France April Plugin Vehicle Registrations Hit 14.8% Share — Up 2× Year On Year

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France, Europe’s second largest auto market, saw 14.8% plugin electric vehicle share in April 2021, up 2× from 7.8% share in April 2020. Overall auto volumes remained subdued, down 25% from pre-COVID seasonal averages, continuing the same rate of weakness seen from January through March. Best selling full electrics in April included the Peugeot e-208, Renault Zoe, and Renault Twingo, with Tesla not shipping in volume this month.

April’s combined plugin share of 14.8% comprised 6.8% full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 8.0% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This represents a strong swing towards PHEV from April 2020’s 5.8% BEV and 2.0% PHEV.

The actual volume of BEV sales rose almost 8× year-on-year from April 2020, to 9,598 units. Although headline BEV share is down from March 2021 (8.5%), the underlying BEV share growth can be seen if we set aside Tesla’s performance (whose European shipments vary greatly over a quarter). When we set Tesla aside, the BEV share of the overall French market actually grew healthily in April (6.71%) over March (6.19%).

The 2021 cumulative plugin share now stands at a combined 14.2%, comprising 6.9% BEV and 7.3% PHEV. Old-school combustion (non-electrified) powertrain share was down from April 2020’s combined 80.6% share to 67.1% share in April 2021. Here’s the powertrain share evolution over the recent months. On a slippery slope, Diesel has dropped its share from 31.6% to 23.5% over the past year:

Best Selling BEVs

Whereas March 2021 saw Tesla hit a record 4,524 Model 3 sales in France, April had few-to-no inbound Tesla vehicles (just 201 Model 3 sales), giving other BEVs a chance to grab the month’s top spots.

Peugeot e-208. Image courtesy of Peugeot.

We don’t have full data points yet, but based on recent trends, the Peugeot e-208 should have taken the pole position with around 1400 (est.) unit sales in April. The Renault Zoe gained 1,265 (confirmed) sales, and may have been challenged by its younger sibling, the Renault Twingo, which has been steeply ramping since January and already surpassed a 1,114 monthly rate in March.

Likewise, the Stellantis group’s Fiat 500e has also been on a healthy ramp up, and passed 838 units in March, and possibly trending to pass 1,000 in April. The other solidly trending BEV favourites have been the Kia Niro (~650 units per month recently), Peugeot e-2008 (~500), and Hyundai Kona (~400), Nissan LEAF (~300), and Mini Cooper SE (~270).

The Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 are both now stepping up in France. The ID.3 saturated the market in December 2020 (2,550 units) in an end-of-year registration push to meet fleet emissions, so was very subdued in January and February. It came back with a respectable 527 units in March and has likely trended higher still in April, getting close to the top 5 spots. Starting from almost zero, the ID.4 saw its first volume deliveries in March (408 units) and who knows where its ramp up will end – quite possibly above the ID.3 and entering into the top 5 spots.

The other model of interest is Europe’s most affordable widely-available BEV, the Dacia Spring, which saw an initial 229 French registrations in March (from almost none prior), and is still just getting started. With a modest but usable 230 km (143 mile) WLTP range, a price in France that comes in at a little over €12,000 after incentives, and with an 8-year 125,000 km battery warranty, you just can’t argue with the value for folks wanting to go electric. This is the very definition of a mass-market BEV for Europe.

Dacia Spring. Image Courtesy: Dacia

Over recent years April has typically been a low point for plugin share in France, and grows from here, especially in August and later months. For April to be holding 14.8% plugin share (despite almost no Tesla deliveries) bodes well for full year 2021.

With the cumulative share already past 14%, I’d expect over 20% full year share to now be almost certain, with peak end-of-year months reaching around 30% share. What are your estimates? 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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