Electric Vehicle Sales Up 70% In Europe

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The European passenger plug-in vehicle market scored some 37,000 registrations in April, growing 30% compared to the same period last year, a good performance considering that the overall market is still in the red (-1% in April).

In April, fully electric vehicles (BEVs) jumped 70% year over year (YoY), to some 24,000 deliveries, and were responsible for 65% of all plug-in sales in the month. The BEV share of the overall auto market was 1.8%. Adding plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) to the tally, the share jumps to 2.8%, and that makes the 2019 plug-in vehicle (PEV) share 3.0% so far (2.0% for BEVs alone), above the 2.5% result of 2018.

Looking at other fuels, diesel sales continue their never-ending slide, dropping 12% YoY. Their share dropped from 36% to the current 33%.

Renault ZOE

The big news in April was the Renault Zoe beating the Tesla Model 3, while the BMW i3 rounded out the spots on the podium.

Interestingly, except for the waiting-for-the-62kWh-version Nissan Leaf and the recently added Tesla Model 3, all the remaining top 5 best sellers had +50% growth rates, which is good news and proof that, unlike the USA, the Model 3 isn’t drying up sales from other EVs.

Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Renault Zoe — The 4,079 deliveries of April signaled a 64% growth rate for the French hatchback, an impressive performance considering the much improved “new” Zoe (50–60 kWh battery, driving aids, lower price) and the upcoming Peugeot 208 EV are just a few months away. As for individual market performances, the Zoe continues as popular as ever in its domestic market (1,472 units, up 53% YoY), and there also were positive numbers in Germany (939 units) and Italy (398), a market where the Renault model benefited from the new local incentives to beat its own sales record, after 6 years on the market there.

#2 Tesla Model 3 — After a delivery peak in March, the poster child for electromobility has dropped to more “normal” performances, with Tesla delivering 3,738 units of its sedan in April. Looking at individual markets, the midsize model was mainly delivered in Norway (720 units), Germany (514), the Netherlands (467), Switzerland (492), and Sweden (446). May seems to be following April performances, but expect another Tesla tide in June.

#3 BMW i3 — The German hot hatch saw its sales rise 53% in April, to 2,841 units, with the BMW pocket rocket benefitting from the age-old formula “bigger battery = bigger sales” and not actually feeling the sting of the Model 3’s arrival. Looking at individual countries, Germany (762 units), Norway (467), and the UK (290) were the main markets. Also, in April, Innogy completed the start of its Warsaw carsharing fleet, helping Poland to register an additional 315 i3’s. Looking into 2019, expect the Star Wars–inspired EV to continue growing its sales — it should continue to be a regular face in this top 5.

#4 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 2,351 registrations in April (up 89%!). It continues to be popular in the UK (500 units), but also in Germany (663 units). In France, numbers got to 281 deliveries. This case study of a PHEV succeeding in a BEV-friendly environment has to do with its 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 the BEV wave, but with no direct BEV competitor in the short term, the Mitsubishi model could still rack up lots of sales this year without major worries.

#5 Nissan Leaf — Europe’s 2018 Best Seller was only 5th in April, with 2,161 units, down 38% YoY. But fear not, as the new 62 kWh version should start deliveries soon, allowing the Japanese hatchback to resume its growth path and keep up with the pace of the Old Continent’s best sellers. In April, the main markets were Norway (386 deliveries), France (347), and the Netherlands (254), with a special reference to the 199 registrations in Italy, thanks to the start of the new incentives program there.


Looking at the 2019 ranking, the top positions remained the same this month. Although, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is getting closer to the #3 Nissan Leaf, with only 310 units separating them. The 62 kWh version will be a much needed boost for the Nissan model if it wants to keep its podium position. And to think the LEAF was the Best Seller in 2018…

While there isn’t much to talk about in the first half of the table, in the second half of the table things are more interesting. The BMW 225xe Active Tourer was up one spot, to #13, while the Audi e-tron continued to climb the ranking, now in #15.

The Smart Fortwo EV jumped two positions to #17, with the tiny EV watching its sales grow 58% YoY, a promising result, especially considering there are talks of the Smart EV receiving a 30 kWh battery later this year.

In #20, we see the new-generation Volvo V60 PHEV joining the ranking, signaling the Swedish nameplate’s return to the top 20 after 2 years of absence.

Outside the top 20, we should notice the good start of the new Mercedes E300e/de twins, with 762 registrations last month, while the Porsche Panamera PHEV scored its best result (719 units) in the last 8 months, boding well for the upcoming Porsche Taycan.

In the manufacturer ranking, Tesla (16%, down 2%) is still sitting on the throne, while 2018 winner BMW (13%, up 1%) is a recovering runner-up.

Nissan and Renault, both with 9% share, are running a close race for the 3rd spot (ironic given larger company politics), while Hyundai is not far behind, with 8%.

Last month’s report: Tesla Model 3’s March Tsunami In Europe — CleanTechnica EV Sales Report.

Editor’s note: I personally prefer to see the sales charts with “Others” included, but I got requests to remove them, so the charts above don’t have them included. The ones with “Others” added are here instead:

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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 478 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes