Europe Hits 11% Plug-in Vehicle Market Share in April

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11% Share! 

The European passenger plug-in market scored 31,500 registrations in April, down 16% year over year (YoY), which is nevertheless a great performance considering the effect that the several lockdowns across the continent made and the overall market crashing (-78% YoY). That combo inflated last month’s plug-in share to an amazing 11% share (5.8% fully electric vehicles/BEV), and it pulled the 2020 plug-in vehicle share to a record 7.8% (4.4% for BEVs alone), more than doubling the 3.6% result of 2019.

Will we see Europe’s plug-in market share end 2020 in double digits? Now that would be something to write about. …

Although April’s results should be looked at with a grain of salt, as supply chains were disrupted around the world by the lockdowns, we should nevertheless mention the Tesla Model 3 win, followed by its Batman and Robin usual companion, the Renault Zoe. The Volkswagen Group took over the remaining seats in this top 5, led by the eternal Volkswagen e-Golf, 3rd overall.

#1 Tesla Model 3 — Profiting from a higher than usual beginning of the quarter inventory (one could almost say that it was created on purpose…), the electromobility poster child won another best seller award, with 2,461 deliveries in April. With that, the sports sedan won its second monthly title in a row. The rabbit out of Tesla’s hat last month was once again the UK, with the Californian registering 658 units and being the best seller in the overall market, but that wasn’t the only strong performance, with 519 deliveries being recorded in Germany and 227 in Austria.

#2 Renault Zoe — The 2,070 deliveries in April were half of what it had in the same month of 2019, but with its domestic market in the doldrums (only 322 Zoe registrations last month), it could hardly have been better. Germany (627 units) and Italy (366 units) actually pulled ahead of France. Once the market returns to normal (June?), expect the French hatchback to return to its growth path and its usual 4,000-something cruising speed.

#3 Volkswagen e-Golf — The evergreen e-Golf has returned to the podium, scoring 1,638 registrations last month. Apparently, consumer demand for the veteran model continues to be immune to the long shadow of the ID.3, with Volkswagen milking everything it can from the model — at least until its successor effectively lands. (August?) Regarding April, the e-Golf’s main markets were Germany (738 units), Norway (458), and the Netherlands (200).

#4 Audi e-tron — The big Audi continues to impress, April getting 1,368 registrations and the e-tron landing its highest presence this year (4th). While most of them (832 units) went to Norway, the fact is that the e-tron has great prospects for 2020, thanks to the success of the new (and cheaper) 71 kWh battery version and the launch of the interesting Sportback version, which adds a bit of flair to the exterior design of the regular e-tron. But it wasn’t just Norway pulling the e-tron’s very heavy weight forward, as the Audi EV was also popular in Germany (246 units) and Sweden (146).

#5 Volkswagen Passat GTE — Volkswagen’s Comeback Kid, after a 20 month absence from this top 5, has returned to the best seller list, even winning the Best Selling PHEV monthly award, for the first time since 2016! Now the question is, was this a one-time thing, driven by supply chain issues from the competition, or is the Volkswagen plug-in hybrid back for good? Well, any competition for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV would be welcome. Looking at last month’s most popular markets for the Passat GTE, Sweden had 410 registrations, Germany had 329, and Norway had 135.

Looking at the 2020 ranking, the top 3 consolidated their positions, but below the podium, we could see some changes soon, as the rising #5 Audi e-tron shortened the distance to the #4 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, now separated by only 585 units. We could see the big Audi beat the Japanese SUV before the end of the second quarter, which in itself would be a major event, as the Mitsubishi SUV has become Europe’s staple plug-in SUV of choice ever since it landed, some 6 1/2 years ago!

This highlights April’s strong month from the Volkswagen Group (VAG). Of the 6 table changes last month, 4 of the models benefiting were from VAG, with the aforementioned Audi e-tron jumping from #7 to #5, the VW Passat GTE climbing to #10, the small VW e-Up … up one spot to #15, and the Skoda Superb PHEV joining the ranking, in #20. VAG is rising. …

But it wasn’t all VAG. In the second half of the ranking, we should also mention the #12 Volvo S/V60 PHEV twins switching positions with their higher-grounded sibling, the XC60 PHEV, thus becoming the brand’s new best sellers. Additionally, the Kia Niro PHEV was up to #18.

Comparing the current top 20 positioning with what was happening a year ago, there are some striking differences, the most important being the #7 Peugeot 208 EV. Last year it hadn’t yet landed. It’s now Rookie of the Year. The #9 BMW 330e is also an addition to the top 20, thanks to the landing of the 2nd generation of the sports sedan.

On the other hand, BMW’s only BEV, the i3, is now #11, whereas a year ago it was 5th … and, coincidence or not, the Mini Countryman PHEV has also dropped significantly, from #9 in April of last year to #19 currently. It looks like the Mini Cooper EV is eating sales not only from its fossil fuel siblings, but also from its plug-in stablemates!

Speaking of the Mini Cooper EV, outside the top 20, the British hot hatch continues making its way to a top 20 position. It registered 570 units in April. On the PHEV side, the current sensation is the Ford Kuga PHEV (euro-spec Ford Escape), which scored 746 registrations last month. So, we should see a Ford model in the top 20 for the first time since … well, ever!

In the brand ranking, we have the most balanced market in the history of this ranking, with Tesla (10%, down 1%) hanging onto the throne, while BMW, Volkswagen, and Renault each have 9% market share. So, we currently have four manufacturers racing closely for #1. Now that’s what I call an entertaining race!

BEV D-Segment / Midsize Category

Tesla’s midsizer sales are in another galaxy, and won’t have significant competition for at least another year, as the Polestar 2 will remain a niche player and once the BMW iX3 lands, the German automaker would  be happy if it got a third of the sales of the current Model 3.

The real competition will only be when the Tesla Model Y lands. Not only it will drain the Model 3’s sales, but it will also outsell it, so … enjoy the throne while you can, Model 3.

As for the remaining positions on the podium, the Jaguar I-PACE is still #2, but has seen its sales drop 36% YoY. Nonetheless, that was still enough to beat the #3 Mercedes EQC in April (492 units vs 411), so Mercedes needs to ramp up production even further if it wants to beat the Jaguar and reach silver.

BEV E-Segment / Full Size Category

The e-tron’s recent domination of the segment is proof that Teslas aren’t unbeatable. You just need competitive products to get there.

Granted, the e-tron is just half competitive, as it lacks decent range, but if even half good is enough to beat both large Teslas by a mile, imagine what an efficient e-tron could have done. …

Your turn, Tesla. And while cutting prices will surely help, what we all want to see is a decent revamp of both Model S & X, keeping the 100 kWh battery with a lower price and adding a new 120 kWh version. Call it Plaid, Battlestar Galactica (my favorite), or whatever you wish to call it … but make it.

If nothing is done, even the niche Porsche Taycan will be able to beat the big Teslas, as is happening right now, with the German sports sedan already beating the Model X in the 2020 count and beating the Model S (381 units vs 298) in April.

And while we shouldn’t read too much into the current numbers, the truth is that the Model S’s sales in 2020 are down 16%, while for the same period, the e-tron’s sales jumped 168%, which says a lot. …

The sales charts with “Others” (all other models combined) are here:

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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 443 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes