Tesla Model 3 = Best Selling Foreigner In France In Pandemic-Affected Market

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With the overall French market crumbling (-72% year over year!) due to the coronavirus lockdown, and the country returning to registrations levels (62,668 units) not seen in the past 50 years, one would think that plug-ins would suffer too, right?

The answer to that is “yes” and “no.”

Yes, the French plug-in passenger car market grew just 19%, while in previous months it was experiencing 3-digit growth rates. However, when the overall market falls off a cliff, like it did last month, having any kind of growth rate is positive, let alone an immense 19% growth.

Funny enough, both powertrains had the same behavior, with fully electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) each growing 19%.

The positive plug-in performance added to the steep drop of the overall market meant that last month’s plug-in vehicle (PEV) market share rose to 12% (8.8% for BEVs alone), pulling the 2020 PEV share to 9.7%, well above of the 2.8% of 2019.

Looking at last month’s best sellers, the French Fest continues, with 4 domestic models in the top 5. The leader Renault Zoe delivered just 1,744 units in March, possibly definitely harmed by the lockdown measures. The Tesla Model 3 was last month’s runner-up, and the only foreigner in this top 5. With 1,385 deliveries, that was actually the best score ever by a foreign plug-in vehicle in French lands.

The remaining top positions went to PSA models, but the most surprising result shows up just behind the top 5, with the Mini Cooper Electric scoring 179 units in its first full sales month! Pent up demand? Or is the British hot hatch going to become a force to be reckoned with?

Looking at the 2020 ranking, the big news is the Tesla Model 3 jumping to 3rd, confirming its Best Selling Foreigner status, while the DS 7 PHEV surpassed its Peugeot 3008 PHEV cousin, now the new Best Selling PHEV in France.

The second half of the table has also seen some action, with the BMW i3 rising to #14, which is still far from the 5th spot that the German EV had in 2019. The same can be said of the #16 Mini Countryman PHEV and #17 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Despite climbing one position last month, both are still far from last year’s performance, when they ended in #6 and #4, respectively, and were last year’s best selling plug-in hybrids.

Expect more changes to come soon, as there is plenty of activity below the top 20, like the thundering start of the Mini Cooper EV, with 179 units last month, now only 39 units behind the #20 Range Rover Sport PHEV. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen e-Up (116 units in March, a new record) is also getting ready to join the table, as it is just 34 units behind the top 20.

Another model that should join the table soon is the Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV, with the PSA crossover registering its first 49 units in March. The big Teslas also had a positive month in March, with the Model S delivering 111 units and the Model X registering 84 last month, their best month since 2018.

In the brand ranking, leader Renault (29%, down 1 percentage point) is declining (the upcoming Captur PHEV and Megane PHEV are badly needed) while Peugeot (24%) is firm in the 2nd spot and DS (9%) hangs onto the 3rd spot, still resisting Tesla (9%, up 4 points).

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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