Renault Zoe Is #1 In Hot European Market (For Now) — February EV Sales Report

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The European passenger plug-in market landed over 69,000 registrations in February (+111% compared to February 2019), with the 2020 plug-in market growing 117%, to some 144,000 units. This is a great performance that should help to weaken the effect of the upcoming coronavirus months, in which sales will most likely fall abruptly throughout the continent.

It will be curious to know, though, when it come to plug-in vehicle share, what will happen. Will plug-in vehicles (PEVs) weather the storm by gaining significant share and go north of 10% market share? Discuss.

In February, despite a falling overall market (-7% year over year/YoY), plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) continue to catch fire (+153% YoY), but all-electrics (+88% YoY) are not far behind. Additionally, full-electrics (BEVs) were responsible for 57% of all plug-in sales last month (55% YTD), while the BEV share climbed to 3.7%. Adding PHEVs to the tally, the share climbs to 6.5%, placing the 2020 PEV share at 6.5% as well (3.6% for BEVs alone), well above the 3.6% result of 2019.

The big news in February continues to be the strong start of the Renault Zoe, which scored 6,439 registrations, more than doubling last year’s result in the same month, while the veteran VW e-Golf scored a record performance (3,770 units) for the second month in a row(!), securing the runner-up spot. The Tesla Model 3, after a weak January, returned to its usual self, reaching the 3rd spot last month, with 3,589 units delivered. It is surely preparing to go after the second spot in March.

Interestingly, this month we have a 100% BEV top 5, which I believe will start to be a common occurrence throughout the year.

Top 5 Models in February

#1 Renault Zoe — The 6,439 deliveries of February not only allowed it to beat the competition by a sizable margin, but also to double registrations compared to last year, possibly providing the French hatchback enough distance to sustain the expected Model 3 surge in March and continue leading the European ranking during the Corona months. As for individual market performances, the French hatchback continues to be as popular as ever in its domestic market (3,076 units) and in Germany (1,352 units), with Italy (385) and Spain (317) helping the Renault model’s success along as well.

#2 Volkswagen e-Golf — The evergreen German model hit a record 3,770 registrations last month, its second record in a row. That’s an amazing result for a model that was supposed to be in sunset mode and has its successor waiting in the wings as production ramps up at the Zwickau factory. It seems Volkswagen is going all into plug-ins (well, with the CO2 rules now in place, it has to), milking everything it can from its current best selling electric model. Regarding February performances, the Volkswagen EV’s main markets were Germany (1,475), the Netherlands (485), Norway (755), and the UK (250).

#3 Tesla Model 3 — Preparing for the March delivery peak, the poster child for electromobility had its expected mid-quarter ramp up month, with 3,589 deliveries, with the sports sedan getting ready to go after the leadership in the coming months. Looking at individual markets, the midsize model was mainly delivered in France (1,025 units), Germany (610), and the UK (450).

#4 Peugeot 208 EV — The French hatchback hit 3,478 units last month, down some 400 units compared to January, which was probably artificially inflated by the new CO2 rules. Considering that its career is barely starting, it is too early to know the actual demand limits of the Peugeot EV, and with the upcoming months also sure to see a coronavirus-related sales drought, we won’t know more about this anytime soon. Last month, its home market (2,495 units) did the heavy lifting, but it wasn’t just France doing all the hard work, as Italy (287) and Spain (227) also helped the Peugeot EV to reach the runner-up spot.

#5 Nissan Leaf — The Japanese model hit 2,570 units last month, down just 5%. It seems the recent discounts are indeed helping to move metal, with the Nissan EV profiting from the current lack of strong competition in the compact car class, at least until a certain VW ID.3 lands. … The Japanese EV’s main markets were Norway (484 deliveries), France (283), Germany (283), and the UK (400).

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Looking at the 2020 ranking, while the podium positions remained stable (for now), the main news was the Tesla Model 3 jumping 8 spots, to 6th. However, it wasn’t the only pure EV rising, as the Audi e-tron was up to #7, while the Hyundai Kona EV and BMW i3 also had reasons to smile, with the Korean crossover climbing to #8 and the German hatchback to #12 (which is still well below its 5th place position of 2019).

In the second half of the table, there were plenty of changes, the most relevant being three new faces, with the Volvo S/V60 PHEV twins jumping to #15, thanks to 1,885 units, the nameplate’s best score since 2015, while the Kia Niro PHEV returned to the ranking in #18 thanks to 1,238 units, a new record for the PHEV crossover. In fact, Kia had a great month, with the Niro EV scoring 1,552 registrations, its best result in a year, and the Soul EV registering 930 units, its best result since 2018.

Finally, we salute the small VW e-Up! in the top 20. Thanks to 1,542 units (a new record), it jumped to #17. If we add in the Czech Citigo EV (841 units) and Spanish e-Mii (436) twins, the triplets had 2,819 registrations, which would put them in #5 in last month’s ranking. Who said city EVs weren’t a thing? …

Outside the top 20, we should notice the good performances of the new Mercedes C300e/de twins, with 1,048 registrations last month. Also, the Opel Ampera-e (Euro-spec Chevrolet Bolt) ended its career on a high note by scoring a record result, 999 registrations. Finally, the French DS 7 Crossback PHEV scored a record 1,084 units, with the PSA SUV looking to reach the top 20 soon.

In the manufacturer ranking, BMW (12%) is the new leader, surpassing Renault (11%, down 2 points) thanks to a strong lineup (it has 4 models in the top 20). Behind them, Peugeot and Volkswagen, both with 8% share, are racing for the bronze medal.

Here are the sales charts with “Others” included:

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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 467 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes