Renault Zoe Wins In July, But Tesla Model 3 Remains 2019 Leader — Europe EV Sales Report

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The European passenger plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market had some 36,000 registrations in July, +32% year over year (YoY). That means the PEV market has grown 34% in 2019, a great performance considering this is an off-peak month for Tesla.

In July, while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) continued nosediving (-19% YoY), all-electrics (BEVs) almost doubled (+90%) to some 24,000 units, responsible for 67% of all plug-in sales last month, 66% year to date (YTD). The BEV share was at 1.9% by itself. Adding PHEVs to the tally, the share climbs to 2.8%. The 2019 PEV share is now at 2.9% (2.0% for BEVs alone), above the 2.5% result of 2018.

The big news in July was that the Renault Zoe profited from the expected Tesla off-peak month, winning another monthly trophy, its 4th this year. The French hatchback and Tesla Model 3 have divided all the monthly wins this year (January, April, May, July for Renault, and February, March, June for Tesla).

We could say that the Tesla Model 3 and the Renault Zoe are the first big players in Europe, the former dominating the more expensive end of the market and the latter sweeping up the lower end of it.

With Tesla starting to deliver the Model 3 SR/SR+ versions by now and Renault expected to double the Zoe’s output with the upcoming restyling, do not expect the current status quo to change much, or at least until the VW ID.3 starts to deliver in large volumes, expected by Q2 2020.

Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Renault Zoe — The 3,969 deliveries of July not only allowed it to beat the Model 3 by a sizable margin, but also to double registrations compared to last year (+104% YoY), an amazing performance for a model that is supposed to be in sunset mode while waiting for the much improved “new” Zoe. As for individual market performances, the French hatchback is as popular as ever in its domestic market (1,491 units, doubling last year’s result) and in Germany (910 units), with Italy (220) and the UK (300) also supporting the Renault nameplate’s success.

#2 Tesla Model 3 — After its June delivery peak, the poster child for electromobility had its expected chill-out month, with 3,478 deliveries. The sports sedan is still benefitting from the fact that backlog customers in important markets are still getting their much awaited SR/SR+ units, so expect another backlog-driven peak in September. We should only know the organic demand of the Model 3 in Europe in Q4 2019, if not 2020. But back to July, looking at individual markets, the midsize model was mainly delivered in the Netherlands (590 units), Germany (454), and Sweden (453). A final mention is also due to the UK (400+ units), where the Tesla nameplate is just now starting to be delivered in volume.

#3 Nissan Leaf — With the 62 kWh version starting to be delivered in volume, the Japanese model hit 2,858 units last month, its best result since March, marking the return of the Leaf to the podium for the first time since January. And … that’s it for the good news. Despite the larger battery sugar rush, registrations were still down 19% YoY, making it the 5th consecutive month of drops. Will the Nissan BEV be able to escape this downward spiral? I have some doubts, as the 62 kWh version price premium (+/- €7,000) is too steep to make it relevant in the long term. In the long run, either Nissan cuts prices significantly, or the Leaf starts to become irrelevant, especially when a certain VW ID.3 lands. Regarding July, the Japanese EV’s main markets were Norway (584 deliveries), France (445), and the UK (400), with Ireland peaking last month at 296 units.

#4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — The stainless steel Japanese SUV seems unfazed by the passing of time and the arrival of new models, being the only PHEV able to follow the pace of the best selling BEVs. The Mitsubishi model scored 2,487 registrations in July (up 105%!). It continues to be popular in the UK (450 units), but the #1 market is now Germany, with 795 registrations, and Sweden (327 units) replaced Norway (540) as the third big market.

The success of this PHEV in the current BEV-friendly environment is remarkable, but in the long run, one wonders how long the Outlander PHEV will resist the BEV wave (possible answer: until 2021, when the Tesla Model Y and VW ID Crozz finally land). With no direct BEV competitor in the relativelyaffordable-family-friendly-workhorse class landing soon, the Mitsubishi model should still pick up a lot of sales this year without major worries.

#5 BMW i3 — After a close race with the forever young VW e-Golf, i3 sales were up 36% in July, to 2,354 units, with the BMW pocket rocket benefitting from its unique formula (it is the only premium city EV in town). But, looking at individual countries, we see that the Bimmer is starting to rely too much on its domestic market — Germany (967 units) — with the following markets — Norway (207) and the UK (300) — a sizable distance behind. A warning sign?

Looking at the 2019 ranking, with the podium positions remaining stable, the main news was the Nissan Leaf recovering the 4th spot. Though, the climber of the month was the Audi e-tron, which jumped 3 spots to #9, thanks to 1,756 units registered, its best score since March. That allowed it not only to reach the top 10, but also to become the best selling luxury PEV in Europe, surpassing at the same time the BMW 530e and the Jaguar I-PACE.

And with the #8 Mini Countryman PHEV only 362 units away, it shouldn’t take long for the Big Yacht Audi to climb another step in the top 10 ranking — which, incidentally, now has 8 BEVs and only 2 PHEVs.

In the second half of the table, there weren’t many changes this time, the most relevant being the BMW 225xe Active Tourer climbing to #13, thanks to 1,045 registrations. That was the only four-digit monthly performance below the #9 Audi e-tron in the 2019 ranking, but it nevertheless represented a 17% drop YoY for the BMW nameplate.

Outside the top 20, we should note the consistent good performances of the new Mercedes E300e/de twins, 848 registrations last month, a near-record performance for the plugin E-Class that placed the nameplate in #21, just 100 units from the top 20. So, we could see the big Mercedes showing up in the top 20 in August.

As for the Tesla Model X, the 401 deliveries of July meant that it dropped to #22 and its distance to a Top 20 position increased to 298 units. But maybe we could see Tesla Sports SUV join the ranking in September? 

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In the manufacturer ranking, Tesla (17%) is the leader, while last year winner BMW (13%) remains in the runner-up spot, ahead of Renault (10%), which needs more models in its lineup to expand sales (Twingo EV, Captur PHEV, Megane PHEV, Scenic PHEV). Hyundai and Mitsubishi are below the podium, each with 8%.

If you prefer seeing the sales charts with “Others” included, here are those charts:

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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