While the overall automotive market continued to suffer from the covid-related pandemic (-21% in February 2021 compared to February 2020), plugin sales remained positive, with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) on the rise (up 134%, to 9,097 units, allowing them to have a 52% share among plugins last month, not far from the 56% peak of January. The full-electric vehicle (BEV) recovery compared to the previous month is due to a less horrible month from pure EVs, which were down in February by just 11%, a marked improvement from the steep 41% drop of January. Still, the French market is known to be BEV-friendly, so fully electric models will likely recover as the year advances.
Regarding the overall plugin vehicle share, last month it reached 13% (6.3% BEV), keeping the year-to-date (YTD) share at 12% (5.8% BEV). If we were to add the plugless hybrids to the tally (just as a quick side tour), then the electrified share of the French market would hit 31%(!), as plugless hybrids hit an amazing score of 18% in February. True, most of that is due to mild hybrids, but still, this meant that complete petrol vehicles saw their share being reduced by 5 percentage points in February compared to the same month last year, to 44%, but more shocking is the 9 percentage point reduction of the diesel share in only 12 months, with the black fuel now having only 25% of the (once diesel-addicted) French market!
At this pace, diesel will be mort here by 2024.
Looking at last month’s best sellers, a lot is going on in the top spots. First, the Peugeot 208 EV had its first two-win streak in this market — after winning in January, the Stellantis EV did it again in February. But the biggest surprise comes in 2nd, with the Tesla Model 3 winning silver thanks to 1,166 deliveries, its best off-peak score ever in France, which could mean that the sports sedan is headed for a record performance in March (1,500?) and a possible monthly win in France, which would not only be its first in this market, but also the first time a foreign model would take that honor.
The last place on the podium went to the Peugeot 3008 PHEV, with 1,104 units, thus making it two Peugeots on the podium. That also means that Peugeot secured the BEV and PHEV monthly wins, beating the Renault arch rival in both categories.
Speaking of Renault, its Zoe best seller was relegated from the podium for the first time since 2012(!), ending February in 4th, ahead of the #5 Renault Captur PHEV (which lost the PHEV category to the aforementioned Peugeot 3008 PHEV) and the #6 Renault Twingo EV, which saw its Stellantis rival Fiat 500e ending in 7th. So, Renault now looks to be surrounded by a Stellantis model assault (with a certain Tesla cowboy helping along) and with little help from its group companions (there are no Nissans or Mitsubishis in the top 20). It seems Renault is destined to lose its decade-long grip on the French market, and a new cycle is set to start.
Another example of the broad appeal that the looong Stellantis lineup has is that the conglomerate has 8 models from 5 different brands in this top 20. Impressive, eh?
Elsewhere, a mention is due for the good score of the Mercedes GLC300e/de, with 412 registrations. The Volkswagen ID.3 showed up in a still discreet #14, and the Ford Kuga (euro-spec Escape) PHEV returned to the table in #15 thanks to 302 registrations, its best score since July. So, it seems the battery issues are now a thing of the past and the Ford crossover is back on its feet.
Looking at the 2021 ranking, we have two Peugeots ahead of two Renaults in the top spots, confirming the disruptive times in this market and the end of a cycle.
But the Climber of the Month was the Tesla Model 3, which jumped into #6 and should jump higher next month, possibly to 4th.
In the city car category, the #7 Renault Twingo EV and #8 Fiat 500e are separated by just 153 units, so this category is starting to look like an entertaining race to follow throughout the year.
In the second half of the table, we now have the Volkswagen ID.3 in #17, while the BMW X5 PHEV is now #20, having surpassed its Mercedes GLE350e/de rival. However, the Mercedes GLE350e/de has the rising #21 Ford Kuga PHEV just 3 units behind, so BMW’s yacht will probably disappear from the table next month.
Looking at the manufacturer ranking, new leader Peugeot dropped 2% in share, to 22%, but it is still ahead of runner-up Renault (16%), while Kia (6%, down 1 percentage point) kept its place in 3rd, ahead of Citroen, Volvo, and Tesla, each with 4%.
As for OEMs, Stellantis is now the major force here, with a commanding 35% share, with the Renault-Nissan Alliance far behind, with only 17%, while the best foreign OEM is Hyundai–Kia, with 9% share.
The Stellantis Group is starting to become a force to be reckoned with. Betting on a broad lineup distributed by its 106 brands, it is not dependent on the behavior of a single model, allowing for a massive scale that will help it play relevant roles in several major markets, with the exception being Asia, and most specifically, China, where they lack a competitive local associate.
With the French and Italian markets now in the bag, and Opel regaining some relevance in its native Germany, the only domestic market left for the Stellantis conglomerate to make its mark on is the USA, where Jeep (upcoming Wrangler PHEV, future Wrangler EV) seems to spearhead the Group efforts. But, for now, the American arm of Stellantis seems to be the laggard among the Detroit Big 3.
Well, not long ago, Renault seemed unbeatable in France….