13% Plugin Vehicle Share in Europe — Almost A New Record!

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Despite the overall auto market being in the doghouse, -27% year over year (YoY), Europe’s passenger plugin vehicle market is on fire, having logged 147,000 registrations in October (+195% YoY). That’s the market’s second best score ever, only behind the 160,000 registrations of last September. The relative result was a 13% market share for plugin vehicles, 6.5% for full electrics (BEV).

In the first 10 months of 2020, plugin vehicle sales were up 113% compared to the same period in 2019, reaching 900,000+ units. The plugin vehicle (PEV) share for that period rose to 9.5% (5.1% for BEVs alone). It is all but certain that the disruptive/symbolic 10% milestone will be achieved this year across Europe.

December should bring another record month, as usual. We might even hit +15% market share in the last month of the year.

Looking back, imagine that in January I was feeling adventurous by predicting 6% plugin share at the end of this year … since, after all, 2019 ended with 3.6% (2.2% BEV) and that was notably above the 2.5% PEV (1% BEV) market share of 2018. Oh, how times have changed!

So, if disruption is already starting in 2020, imagine next year! #Disruption ’21!

This time BEVs (73,257 units, +192% YoY), grew at the same pace as plugin hybrids (PHEVs), whose sales continue jumping through the roof (+198%), and they hit a new record month in October (73,349), pulling the BEV/PHEV breakdown to parity. Although, for the year through October, plugin hybrids are still below full electrics (47% vs 53% plugin vehicle share).

Last month, the best seller was the Volkswagen ID.3, which managed to beat out the Renault Zoe and benefited from the Tesla Model 3’s first-month-of-quarter low tide.

The rankings at this point are also a sign that the plugin market is merging with the overall trends of the European auto market. October’s top 2 in the plugin market (ID.3 and Zoe) are in the same order as the two longtime best sellers in Europe (#1 VW Golf and #2 Renault Clio).

Looking closer at September’s top 5 plugin vehicle models …

#1 Volkswagen ID.3 — Veni, vidi, vici. After years of anticipation, the 2021 best selling EV in Europe has finally landed, and in only its second month on the market, the new German hatchback has hit its first five-digit score, with 10,584 registrations, surely the first of several monthly wins for VW’s new baby. The first MEB-platform based EV had its most sales in October in Norway (2,475 units), Germany (2,647), and the Netherlands (2,789), with France (524) a distant 4th. Expect the ID.3 to become a familiar face in the medal positions, running alongside the Tesla Model 3 and Renault Zoe for monthly best seller titles.

#2 Renault Zoe — October brought another good month for the French EV. With 9,890 deliveries of the Renault model, the automaker is going all in and milking its EV to the last drop in order to maintain five-digit scores until the end of the year and recover the European best seller title. Last month, its main market was Germany (5,010 units, a new record, putting it #7 in the overall market!), followed by France (2,507), and the UK (500 units) and Italy (306) also helping along a bit. In the coming months, expect the Zoe to continue in the top positions, along with the Tesla Model 3 and Volkswagen ID.3, all competing for the leadership position.

#3 Hyundai Kona EV — Chronically limited by production constraints, Hyundai has finally opened the floodgates, thanks to Czech plant production ramping up. After scoring consecutive record months, the model seems to be stabilizing at 5,000+ performances, with the October total being 5,441 deliveries. Back to last month’s performance, Germany was the best market for the Hyundai Kona EV, with a record 1,932 deliveries there, followed by France (627 units) and Norway (519) in second and third.

#4 Mercedes A250e — Thanks to competitive pricing (for a premium brand), usable electric range (64 km/40 miles WLTP), and even CCS availability, the compact Mercedes has become the automaker’s star player, and the most recent PHEV best seller. In October, there were 4,272 A250e registrations across Europe, with the biggest market being its home market of Germany (1,547 units), closely followed by the UK (~1,200 units). France (395 units, a new record) is the 3rd largest market but is some distance behind the first two. Will this be the 2020 PHEV Best Seller?

#5 Kia Niro EV — After years of production constraints, Kia has finally found enough batteries to comply with the large demand for the more family-friendly version of the successful (and not so long ago, also battery-constrained) Hyundai Kona EV. It scored 3,938 deliveries in October. Kia’s current star player’s main markets in October were the UK (800 units), the Netherlands (752), and France (678), with Germany (421) not far off. In fact, unlike other automakers, where deliveries focus on a few countries and starve the rest, Kia is allocating deliveries in a more democratic manner, with 8 countries having 3-digit performances in October.

Looking at the remaining October best sellers, the BMW 330e jumped to #7 with a record score — in this case, 3,895 deliveries. Most of these sales are due to the new station wagon body, a real no- brainer in wagon-loving Europe. Others have already been making such offers for years (Volvo and Mercedes are just two examples), but BMW has only now started to deliver its midsize PHEV in a station wagon body.

In a record month, several models hit their personal bests. Among the 5 Volkswagen Group models in this top 20, three of them (the Volkswagen ID.3, Volkswagen Passat GTE, Audi Q5 PHEV) hit record deliveries, while the fresh (now in its 8th generation body) Volkswagen Golf PHEV scored 2,986 units in its landing month, the nameplate’s best score since December 2015.

Another recent addition is the Renault Captur PHEV — which, thanks to a swift ramp up, already registered 2,893 units last month, helping Renault to broaden its lineup, which so far has only lived on the Zoe’s fortunes.

On the BEV side, we also have some models shining, like the Mini Cooper EV, which hit a record 2,477 registrations last month. The Smart Fortwo EV had its best performance ever, with 2,847 registrations, highlighting Daimler’s rise to stardom. The German automotive group had records galore last month, with both Smart EVs scoring record results (the Forfour EV had 891 registrations), 7(!) Mercedes plugin models (B-Class, C-Class, CLA, GLA, GLE, EQC, EQV) hitting record scores, and the Mercedes E300e/de (2,164 registrations) having a year-best performance. Sure, most are PHEVs, but the 1,884 EQCs delivered in October allowed it to be the best selling midsize BEV of the month, ahead of the Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2, BMW i … oh, right … the iX3 still hasn’t landed yet.

Outside this top 20, a reference is due to the 1,881 deliveries of the new Mazda MX-30, with the Japanese carmaker promoting as much as it can its uniquely-designed electric crossover (as in, hard discounting, the model, with €6,000 already being taken off the initial pricing). Naturally, this ie being done in order to comply with this year’s EU CO2 emission rules. On the PSA field, it’s time to ramp up Citroen’s first PHEV, with the C5 Aircross PHEV getting 1,925 registrations. Also, Peugeot is ramping up its 2008 EV, with the crossover reaching 1,943 registrations in October.

Looking at the 2020 ranking, there were several position changes in the top 10, with the most important being the Hyundai Kona EV, which took over the 3rd spot from the sunset-mode Volkswagen e-Golf. Meanwhile, the troubled Ford Kuga PHEV fell from #6 to #10, to the benefit of the Peugeot 208 EV, up one spot to #6, and the Kia Niro EV, which jumped from 10th to 7th. That meant a fully BEV top 8!

And next month it should be a fully BEV top 9, as the rising star Volkswagen ID.3 joined the table in #12 and should jump to #6 or so in November.

In the PHEV league, while the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recovered the category leadership position, this shouldn’t be for long, as the #11 Volvo XC40 PHEV, #13 VW Passat GTE, and #14 Mercedes A250e are running at a faster pace than the veteran Japanese, so at least some of them should surpass the Mitsubishi SUV in the last two stages of the race. Should the Outlander PHEV lose the 2020 title, it will be a historic moment, as it will be the first time since 2012 that the Outlander isn’t the best selling PHEV in Europe!

Looking at other position changes, the BMW 330e is now the top selling BMW, in #16, having surpassed the veteran BMW i3, while the Volvo XC60 PHEV fell from #12 to #15, despite having a record score (2,719 registrations) in October. In a surging market, sometimes doing your best just isn’t enough to stay afloat. …

Besides the aforementioned Volkswagen ID.3, we have another new face in the top 20, with the Audi Q5 PHEV SUV joining the table in #20, making it the 6th Volkswagen Group model in this top 20.

In the brand ranking, Volkswagen (10% share) is maintaining precious ground over #2 Renault (9%), while Tesla (7%, down 2 percentage points) lost the 3rd spot to the strong and long Mercedes lineup (9%, up 1 percentage point).

Off the podium, BMW (7%, down 1 percentage point) and Volvo (7%, down 1 point) are competing for the #5 spot, as it will be unlikely they will be able to keep up with Tesla’s upcoming end-of-quarter high tide.

BEV D-Segment / Midsize Category

Tesla’s midsize sedan sales are in another galaxy, and although it saw its sales drop a worrying 47% YoY last month, the December high tide should compensate that.

In fact, Tesla’s midsizer won’t have significant competition in the near future, as the recently arrived Polestar 2 (1,564 registrations last month) seems to have already peaked this year, with expansion plans only set to be enabled in 2021.

The upcoming Ford Mustang Mach-E’s production levels are still a question mark, and as for the BMW iX3, I believe the Bavarian automaker will be happy if it sells half as many as the Mercedes EQC.

The real competition should only come when the Tesla Model Y lands, which will both drain Model 3 sales and probably outsell it.

As for the rest of the podium, the Mercedes EQC has increased its lead over the Jaguar I-PACE, profiting from the sales decline of the British sports SUV (-17% YoY, to 891 registrations). The slow ramp up of the Mercedes electric SUV is already starting to reach significant volumes (1,884 registrations in October), allowing the electric Mercedes to be October’s best selling midsize BEV.

BEV E-Segment / Full Size Category

The Audi e-tron’s domination is unquestionable and continues to grow, with the big Audi scoring 3,451 registrations last month, doubling the numbers of 12 months ago. Considering the already significant sales volumes of the Belgian-made Audi, one wonders for how long this kind of growth rate can be sustained, and when the peak e-Tron moment will arrive. With Audi already discounting its big EV, expect this moment to come soon.

The #2 Porsche Taycan (1,381 registrations last month) at cruising speed, while both flagship Tesla deliveries were low, with the Model X having 310 registrations in October and the Model S some 238 registrations. Interestingly, though, the higher riding Tesla saw a 6% YoY increase in deliveries, while the lower riding nameplate’s deliveries remained stable.

This is still a rarefied market, as the only other model with significant registrations last month was the luxury van with windows Mercedes EQV (131 units). In the next few months, though, 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 445 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes