Europe: 12% Plugin Vehicle Share in Record Month!

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The European passenger plugin vehicle market is on fire, having landed a record 160,000 registrations in September (+166% year over year/YoY). That meant that last month’s plugin vehicle share was 12% (7.1% fully electric vehicles/BEV), which pulled the 2020 plugin vehicle share to 9% (4.9% for BEVs alone). This is getting mighty close to the disruptive 10% mark. ….

So, expect next year to be #Disruption ’21!

This sales push is benefiting BEVs (91,615 registrations, +120% YoY), but even more so PHEVs, whose sales are jumping through the roof (+268%!), pulling the BEV/PHEV breakdown close to parity between both technologies — plugin hybrids now have 46% of plugin vehicle (PEV) registrations this year.

With fresh units coming from Fremont, the Model 3 had an expected end-of-quarter high tide, winning last month’s Best Seller title, its second in a row. Despite losing the Best Seller title to the Californian, the Renault Zoe ended up having a record month, with over 11,000 deliveries. The bronze medal went to the Volkswagen ID.3, which officially landed with a bang. It scored over 8,000 registrations. That said, many (ahem) were expecting Volkswagen’s hatchback to land with a five-digit performance. … Maybe in October?

#1 Tesla Model 3 — The world-leading sports sedan returned to form in a usual end-of-quarter high, getting 16,125 registrations last month, a new year best. Regarding September, the Model 3’s main markets were the UK (4,800 units, a new record), Germany (2,776 units), Norway (1,116 units, new year best), and France (1,083). While October will see the Model 3 have a slow month, November should bring the sedan back into the top positions again (maybe with the help of the Made-in-China SR+ version?). December could bring home another Best Seller title for the Californian.

#2 Renault Zoe — Super-September created a record 11,026 registrations for the French model, with Renault going all in and milking its EV until the last drop in order to keep five-digit scores coming in until the end of the year. It is certainly racing to recover the European Best Seller title. Last month, its main market was Germany (3,603 registrations, a new record), followed by France (2,878 registrations), the UK (1,800 registrations, a new record), and Italy (676). For the coming months, expect the Zoe to continue in the top positions, competing with the Tesla Model 3 and Volkswagen ID.3 for the leadership spot.

#3 Volkswagen ID.3 — After months (years?) of anticipation, the 2021 Best Selling EV in Europe has finally landed, having delivered its first 8,571 registrations, surely the first of several (hundreds of) thousands of registrations for the new model. The main markets for Volkswagen’s new Golf IX MEB EV in September were Norway (1,989 registrations), Germany (1,771 registrations), and the UK (650), with France (616) and the Netherlands (609) not far off. Expect Volkswagen’s new baby to become a familiar face in the medal positions, competing with the Tesla Model 3 and Renault Zoe for the monthly Best Seller titles.

Hyundai Kona EV Test Drive

#4 Hyundai Kona EV — Chronically limited by production constraints, Hyundai has finally opened the floodgates for its small crossover, thanks to the Czech plant’s production ramping up. The Kona EV landed a record 6,143 registrations in Super-September, giving it another top 5 standing. After the waiting list is finally emptied (in October?), we will start to see the real demand level of the small crossover. (3,000/month? More?) Regarding last month’s performance, the UK was the best market for the Hyundai nameplate, with a record 1,800 deliveries, followed by Germany (1,526 registrations) and France (559 registrations).

#5 Mercedes A250e — Thanks to competitive pricing (for a premium brand), usable electric range (64 km/40 mi WLTP), and even CCS availability, the compact Mercedes has become the automaker’s star player, with registrations in September reaching a record 4,772 units. This is its 3rd record performance in a row, with the biggest market being the UK (1,900 units, a new record), followed by Germany, with 1,404 registrations, and France (382 units, a new record). Is this the future of plugin hybrid models?

Looking at the remaining September best sellers, the Kia Niro EV once again ended the month in #6, and once again with a record score, in this case 4,565 registrations, its third record performance in a row!

In this record month overall, several models hit their personal bests. Besides the aforementioned models, the Volvo XC40 PHEV (4,199 registrations), Mercedes GLC300e/de (3,043), Audi Q5 PHEV (2,972), and BMW X5 PHEV (2,799) all hit record scores. All of these share a common trend: they are premium plugin hybrid SUVs. Let’s hope these tanks are at least plugged in regularly. …

On the BEV side, we also have models shining, like the Opel Corsa-e, which hit a record 2,725 registrations last month. It is already closing in to its French cousin, the Peugeot e-208 (2,963 registrations, its best result since February). Meanwhile, the Polestar 2 hit a personal best 2,461 deliveries, but even veterans like the BMW i3 (2,960 registrations, a new year best) or the Nissan Leaf (3,244 registrations, its best result in 18 months), show that the current EV fever is not only benefiting recent launches, but also older models.

Outside this top 20, a reference is due to several models in ramp-up mode, like the Mini Cooper EV, which hit 2,062 registrations last month; the Mercedes CLA250e sports sedan, which scored a record 1,314 registrations; and the Skoda Superb PHEV, which got a record 1,757 registrations.

Interestingly, the other Skoda plugin, the little Citigo EV, also scored a record result, with 1,757 registrations, beating its German (e-Up — 1,728 registrations) and Spanish (e-Mii — 713 registrations) twins.

Three other models reached relevant scores, with the Smart Fortwo EV reaching a record 2,114 units, while SAIC’s MG ZS EV registered a record 2,181 units and the Kia Niro PHEV registered 1,959 units, a new best for the Korean plugin hybrid — which, despite this, dropped from the YTD top 20. With everyone pushing their limits, sometimes doing your best is simply not enough.

Looking at the 2020 ranking, the top positions remained the same, with the Renault Zoe keeping enough distance from the runner-up Tesla Model 3 to remain a comfortable leader, while the Hyundai Kona EV is getting ready to take the 3rd spot from the sunset-mode Volkswagen e-Golf.

The troubled #6 Ford Kuga PHEV remained the Best Selling PHEV, but lost some ground to the veteran Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, now just 206 units behind, but both have to look behind them too, as both the rising #11 Volvo XC40 PHEV and #15 Mercedes A250e are delivering units in record numbers and could steal the show in the last minutes of 2020. If the Outlander PHEV loses the 2020 title, it will be an historic moment, as it will be the first time since 2012 that the Outlander isn’t the Best Selling PHEV in Europe!

Looking at position changes, the Peugeot e-208 and Nissan Leaf climbed one position each, to #7 and #8, respectively, while in the second half of the table, the BMW i3 was up to #14.

The #10 Kia Niro EV is closing in on the #9 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and should surpass it in October, thus making it 8 BEVs in the first 9 spots.

We have a new face in the top 20, with the BMW X5 PHEV yacht large SUV joining the table in #19, being only the second full-size model on the top 20 (the other is the #5 Audi e-tron).

In the brand ranking, Volkswagen (10%, up 1 point) has won precious ground over runner-up Renault (9%), while Tesla (9%, up 1 point) rose to the 3rd spot, at the expense of BMW (8%, down 1 point), with the Bavarian maker falling from #3 to #5 in just one month as #4 Mercedes (8%, up 1 point) and #5 Volvo (8%) surpassed it in September.

BEV D-Segment / Midsize category

Tesla’s midsize sedan sales are in another galaxy, and although it has seen its sales drop 8% YoY last month, it won’t have significant competition in the near future, as the recently arrived Polestar 2 (2,461 registrations last month) is present in a limited number of markets and will remain a niche player this year, with expansion plans only set to be enabled in 2021. Ford Mustang Mach-E production levels are still a question mark. As for the BMW iX3, I believe the Bavarian automaker will be happy if it sells Mercedes EQC-level of deliveries.

As for the remainder of the podium, the Mercedes EQC has increased its lead over the Jaguar I-PACE, profiting from the sales decline of the British sport SUV (-23% YoY). However, in September, both lost to the new Polestar 2, as the Sino-Swede had its own Super-September, by delivering 2,461 units, far more that the 1,547 of the EQC or the 994 of the I-PACE.

BEV E-Segment / Full-size category

The e-tron domination is unquestionable and continues to grow, with the big Audi scoring 3,532 registrations last month, representing a 129% sales increase YoY. Considering the already significant sales volumes of the Belgian-made Audi, one wonders for how long this kind of growth rate will be sustained, and when the peak e-tron moment will arrive.

With the #2 Porsche Taycan (1,017 units last month) now at cruising speed, both flagship Teslas shined in September and managed to recover some space from the Porsche sports sedan. The Model S had 1,328 registrations, its best result in 15 months, while the Model X did even better, by registering 1,633 units, the best score for the Sports-Minivan-SUV-Crossover since December 2018!

It looks like many buyers who were waiting for a refreshed Model S/X reveal on Battery Day just went to the nearest Tesla store (or website) the next day and bought an inventory Model S/X — which, coincidentally or not, by that time had a higher than average stock level. One would almost say that Tesla sent more inventory units than usual in Q3, because it knew this would happen. …

This is still a rarefied market, but in the next few months there will be several models landing (Audi e-tron GT, Mercedes EQS, BMW iNext), so the 2021 race should be more interesting to follow.

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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 477 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes