6 ICE 256
5 BMW 530e PHEV 86

With luxury EVs losing generous fiscal incentives in January, sales were bound to tank this year, to the profit of ICE models and PHEVs.

And so, while the Tesla Model S was in podium positions a year ago, disputing the leadership with the BMW 5 Series, sales (32 deliveries) are only a fraction of what they were then.

Will the Model S recover?

Large Luxury SUVs, By Fuel Source

Rank Model 2019


1 BMW X5 ICE 290
2 Land Rover Range Rover Sport PHEV 114
3 Volvo XC90 ICE 104
4 Volvo XC90 PHEV 99
5 Land Rover Range Rover PHEV 63

The same loss of generous fiscal incentives in January in the large luxury SUV segment led to a similar result in this category.

A year ago, the Tesla Model X was dominating front and center in this category. This year, with only 22 deliveries, it is far behind the frontrunners.

Unlike the respective car category, where ICE is still king, here in Behemoth Land, plug-in hybrids have a relevant role. While the leader, BMW X5, is all ICE (for now), the runner-up Range Rover Sport PHEV represents 88% of the nameplate’s sales, while the Volvo XC90 has its sales evenly distributed between the ICE version and the PHEV. Finally, the Range Rover has 76% of all of its sales also coming from the PHEV version.

But one can always say that these nameplates weren’t affected by the fiscal changes that happened at the end of the year, so it would be natural that they jumped ahead of the Model X.

However, what about the 60 Jaguar I-PACE and 42 Audi e-tron registered so far this year? Both had the same fiscal cuts, and yet they are ahead of the Tesla Model X, despite the first being too expensive for what it is and the second having poor efficiency and still bing in ramp-up mode.

Off-Topic Rant About The Model S & X

I think this is just one symptom of a larger trend regarding the Model S and X, that the Tesla Q1 2019 sales report shed some light on. While the Model 3 part wasn’t surprising, with deliveries up YoY, the fact that the Model S/X were down over 50% is worrying and is also proof that Tesla demand is finite, after all.

There are several reasons to explain this:

— First, there are fiscal issues (both models lost benefits in the US and the NL).

— Second, there is a long rumored Q2/Q3 2019 refresh of both nameplates.

— Third is the fact that Tesla now has competition, something it lacked for several years, and although they are not (yet) at Tesla’s level, spec-wise, they are good/different enough for people to have the luxury of choice, with many preferring one of the just-landed BEVs or waiting for those that are about arrive, like the much-anticipated Porsche Taycan.

— The fourth reason is specific to the Model S and is called cannibalization, by its slightly smaller, younger, and much cheaper Model 3 sibling. The Model 3 has almost the same range and can charge at a higher rate, and it is the ultimate “hot EV” nowadays. There are simply people who would normally stretch for Model S’s who are now buying Model 3’s.

And I have one final note on the future plans of the Model S/X. There have been rumors of pulling the Model S upmarket.

I believe that is a mistake, not only because the Mercedes S-Class type of customer would be less inclined to buy a Tesla, but also because it is a limited market (+/- 80,000 units/year for the S-Class), while the lower class has a lot more more room to grow — the Mercedes E-Class hit 355,000 units in 2018.

With the current Model S sitting somewhere in no man’s land, between the E and F segments, a bit like the Audi A7, it would be wise for Tesla to go down a little and face the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5 Series face to face, like the Model 3 is doing in its own category.

But for that, Tesla would need to launch a competitive standard version of the Model S, with some 300 miles of range and selling for about €70,000–75,000.

Impossible? Would ruin those models’ profitability? I have no idea, but one thing I do know: Tesla Model S and X demand limits are now being discovered, and the automaker has to decide what it wants the vehicles be — either niche players, like Porsche vehicles, with high margins, or targeting BMW and Mercedes.

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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 473 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes