Despite the overall automotive market being in the doghouse, -14% year over year (YoY), Europe’s passenger plugin market is on fire, having score a record 166,000 registrations in November (+198% YoY). That placed last month’s plugin share at 16% share — 8% full electrics (BEV). That helped the numbers rise 123%, to over 1 million units, pulling the market into the … Disruption Zone, as the 2020 plugin vehicle (PEV) share crossed north of the 10% mark (5.4% for BEVs alone). We can now say with some certainty that part of the fall on the overall market has more to do with the disruption provoked by plugins than Covid-related issues. Let the games begin!
… And let’s not forget that December should bring another record month. We should see some 15%-plus 20% 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. After all, 2019 ended with 3.6% (2.2% BEV), which was already well above the 2018 market share (2.5% PEV share). Oh, how times have changed!
So, will we see plugin share hit 20% in 2021?
BEVs are running fast (83,512 units, +182% YoY), and PHEVs are going faster (+217%), with the latter hitting a new record month (82,743 registrations) for the second time in a row, pulling the BEV/PHEV breakdown to parity. Although, YTD, plugin hybrids are still below full electrics (47% vs. 53% market share).
Last month, the Renault Zoe was the best seller. It managed to beat the Volkswagen ID.3, but December should be all about the race between the Tesla Model 3 and Volkswagen’s new EV, as I believe both models are going to have a delivery high tide.
This podium is also a sign that the plugin market is merging with the trends of Europe’s overall automotive market, as November’s top 2 (ID.3 and Zoe) are the same as the two longtime best sellers in Europe (#1 VW Golf and #2 Renault Clio). Let’s look closer at the top 5.
#1 Renault Zoe — November was another good month for the French EV, with 9,953 deliveries of the Renault model. The automaker is going all in and milking its EV to the last drop in order to keep five-digit scores going until the end of the year in order to recover the European Best Seller title. Last month, the main market was Germany (4,287 units), followed by France (2,944), with Italy (555 units) and the UK (450 units) also helping along. In December, expect the Zoe to end in 3rd, behind the high-tide Tesla Model 3 and VW ID.3, but the 20,000 unit advantage that it has collected throughout the year should be enough to keep the YTD leadership position and become the 2020 Best Seller in Europe.
#2 Volkswagen ID.3 — The much anticipated German EV wasn’t able to win the November trophy over the Renault Zoe, delivering “just” 8,496 vehicles, which might look underwhelming, but then again, it could be Volkswagen downplaying its hand in November in order to have a surprise high tide in December, as I suspect will happen. The first MEB-platform based EV had its best scores in Germany (2,439), the Netherlands (1,485), Norway (986), and Sweden (773). Expect VW’s new baby to become a familiar face in the medal positions, racing with the Tesla Model 3 for the December Best Seller title.
#3 Hyundai Kona EV — Hyundai’s star EV seems to have stabilized at 5,000-plus performances, as the 5,375 deliveries in November indicate. With the upcoming Ioniq 5 BEV compact crossover said to be a small revolution in the EV world, one wonders if the Kona EV won’t suffer from the new internal competition, unless Hyundai lowers its price. But enough of futurology and back to last month’s performance — Germany was the best market for the Hyundai nameplate, with a record 2,474 deliveries, followed by the Netherlands (529 units), Norway (355), and France (344).
#4 Tesla Model 3 — Last year’s best selling EV in Europe had 5,014 deliveries, which, while not a record for a second-month-of-quarter performance, is not too shabby either, meaning that the Tesla midsizer seems to have (finally!) found its cruising speed. The sports sedan’s main markets in November were Germany (1,617 deliveries), the UK (900 units), France (501), and Switzerland (356). Expect the Model 3 to have another high tide in December and win next month’s Best Seller title, but it will have to look over its shoulder and check where the VW ID.3 is, as the unassuming hatchback is looking to steal the show from the Californian at the last minute.
#5 Mercedes A250e — Thanks to competitive pricing (for a premium brand), usable electric range (64 km / 40 miles WLTP) and even CCS compatibility, this compact Mercedes has become the star player in the PHEV field, with November registering 4,517 units, with its biggest market being Germany (1,612 units), closely followed by the UK (some 1,200 registrations), and then much further back France (443 units, a new record) as the 3rd largest market. Will this be the 2020 PHEV Best Seller?
Looking at the remaining November best sellers, the BMW 330e was #6, with its second record score in a row, in this case 4,229 deliveries — most of them being the new station wagon body, a real no brainer in wagon-loving Europe that others have already been offering for years (Volvo and Mercedes are just two examples).
In a record month, several models hit personal bests, like the fresh (now in its 8th generation body) VW Golf PHEV, which scored 3,618 registrations, beating the nameplate’s long running record score set in December 2015. So, expect the compact plugin hybrid to be a strong candidate for the 2021 Best Selling PHEV title. We might even see Volkswagen collecting both the BEV and PHEV Best Seller titles next year.
Another known model on the rise is the #12 Smart Fortwo EV, which scored a record 3,371 registrations in November. Despite its underwhelming specs, the tiny EV is growing fast, highlighting the latest trend in Europe: city EVs are rising. Besides the Fortwo EV record score, its slightly longer sibling, the Forfour EV, also hit a best ever performance (984 registrations), as did the VW e-Up (3,318), while the new Renault Twingo EV (1,009) and Fiat 500e (1,285) are also ramping up deliveries. The Italian model, in particular, has potential to be top 20 material.
The Smart record performances highlight Daimler’s rise to stardom, as the German auto group continues to see records galore month after month, with 7 Mercedes plugin models (B-Class, E-Class, CLA, GLA, GLE, EQC, and EQV) hitting record scores.
A reference is also due for the #19 Mazda MX-30. Despite being imagined as a niche model, the truth is that as Mazda’s only available EV, it will have to sell in large numbers in order to lower the automaker’s CO2-related fines. So, the quirky crossover is being registered in surprising volumes, with November representing a new record, 2,640 registrations.
Outside the top 20, a reference goes out to the 2,212 registrations of the Peugeot 2008 EV. With the French carmaker already having the small 208 EV at cruising speed, now it’s time to ramp up the electric crossover’s production. Speaking of compact crossovers, FCA is ramping up production of the Jeep Compass PHEV, having registered 1,466 units last month, while Volvo has finally launched the BEV version of its XC40 best seller, with 1,311 deliveries in its first month. Land Rover has done the same with the PHEV versions of the posh Range Rover Evoque (1,411 units) and family-friendly Discovery Sport (721).
Looking at the 2020 ranking, the podium positions already seem decided, so the big news is the VW ID.3’s jump to 6th. The ID.3 should climb a few more positions in December, probably ending the year in #4, just in time to surpass its e-Golf predecessor.
A secondary effect of the ID.3’s rise is that we now have a fully electric top 9, followed by 7 PHEV models, which makes the table look like there is an “A” League, made only of the best BEVs, and a “B” League, with the best PHEVs.
In the “B” League, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV managed to keep the category leadership position, but it will be hard for the Japanese SUV to keep ahead of its most direct competitors in the last stage of the race, as the #11 Volvo XC40 PHEV (and #13 VW Passat GTE and #12 Mercedes A250e and #14 BMW 330e …) are all running at a faster pace than the veteran Japanese model. At least some of them should surpass the Mitsubishi SUV in December, and compete between themselves for the PHEV title in the final days of 2020. 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!
Among them, the one I think will take the PHEV Best Seller title is the Mercedes A250e. Any other bets?
Looking at the remaining position changes, the VW e-Up was up one spot, to #18, while the Smart Fortwo EV returned to the top 20.
In the brand ranking, Volkswagen (11% share, up 1 percentage point) has gained ground over runner-up Renault (9%), which is now more concerned about keeping #3 Mercedes (9%) away from the 2nd position. Mercedes has been profiting off its strong (and long) lineup to gain ground over the French brand.
Off the podium, Tesla, BMW, and Volvo, each with 7% share, are looking to join the podium in December, but only Tesla has real chances to do so, thanks to its expected end-of-quarter high tide.
BEV D-Segment / Midsize Category
Tesla’s midsize sedan sales are in another galaxy, and although Tesla saw its sales drop a worrying 36% YoY last month, the December high tide should compensate for that.
Tesla’s midsizer won’t have significant competition in the near future, at least until its Model Y sibling lands, as the recently arrived Polestar 2 (1,336 units last month) seems to have already peaked this year, and with expansion plans only set to be enabled in 2021, don’t expect much more from the Sino-Swede.
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 even half of what the Mercedes EQC sells. The EQC, by the way, has once again beaten its personal best, having landed 2,343 registrations last month. It seems the Mercedes midsize SUV’s slooow ramp-up still hasn’t ended, and should continue in the following months.
As for the rest of the podium, the Jaguar I-PACE profited from the new, cheaper EV320 version, jumping in sales to 1,916 units, which was the sports SUV’s best score in 23 months and a 89% jump YoY. It seems the Austrian-built Jaguar still has some tricks (ahem, lowering its outrageously high price to something more palatable …) up its sleeve to fight the newcomers.
BEV E-Segment / Full Size Category
The Audi e-tron’s domination is unquestionable and continues to grow, with the big Audi scoring 3,459 registrations last month. Its sales jumped 162% 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. When will the peak e-tron moment arrive? With Audi already discounting its big EV, I would say that we can expect this moment to come soon.
The #2 Porsche Taycan accelerated its sales once again (2,151 registrations last month, a new record), and the luxury van with windows Mercedes EQV (474 registrations) managed to beat both flagship Teslas, with the Model X getting 293 registrations in November and the Model S some 287 registrations. The higher riding Tesla witnessed a steep fall of 45% YoY, which should worry Tesla, as steep drops have been the norm for the big Teslas throughout the year. And while this is still a rarefied market, all it took was Mercedes converting the passenger version of a van into one with electric drive to beat both the Model S and Model X.
In 2021 there will be several interesting models landing (Audi e-tron GT, Mercedes EQS, BMW iNext…), each of which have the potential to beat the Porsche Taycan saleswise, making the 2021 race all the more interesting to follow. That should also render the big Teslas even more irrelevant. Something needs to be done….