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Tesla Model 3 = #1 in France!

In a red hot market in which fully electric vehicles (BEVs) jumped 183% year over year (YoY) and plugin hybrids (PHEVs) shot up 6-fold in March, plugin sales had their second best month ever in France. In total, 29,737 plugin vehicles were registered, allowing the plugin share to reach 16% last month (8.5% BEV). That pulled the year-to-date (YTD) share to a record 14% (6.9% BEV), which is already a 3 percentage point increase over the full-year 2020 result (11%). The 20% plugin vehicle share I predicted for the whole of this year looks well on target.

So, this is what disruption looks like. It is on display in last month’s best sellers table, with the highlight being the extraordinary performance of the Tesla Model 3. Its 4,524 deliveries allowed it to become the first foreign model to win gold in France! And it had almost 3× as many units as the runner-up, the Peugeot e-208. This also allowed it to join the top 10 for the first time in the overall market (it was 9th) and to become March’s best selling foreign model in France, period.

This is a truly historic moment. Putting this into context for our US readers, this is like the Volkswagen ID.4 in a few months beating the Tesla Model 3 in the USA. Unimaginable, right? Well, that’s what happened here to the once all-conquering Renault Zoe. …

And adding insult to injury, the Zoe failed to win a podium seat, as the remaining medal positions went to arch-rival Peugeot, with the small e-208 winning silver and the 3008 PHEV crossover taking bronze, thanks to a record 1,571 units. So, Peugeot beat the Renault models in both the BEV and the PHEV category.

But not all was bad news for Renault. The #6 Renault Twingo EV managed to keep its Stellantis rival Fiat 500e at bay, while the compact Megane PHEV joined the table for the first time, in #19, thanks to a record 423 units.

One of the problems that Renault has in its home market is that it’s holding down the fort almost on its own, as Mitsubishi is basically a non-entity in France, Nissan is surviving by deep discounting the Leaf, and the Dacia Spring is still taking its first baby steps. On the other side, the Stellantis conglomerate had 7 models from 5 different brands in the March top 20, three of them (Peugeot 3008 PHEV, Peugeot e-2008, and Jeep Compass PHEV) with record performances. They even allowed themselves to grant Opel an off month. Impressive stuff, isn’t it?

Elsewhere, a mention goes out to the record score of the Mercedes GLC300e/de, with 778 registrations, while the Mini Cooper EV joined the table in #16 thanks to a record 499 deliveries and the Volkswagen ID.3 showed up in a still discreet #13, but Volkswagen has brighter news elsewhere. The Volkswagen Tiguan PHEV landed on the market in #20, with 417 registrations in March, only 9 units ahead of another Volkswagen landing, the much anticipated ID.4, which started its career in #21 thanks to 408 registrations. Further, that was just one unit ahead of the #22 Volkswagen Golf PHEV. Maybe one of the reasons for the ID.3’s below par performances has to do with the fierce internal competition?

Still below the top 20, a mention goes out to the 360 deliveries of the Audi A3 PHEV, a new record for the nameplate, while the BMW X1 PHEV had 376 registrations, which could mean that the compact Beemer will show up on the table soon.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, once again the main news is the disruptive force of the Tesla Model 3, which shot it into the leadership position not only of the plugin market, but more importantly, the overall midsize market, profiting from last month’s unusual high tide to secure the midsize leadership position with twice the number of units of runner-up Peugeot 508 (2,326 registrations). Funny enough, the French midsizer has 42% of its sales coming from its PHEV versions, which speaks volumes to the current electrification trend.

Another model jumping positions was the Mercedes GLC300e/de, going up from #15 to #11.

In the city car race, the Renault Twingo EV climbed one position and gained some distance over the #8 Fiat 500e.

In the second half of the table, we now have the Volkswagen ID.3 up to #15, and March saw 3 models joining the table, with the Nissan Leaf in #18, the Mini Cooper EV in #19, and the Renault Megane PHEV in #20.

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, leader Peugeot dropped 4 percentage points in share, to 18%, but it is still ahead of runner-up Renault (15%, down 1 point), while Tesla (9% share, up 5 points) is now closing out the podium, well ahead of Kia and Volkswagen (both with 5%).

As for OEMs, Stellantis is the major force, with a commanding 31% share. In #2, the Renault-Nissan Alliance is at only 16%, while the best foreign OEM is now Volkswagen Group, with 11% share.

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Written By

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.


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