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Hot Hot Hot! — France Electric Car Sales Report

After January’s record performance, the French plug-in electric vehicle market continued on fire in February, seeing 13,317 registrations last month.

After January’s record performance, the French plug-in electric vehicle market continued on fire in February, seeing 13,317 registrations last month. Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) shot up 228% year over year (YoY), to 9,452 units, while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were up by nearly the percentage (208%), taking the fast lane into 2020.

With both powertrains shining, BEVs saw their lead (71% vs. 29% share) reduced by 2 percentage points in February.

Looking at market share, the February result for all plug-in vehicle (PEVs), 8% share, dragged the 2020 PEV share just under the two-digit mark (9.3%), but still, this is well above the 2.8% of 2019. Looking at BEVs alone, they now have an amazing 6.8% share. Sure, it helps that the overall market is down by 13% this year, but this only confirms the rule that, when a given plug-in market hits two-digit EV share, the overall market starts to suffer…. [Editor’s note: I recommend reading “The Osborne Effect on the Auto Industry.”]

Looking at last month’s best sellers, it’s a French Fest, with 6 domestic models in the top 7. Leader Renault Zoe delivered 3,076 units in February, not as impressive as the record 5,331 units of January, but still almost 3 times as many Zoe as in February 2019 … and enough to win it the 13th spot in the overall market, so chapeau to the Renault hatchback.

Elsewhere, the Peugeot 208 EV was once again the runner-up, with another 2,000-something result, which could mean that the Peugeot EV could have already found its cruising speed, happy to secure the silver medal in its domestic market.

To this, Renault says: “Merci!”

The biggest surprise of the month was the 3rd place showing of the Tesla Model 3, with its best score in an off-peak month in France — 1,025 units were registered, which could prelude a record month for the Californian in March. Do I hear 2,000 units?

The remaining top positions go to DS models, with the flagship DS 7 crossover  in #4 and the smaller DS 3 crossover in #5, with the premium French brand possibly finding a raison d’ être in electrification.

Right now, it is already the legacy maker (if one can call it that) with the highest plug-in rate in its sales (in 2020, it is above 20%), so PSA would be smart to electrify it completely as soon as possible. After all, that would go well with its motto: “Spirit of avant-garde.” At least, that’s my 5 cents on the topic….

Below the DS models, we have two other members from the PSA stable, with the Peugeot 3008 PHEV crossover in #6 and the Peugeot 508 PHEV midsizer in #7, making it 5 PSA models in the Top 7.

But in order to keep the bronze medal until the end of the year, the sports sedan needs to keep a close eye on both PSA crossovers, that surely won’t give up the podium seat without a fight. Looking at the 2020 ranking, the first position seems to be already carved in stone, as the Peugeot 208 EV seems unable to remove the Renault Zoe from the leadership position, but below these two, a lot can still happen, with the DS 7 climbing to 4th, thanks to a record 728 units, and the Tesla Model 3 jumping 11(!) positions, to #5, thanks to an impressive 1,025 registrations, so expect the Tesla midsizer to climb onto the podium in March, profiting from its usual last-quarter-of-the-month high tide.

One thing is certain — with the exception of the #1 spot, which continues to be easily in the hands of the Zoe, everything else has changed in the top positions compared to the 2019 standings: the Nissan Leaf was in 3rd, now it is only 8th; the #4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the best selling PHEV and SUV, but now is relegated to a discreet #18, leaving its titles to the Peugeot 3008 PHEV and DS 7 PHEV; while the 2019 #5 BMW i3 is now just #15…. Disruption, anyone?

Elsewhere, the Hyundai Kona EV was up to #9, thanks to a record 414 registrations, while we have 3 new faces in the top 20, all plug-in hybrid SUVs:

  • The new BMW X5 PHEV jumped to #14, thanks to 216 registrations, a new best for the BMW yacht;
  • The new Mercedes-Benz GLC300e joined the top 20, in #19, with this new version of the Mercedes GLC scoring 188 registrations in February, the best performance for the Mercedes midsize SUV since 2017;
  • Finally, the veteran (but still good looking) Volvo XC90 rejoined the table, in #20, with 104 units.

But expect more new models showing up soon in the top 20, as there is plenty of activity below the top 20, like the landing of the Opel Corsa EV, with 165 units; the first full month of the new Volvo XC40 PHEV (120 units) and VW e-Up (108); the Audi e-tron crossing for the first time into three-digit territory (101 units last month); and the fresh-from-the-oven Peugeot 2008 EV crossover ramping up production (85 units in February).

In the brands ranking, leader Renault (30%, down 6 points) is in sharp decline (the upcoming Captur PHEV and Megane PHEV are badly needed), while PSA is eating share like PAC-MAN, with Peugeot (27%) firm in the #2 spot and DS (9%, up 1%) in #3.

Add an extra 2% from Citroen and another 2% from Opel, and PSA now has a commanding 40% share.

Off the podium, we now have Tesla and Kia, both with 4%, but only the Palo Alto automaker is able to lift off in March to try to steal the bronze medal from DS.

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Written By

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.


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