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May In France: Plugin Vehicle Sales At 17.3% Share — Up 2.3× Year On Year

Europe’s second largest auto market, France, saw 17.3% plugin electric vehicle share in May 2021, up from 7.45% in May 2020. Old-school non-electrified combustion powertrains continued to fall, now at 63.7% share. Following the pattern seen so far in 2021, May’s overall auto volumes remained around 25% down from pre-Covid norms.

May’s combined plugin vehicle share of 17.3% consisted of 8.2% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 9.1% plugin hybrids (PHEVs), in line with last month’s weightings. Year-to-date cumulative plugin share now stands at 14.8%, up from 7.4% by this point in 2020.

Non-electrified combustion powertrains stood at 63.7% share in May 2021, sharply down from 82.7% in May 2020, with diesel at 21.9% and petrol at 41.8%. They may be dropping to 50% combined in the final months of the year.

Best Selling BEVs in May

As usual, we don’t yet have the complete breakdown of BEV model sales data from CCFA, only a smattering of data from dedicated BEV models, like the Renault ZOE, Tesla Model 3, and Volkswagen ID.3. After a quiet April, the Tesla Model 3 registered a decent 2119 units in May, and took the year-to-date cumulative volume lead (8083 units YTD). The Renault ZOE had an even stronger 2577 volume in May, but due to typically half that monthly volume from January to April, still trails the Tesla year-to-date, at 7448 units.

We can estimate that the Peugeot e-208 roughly maintained its recent rate of around 1500 units per month, so coming in around 7500 cumulative sales year-to-date, neck-and-neck with the ZOE.

Rounding out the top 5 BEVs, the Renault Twingo ZE should have sold another ~700 units in May (and ~3700 YTD), and the Fiat 500e another ~700 units in May (and ~3300 YTD).

Other popular BEVs in France based on recent trends include the Kia Niro (~600/month), Peugeot e-2008 (~440), Hyundai Kona (~395), Volkswagen ID.3 (~360/month and 365 confirmed in May), and Mini Cooper SE (~350/month).

The Volkswagen ID.4 has also just started delivering in notable volume, seeing 372 units in April and likely even more in May. Jose will report the official model rankings once the full data is available later this month.

May’s top seller, the Renault ZOE. Image courtesy: Renault

Over recent years, April through June have tended to see more modest plugin share than July and onwards, so for May to have recorded a share of 17.3% already means that the rest of the year looks well set. With another Tesla high tide in June, and all other models steadily increasing in volume also, how close to 20% will we see next month?

Looking at that 17.3% result, it’s worth remembering that the May 2019 plugin share in France was “just” 2.5%, and the May 2020 share was 7.5%. The market has come far and fast, and will continue this momentum. I’m still expecting over 20% full year share to now be almost certain in France, with peak end-of-year months touching as high as 30% share. What are your predictions? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. 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 MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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