The European passenger plug-in vehicle market had a record 60,000 registrations in March, growing 38% compared to the same period last year, a good performance considering the stagnating mainstream market (−4% year over year, or YoY). March 2018 had actually been a record month, too, with 43,378 registrations, making the YoY growth that much more impressive.
In March, all-electrics jumped 67% YoY, to a record 40,920 deliveries. They were responsible for 69% of all plug-in vehicle sales last month, with the EV share growing to a record 2.4%. Adding PHEVs to the tally, the share jumps to 3.5%, pulling the 2019 plug-in vehicle (PEV) share to a record 3.1%, already above the 2.5% result of 2018.
The big model news in March was of course the Tesla Model 3 tsunami/avalanche, which had a record 15,771 registrations, but unlike what is happening in the USA, the blackhole effect of the Tesla Model 3 is not absorbing sales from other BEVs to any noticeable degree. Instead, it is stealing from directly competing plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and internal combustion engine (ICE) models (gas/diesel cars).
Proof of this is the fact that, with the exception of the Nissan Leaf, all the remaining top 5 best sellers in March ended the month with positive numbers, which is good news, as it is better to have a Tesla tide lifting all boats than only its own.
Looking at the monthly model ranking:
#1 Tesla Model 3 – After years of impatient waiting, the poster child for electromobility has finally crossed the Atlantic in large volumes, and we experienced a sort of Model 3 fever. The midsize Tesla sedan flooded the streets of Europe. The 15,771 deliveries of March meant that a new monthly record from a single model was set, but I wouldn’t say it will remain historic for long, because I’m guessing once the Standard Range and Standard Range Plus (SR/SR+) versions land, we will see another delivery record. But back to March, where several markets were flooded with Model 3s, the Tesla midsize sedan was the top selling car (of any type) in a few countries. It was delivered by the thousands in Norway (5,315), Germany (2,224 units), the Netherlands (2,195), France (1,153), Switzerland (1,094), and Sweden (1,005).
#2 Renault Zoe – Its 4,361 deliveries in March signaled symbolic growth for the French hatchback, with deliveries up only 1% YoY. It appears the much improved “new” Zoe (50–60 kWh battery, driving aids, lower price…) and the upcoming Peugeot e-208, are starting to dampen sales of the current generation. As for individual market performances, the Zoe continues as popular as ever in its domestic market (1,536 units), and there also were positive numbers in Germany (1,136 units, a new record), the UK (400), and Norway (344).
#3 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – Indifferent to the current doom and gloom of plug-in hybrids, and being the only PHEV able to follow the pace of the best selling BEVs, the Japanese SUV had 4,314 registrations in March (up 63%). That was the SUV’s best performance since December 2017. The Mitsubishi model continued to be popular in Scandinavia (642 units in Sweden, 810 in Norway), but also in Germany (693 units, a new record), and the UK, where the model got close to 1,000 deliveries. This case study of a PHEV succeeding in a BEV-friendly environment has to do with the Outlander PHEV’s unique mix of utility, space, decent electric range, CHAdeMO fast charging, and affordability. In the long run, one wonders how long the Outlander PHEV will resist the BEV counterattack. Although, with no direct BEV competitor in the near 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 March, with 3,917 deliveries. That’s down 28% YoY, but fear not — the new 62 kWh version should start deliveries soon, allowing the Japanese hatchback to resume its solid growth path. In March, the main markets were Norway (618 deliveries), France (455), and the UK, where the Nissan EV surpassed 1,000 units.
#5 BMW i3 – The German hot hatch’s sales were up 58% in March, to a record 3,632 units, with the BMW pocket rocket benefitting from the age-old formula “bigger battery = bigger sales.” It is apparently not feeling the sting of the Model 3’s arrival. Looking at individual countries, Germany, Norway, and the UK were the main markets in March, each with some 700 registrations, while the Netherlands (258 units), France (207), and Poland (219!) also helped the BMW nameplate greatly. Looking through the rest of 2019, apparently this Star Wars–inspired EV still has some growth potential in it, so it should continue to be a regular face in this top 5.
|2019 Rank||Model||March||Jan–Mar 2019||2019 PEV Share|
|1||Tesla Model 3||15,771||19,592||15.6%|
|4||Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV||4,314||9,747||7.7%|
|7||Hyundai Kona EV||1,893||6,014||4.8%|
|8||Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV||1,467||4,469||3.6%|
|9||Mini Countryman PHEV||1,736||3,932||3.1%|
|11||Kia Niro EV||1,636||3,364||2.7%|
|13||Kia Niro PHEV||1,084||3,054||2.4%|
|14||BMW 225xe Active Tourer||1,311||2,885||2.3%|
|15||Hyundai Ioniq Electric||824||2,659||2.1%|
|17||Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV||776||2,245||1.8%|
|18||Land Rover Range Rover Sport PHEV||1,004||2,094||1.7%|
|19||Smart Fortwo EV||698||2,040||1.6%|
|20||Tesla Model S||824||1,605||1.3%|
Plug-in hybrids in italics.
Looking at the 2019 ranking, the main news was the Tesla Model 3 jumping a full six spots into the leadership position. Considering the advantage it already has, Tesla should start preparing the 2019 Best Seller party for the end of the year…
Elsewhere, there wasn’t much to talk about in the first half of the table, except maybe the fact that the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, by far the best-selling plugin hybrid in the ranking, is getting closer to the Nissan Leaf’s bronze medal. The 62 kWh version is needed sooner rather than later if Nissan wants to keep its podium position.
In the second half of the table, things are more interesting — the Kia Niro EV was up two positions, to #11, thanks to a record 1,636 deliveries, while two other recent additions also shined, with the Jaguar I-PACE jumping 3 spots to #12 and the Audi e-tron doing even better and jumping 4 positions to #16, thanks to a personal best of 1,791 deliveries.
Underlining the good moment Hyundai–Kia and Jaguar Land Rover are having in the PEV arena, the first had the Kia Niro PHEV hitting a four-digit result (1,084 units, its best score in 12 months), while the second had the Range Rover Sport PHEV reaching a record score of 1,004 units. Considering the dismal results that Jaguar Land Rover is having in the mainstream market, I guess the path for survival is clear for the British group: Go electric, or go broke.
In #20, we see the Tesla Model S returning to the ranking, a welcome addition. That makes 12 BEVs in the top 20. And, for those wondering, the Tesla Model X is in #22.
Outside the top 20, we should notice a good start for the new-generation Volvo V60 PHEV. It had 887 registrations last month, the nameplate’s best score in over two years. A top 20 spot is getting closer every day for the Swedish station wagon.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, we have a new leader, with Tesla (18%, up 10%) now sitting on the iron throne. 2018 winner BMW (12%, down 1%) is now 2nd, followed by Nissan and Renault, both with 9% share and jostling for the 3rd spot. Though, Hyundai and Mitsubishi are not far behind, with 8% each. The bronze medal, at least, is still very much up in the air.
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