France Hits 16.1% Plugin Share, Tesla Model 3 At Record 4,524 Sales

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France, Europe’s second largest auto market, saw plugin electric vehicle market share hit 16.1% market share in March, and a 14% cumulative share for the first quarter. With a surge of deliveries shipped from its Shanghai Gigafactory, Tesla registered 4,524 Model 3 sales in March, by far its highest ever monthly total in France. Overall auto sales recovered year-on-year (182,624 registrations), but were still down from pre-pandemic March averages (~230,000). Diesels continued their steep decline, hitting a new low of 23% share in March.

March’s combined 16.1% plugin result consisted of 8.5% full battery electrics (BEVs), just ahead of the 7.6% contribution of plugin hybrids (PHEVs).

The 2021 year-to-date plugin share now stands at 13.95%, up a relative 44% from 9.69% by this point in 2020. Combustion-only powertrains were at their lowest ever score since records began, at just 65.8% share, thanks to both the strong plugin result, and a decent showing from traditional hybrids.

Diesel share was particularly weak, continuing a precipitous decline over recent years (chart courtesy of CCFA):

Diesel market share. Chart courtesy of CCFA.

BEV Best Sellers

The list of France’s best selling BEVs in March looks very similar to February, except for the huge end-of-quarter surge of 4,524 Tesla Model 3 registrations, which alone took 29% of the month’s BEV sales.

For context, the Model 3’s French sales in the whole 2020 stood at 6,477 units, and in 2019 totalled 6,455 units. The March surge put Tesla’s Q1 cumulative volume (5763 units) some ~25% ahead of the runner up Peugeot e-208 (estimated at ~4600 units).

Tesla Model 3. Image courtesy of Tesla.

From recent powertrain-splits, we can estimate that the Peugeot e-208 added around 1800 units in March, holding its lead over the Renault Zoe (1519 units). The recently released Renault Twingo ZE looks to have taken #4 spot with its strongest result so far, around 1200 units added, just ahead of the Fiat 500e (~1000 est.).

Outside the above top 5, the followers are the Kia Niro EV at around 660 units, just ahead of the VW ID.3, Peugeot e-2008, Hyundai Kona EV, and Opel Corsa-e (roughly in that order). The BEV results for multi-powertrain models are provisional estimates, and Jose will report precise details later this month when the figures become available.

Renault Twingo EV. Image courtesy of Renault.

With March scoring 16.1% share already, well above 2020’s 11.2% total, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for the French plugin market? April has historically been a low ebb for plugins, but momentum recovers in the mid summer, so we can expect to see well over 20% share occurring frequently in the back end of 2021, and perhaps see highs of 30%.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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