Tesla Model 3 Shines In Off-Season Month In Europe

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The European passenger plug-in vehicle market scored some 35,000 registrations in August (+15%), with fully electric vehicles (BEVs) continuing to grow at a fast pace (69%) while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are still suffering from the WLTP blues, down -29% year over year (YoY). They’ve failed to post one single growth month since last September, when the new WLTP emission rules started.

This meant that all-electrics were responsible for 67% of all plug-in sales last month (66% YTD), with the BEV share growing to 2.2% of the market. The overall plug-in vehicle (PEV) share climbed to 3.3% in August, pulling the 2019 PEV share to 3% (2% for BEVs alone), above the 2.5% result of 2018.

Tesla store

The (not so) big news in August was that the Tesla Model 3 pulled off its best off-peak performance yet (5,286 deliveries), allowing it to win the August best seller title. The result also meant the Model 3 caught up to the Renault Zoe in the number of wins this year (4).

With both models winning all the trophies so far in 2019, we could say that the Tesla Model 3 and the Renault Zoe are the two major players in Europe, with the first dominating the more expensive end of the market and the latter sweeping the lower end of it.

With Tesla finally delivering the SR+ versions of the Model 3 and the Zoe expected to double its output with the model’s upcoming restyling, do not expect the current status quo to change much soon. We need to wait until the VW ID.3 starts to be delivered in large volumes to see these two being challenged.

Chart: Europe Plug-in Vehicle Sales August 2019

#1 Tesla Model 3  The poster child for electro mobility had its best off-peak month so far, with 5,286 deliveries, mostly thanks to the UK, which had its first month of volume deliveries (over 2,000 deliveries). The sports sedan is still benefitting from a backlog of customers in important markets who are just getting their much awaited SR+ units, so expect another (record?) peak in September. By the look of it, we should only know the organic demand of the Model 3 in Europe in Q4 2019, if not 2020. Looking at individual markets, besides the aforementioned UK peak, the midsize model was mainly delivered in the Netherlands (1,180 units!) and Norway (649).

#2 Renault Zoe — The Zoe’s 2,925 deliveries of August allowed it to continue growing (+30%) compared to last year, an amazing feat for a model that is supposed to be in sunset mode while buyers wait for the much improved “new” Zoe. As for individual market performances, the French hatchback continues as popular as ever in its domestic market (979 units) and in Germany (777 units), with Norway (235), among others, helping the Renault nameplate’s success.

#3 BMW i3 — The German hatchback was up 58% in August, to 2,666 units, with the BMW pocket rocket benefitting from its unique formula* to continue expanding its sales. (*It is the only premium city EV in town.) But, looking at individual countries, we can see that the Bimmer is starting to rely too much on its domestic market, Germany (999 units, a new record). Norway (394) and the Netherlands (247) are a sizable distance behind. A warning sign?

#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 2,500 registrations in August (up 137%!), with its primary markets in August being France (635 units) and Germany (560). 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 survive the growing BEV wave (possible answer: until 2021, when the Tesla Model Y and VW ID.4 — aka ID CROZZ — finally land). With no direct BEV competitor in the relatively affordable family-friendly workhorse market landing soon, the Mitsubishi model should still pick up a lot of sales this year without major worries.

#5 Volkswagen e-Golf — The evergreen German model hit 2,160 units last month, allowing it to grow 33%, an impressive result for a model that was supposed to be in sunset mode. I guess the name Golf, and what it implies, is enough for many to choose one over newer and more competitive models. The Volkswagen EV’s main markets were Norway (1,083 deliveries, its best result in 2 years), Germany (380), and the Netherlands (161).

Chart: Europe Plug-in Vehicle Sales, January - August 2019

Chart: Europe EV Sales August 2019

Looking at the 2019 ranking, while the podium positions remain stable, below it, the BMW i3 recovered the 4th spot, surpassing a Nissan Leaf that doesn’t seem to be getting its mojo back, no matter how hard Nissan tries. Last month, the Japanese hatchback was down 30%, making August its 6th consecutive sales drop. The alarms should be sounding loudly at the Nissan Europe HQ.

But it wasn’t the only BMW on the rise, as the 530e was up one position, to #10, while the 225xe Active Tourer also climbed one spot, to #12. Not bad for an MPV.

The Audi e-tron was up another position, to #8, thanks to 1,292 units, making that 7 BEVs in the top 8 positions. I guess it shows what people want, right?

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In the second half of the table, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric climbed to #16 and we have a new face in the top 20, with the Mercedes E300e/de twins showing up in #19, signaling the return of a three-pointed-star model to the top 20, after the 18th position of the Mercedes GLC350e in 2018.

Outside the top 20, we should notice the Tesla Model X climbing to #21, just 336 units below the #20 Range Rover Sport PHEV, thanks to 617 deliveries. Regarding the flagship Tesla, the #18 Model S, it delivered 630 units, its best off-peak month this year.

In the manufacturer ranking, Tesla (21%, up 4 percentage points) is the leader, while last year’s winner, BMW (14%, up 1 percentage point), remains in the runner-up spot, ahead of Renault (10%), which needs more models in its lineup to expand (Twingo EV, Captur PHEV, Megane PHEV, Scenic PHEV…). Hyundai is a bit below the podium with 8% market share.

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

Chart: Top 20 Models Europe Plug-in Vehicle Sales August 2019 Chart: Top 20 Models Europe Plug-in Vehicle Sales January-August 2019

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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