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Tesla Model 3 #1 in May in Europe

The European passenger plugin vehicle market continues on the rise, having gotten over 178,000 registrations in April and 796,000 registrations YTD — which is +158% year over year (YoY). Last month’s plugin vehicle share of the overall auto market was 16% (8% full electrics/BEVs), which keeps the 2021 plugin vehicle (PEV) share at 15% (7% for BEVs alone).

Growth came from both plugin fields, with sales being divided almost equally between them. That was especially thanks to the BEV push from the Volkswagen Group, a strong mid-quarter month from Tesla, and the Renault Zoe’s slow return to form. In fact, this led to the first fully BEV top 5 in a year! Go, BEVs!

#1 Tesla Model 3 — The sports sedan returned from its usual holidays (the first month of the quarter) by scoring 8,858 deliveries last month, its best off-peak performance ever in Europe, which is a promising sign for the upcoming June high tide. Regarding May, the Model 3’s main markets were Germany (2,749 units), France (2,111), and the UK (1,905), with Norway (504) following at some distance.

#2 Volkswagen ID.3 — The German hatchback is slowly returning to form, having 6,227 deliveries last month, its best score in 2021. That allowed it to win its second silver medal in a row. Regarding May, the ID.3’s sales performance was heavily based in its home market, with Germany having 2,252 registrations. That was followed by the United Kingdom (1,350 units) in #2 and Italy (473 units) in #3.

#3 Renault Zoe — The 5,856 deliveries in May show that the French hatchback is starting to recover from the year-end peak and then slump. The May numbers were the French hatchback’s best result in 2021, and expect June to be even better. In any case, the main markets in May were the usual, with France leading (2,577 units), followed by Germany in #2 (1,521 units), and the United Kingdom a distant 3rd (551 units).

#4 Skoda Enyaq — Skoda’s take on the MEB platform, the Enyaq, has started its career on the right track, with the station-wagon-in-SUV-drag jumping to the top 5 in May  — or top 4 even — thanks to a record  5,464 registrations. That even beats the parent company’s own VW ID.4. (Ouch!) Last month, the best markets for the Skoda EV were Germany (1,646 units), the Netherlands (848 units), and Norway (795 units). Without major production constraints and experiencing strong demand, Skoda’s first made-from-scratch EV is a strong candidate not only for a 2021 top 20 presence soon, but also for a top 10 spot this year!

#5 Volkswagen ID.4 — Sitting on the vortex of the current hottest trends (plugins and compact crossovers) much is expected from the new Volkswagen, especially considering that its ID.3 sibling hasn’t yet set the market on fire. … After promising results in previous months, it was April’s best selling EV in Europe, but then the ID.4 fell below the 5,000 units mark in May. Still, with 3 MEB-based models in the top 5, the Volkswagen Galaxy can’t really complain! Regarding last month’s performance, the German model’s best markets were its domestic market (1,277 units), Norway (774 units), and Sweden (693 units).

Europe Plugin Vehicle Sales in May 2021

Looking at the remaining May table, one should highlight the Fiat 500e ending in #9, thanks to 3,674 registrations, its highest standing in the table so far, beating its Volkswagen e-Up arch rival by a sizable 493 units. It seems the city car category has a new king in town … but more on that later.

The #13 Volkswagen Golf PHEV returned to the table, thanks to a strong 3,066 unit score, just like the Renault Captur PHEV. Although, in this case, the small crossover had to settle with a low 19th spot.

Looking at the top 20, the OEM with the highest number of models was Volkswagen Group, with 6 models. Besides the aforementioned models, the Audi e-tron was 16th, while the Volkswagen e-Up was 12th.

And there’s more firepower from Volkswagen Group rising from below the top 20, with the sporty crossover Cupra Formentor PHEV having scored a record 2,148 registrations last month while it’s more aspirational cousin, the Audi Q3 PHEV, also hit a record, 2,124 registrations. Expect these two to show up on the table soon.

Still outside the top 20, a mention is due for the good performance of the Opel Corsa-e (2,336 units), while the popular Hyundai Tucson debuted its PHEV version with a bang, registering an impressive 2,021 units right in its first month. Expect the Korean SUV to become a familiar face in the monthly top 20 as well.

