Renault Zoe & Tesla Model 3 Pull France To Record Heights — 2019 EV Sales Report

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The French plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market registered a record 7,250 units in December, +28% year over year (YoY), a new all time record. That was thanks to leader Renault Zoe (2,097 units, a new year best), which seems to be past the worse of the production ramp up, and the Tesla Model 3, which moved 1,250 units, its best result ever in France. Additionally, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales more than doubled YoY, helping to set the record score.

This record result and record plug-in share in December (3.4% PEV share, 2.3% BEV share) pulled the 2019 PEV share to 2.8% (1.9% BEV), a new record. Although, it was not that far from the 2.1% PEV share of 2018. Better luck in 2020?

More telling of the changing times is the diesel fall from grace in the mainstream market, with the 2019 share shrinking to 34% (39% in 2018), a significant departure from the 47% of 2017 and a far cry from the 72% of 2012. Will diesel sales be dead here by 2025?

Looking at December’s best sellers, besides the aforementioned Renault Zoe and Tesla Model 3, the BMW Group had two representatives in the top 5, with both the #3 BMW i3 and #5 Mini Countryman PHEV scoring record results. The 485 units of the German hatchback were particularly relevant, as this record performance happened over 6 years after it started zooming French roads. Has the quirky hatchback acquired cult status?

A model that is starting to become familiar in this top 5 is the Porsche Cayenne PHEV, which ended December in 4th, with 366 units registered, its best result in 17 months. Will we see it again in 2020?

In a market known for its stability, it is no surprise to find that the Renault Zoe won the model trophy in 2019, its 7th in a row, with a record 18,817 units this time, an 11% improvement over the 2018 result. Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 removed the Nissan Leaf from its usual runner-up spot. The Japanese hatchback didn’t help itself in any way, having dropped its sales by 20% compared to last year, and I presume that even if it had a few more months, 3rd place would be out of its hands.

Time for price slashing, Nissan?

The 2018 bronze medal, the BMW i3, was only 5th this time, with 2,954 registrations (+22% YoY), surpassed by the #4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which recovered the Best Selling PHEV (and SUV) titles from the Volvo XC60 PHEV.

Looking at the second half of the table, the Porsche Cayenne PHEV profited from its strong year end to jump 3 spots, into #14, but nevertheless, it wasn’t enough to become the 2019 Best Seller in the Luxury SUV category, as the #11 Range Rover Sport PHEV took the prize for the first time, after a close race with another heavyweight, 2018 winner Volvo XC90 PHEV.

Outside the top 20, a reference is due to the 195 registrations of the new BMW X5 PHEV, its second record performance in a row. Two midsize SUVs were also shining, as both the Audi Q5 PHEV (86 units) and the Jaguar I-PACE (74 units) scored record results. But the most surprising result of the month went to Geely’s LEVC TX5 EREV — thanks to a new ride-hailing company operating in Paris, it registered 96 units in December.

Looking at a few other sub-categories, the BMW 225xe Active Tourer once again won the Best Selling MPV award (a lack of competitors tend to lead to these things…), while the Mercedes E300e/de won its first Best Selling Luxury Car title.

In the brand ranking, Renault (31%) won its 8th consecutive(!) title, followed at a distance by #2 Tesla (12%) and #3 BMW (8%), with the German brand managing to keep #4 Nissan (7%) at bay.

Looking into 2020, the Renault Zoe will probably cross the 20,000 unit marker and the Tesla Model 3 should reach some 8,000 units, so no big surprises, but true disruption will start when Peugeot plays its cards — namely, when it starts to deliver its 208 EV, forcing the Renault Zoe to play game and make an effort to keep its leadership position. Additionally, the 3008 PHEV and 508 PHEV could surprise in the PHEV category.

Midsize Car Best Sellers

Tesla Model 3 apart, this category still has a long road ahead. With a soon-to-be-electrified, the Peugeot 508, coming, that should help to the electrification cause.

The Mercedes C300e/de twins still have a low degree of electrification, with just 3% of sales belonging to their PHEV versions, but expect this percentage to grow throughout the year.

With arch-rival Peugeot electrifying its midsize model, one wonders if Renault has plans to electrify the Talisman too.

Midsize SUV Best Sellers

This category also has a low degree of electrification, with 3 unplugged models, and of the 2 electrified models, only the Volvo XC60 (32% of sales belonged to the PHEV version) had a significant degree of electrification, as the Audi Q5 had only 6% plug-in share.

Expect fast electrification in 2020. With leader DS 7 starting to deliver its PHEV units in volume, the #2 BMW X3 delivering a PHEV version soon, and the Mercedes GLC also rolling out a PHEV, we could see a fully electrified top 5 sometime next year.

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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