Finally, the gorgeous Ford Mustang Mach-E had its first full month in Europe, delivering 2,262 registrations right off the bat, missing out on a top 20 position by just 154 units, but also allowing it to beat the Mercedes EQC and Polestar 2 in the midsize BEV category last month. Expect the ‘Stang to jump into the YTD runner-up category position soon, only behind the all mighty Tesla Model 3.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, the main news was the Renault Zoe climbing to the 3rd spot, now making it a 100% BEV podium — the first time this has happened this year.

Besides dropping to 4th, the Volvo XC40 PHEV saw the rising Ford Kuga PHEV getting closer, with the Dearborn SUV jumping three spots, to #6. While the 2,908 units that separate the two models is still significant, we could still see the PHEV title being discussed between these two.

Another model on the rise is the VW ID.4, which went up 3 spots, to #5, and could reach the 4th position soon. The Peugeot 3008 PHEV also had a good month, climbing to 8th.

Europe Plugin Vehicle Sales in January–May 2021

In the second half of the table, the big sensation is the 5 position jump of the Fiat 500e, into #15, now just 717 units behind the current city car leader, the VW e-Up. Expect the rising Italian to become the class leader soon.

This goes in line with the current trend of EVs becoming mainstream. Just as Renault is replicating its fossil-fuel vehicle leadership (Renault Clio) in the EV market (Zoe) in the B-segment/subcompact class, and the same thing is happening with Volkswagen in the class above with the VW Golf/ID.3 tandem, Fiat is on its way to doing the same in the city car category. The ICE-powered Fiat 500 has long been the favorite in this market, and now its electric twin is replicating that success in the EV market.

This market behavior is being more or less replicated across the other categories as EVs go further mainstream. Familiarity plays an increasingly important role. Although, to this rule, there is one important exception: the midsize class (D-segment), where the Tesla Model 3 rules without any kind of serious competition, but that speaks more of the category best seller’s refusal to see the writing on the wall than anything else. After all, where are the BMW 3-Series EV, Audi A4 e-tron, and Mercedes EQC? (Well, to Mercedes’ merit, they have one, but it’s an expensive SUV with less range than the Model 3 Standard Range….)

So far, the Model 3 only had the 21st century SAAB niche Polestar 2, the short-ranged Mercedes EQC, and little else as competition. The first serious competition comes in the form of the new Ford Mustang Mach-E. Although, do not expect Tesla-rivaling numbers from it, because A) Ford is no longer a strong brand in this Premium-focused category, and B) even if it was met with skyrocketing demand, Ford would not have production capability to meet demand.

And while BMW will finally launch its i4 model later this year, the new model has one key thing missing: an entry level version capable of going neck-to-neck with the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range. Sure, probably next year a cheaper i4 version will be launched, but for this year, the Model 3 can continue to rack up sales, without any major concerns for competition in Europe.

Back to the YTD table, we welcome back the VW Golf PHEV, now in #20, making that 5 Volkswagen Group models in the top 20. Furthermore, a 6th (the Skoda Enyaq) will probably be joining in the next couple of months.

Unlike the model ranking, where we already have a clear favorite, in the automaker ranking, things are much more balanced, but Volkswagen (11%) is slowly gaining ground over #2 Mercedes (10%) and #3 BMW (9%, down 1 percentage point). Meanwhile, #4 Volvo, with 8%, is waiting for an opportunity to climb into a medal position.

In 5th we have Peugeot (6%), closely followed by #6 Renault (also 6% share). Audi, Tesla, and Kia are each sitting with 5%, waiting in the wings.

Looking by automotive group, Volkswagen Group is far ahead, with 25% share (up 2 points), safely ahead of Stellantis (14%), Daimler (12%), and BMW (11%, down 1 point).

Do not expect Volkswagen Group to lose its commanding position in Europe anytime soon, as neither Stellantis (not enough firepower at the higher end of the market) nor Daimler or BMW (not enough firepower at the lower end of the market) are in position to challenge the Volkswagen Galaxy.

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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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