Originally published on opportunity:energy.
It is a momentous time for electric vehicles throughout Europe. September sales have brought fresh records throughout the continent’s major car markets, and all this is happening in the background of a wider crisis for traditional powertrains. In a quarter-end month filled with expectations for market share as well as individual model exploits, Italy’s car market does not disappoint and boasts historical highs and new entries.
UNRAE statistics are out and once again we find ourselves updating recent highs (and lows, depending on the technology). The overall car market slowed down by a whole third year on year (YoY) to just over 106,000 registrations — they were more than 157,000 a year ago — with traditional petrol and diesel engines more than halving their numbers and reaching new lows — 25% and 19.1%, respectively, well below the 50% mark combined. Traditional hybrids now make up 31.3%, near August’s records, thus consolidating their status as most popular powertrain ahead of pure petrol, a position they’ve been holding since July.
Full electrics are the absolute stars of the month. With a record 8,492 units, BEVs more than doubled YoY (from 4,099 registrations a year ago, when current incentives started), updating the previous March high and reaching a fantastic 8% market share. That result was helped by the lower than usual total registration numbers. With such a quarter-end performance, can we hope for an even stronger push in the remaining three months? Certainly. However, this will depend on supply from manufacturers meeting demand.
Plug-in hybrids scored 5,507 registrations, far from recent levels but nonetheless an almost 90% increase YoY. This figure is worth 5.2% market share, in line with the rest of the year but much lower than the BEV result. With PHEV registrations steady, we could be witnessing a return to favour for full electric models over plug-in hybrids, as was the case until the end of last year. In the era of the chip shortage, are legacy carmakers finally ready to push their full electric offerings “full steam” over ICE and hybrid variants? It would seem wise to do so, and we shall see how they position themselves in the last quarter of 2021.
With this exceptional month, combined plug-in registrations soared to an outstanding 13.2% market share, itself a new record (they broke past 10% for the first time in July). This result closes in on the now quickly declining levels of pure diesel powertrains. At this pace, we are poised to witness a historic shift soon, when plug-ins will overtake diesels for the first time, perhaps as early as December. So, which models are responsible for September’s unprecedented performance? Let’s find out in the monthly top 10 BEVs chart.
Perhaps overdue, but we finally see the new Dacia Spring taking Italy’s market by storm. It actually set an all-time record for any single BEV model: 1,876 monthly registrations. The Romanian mini made its first appearance in June, and it now comes back with a bang, overtaking market-leading Fiat 500e. The 500e has to settle for a now rare second place with a still outstanding 1,289 registrations (its second best monthly result, only behind the December 2020 result). Will the Spring be the new queen of this minicar-loving European market? If Dacia can make enough of them, this will easily be the case. Fiat is forewarned!
A strong Tesla Model 3 scored 999 registrations to complete the September podium, its own second best showing to date. The American D-segment BEV is a consistent outlier in this A- and B-segment loving market, and has a strong chance of consolidating this position in the year’s final rankings, as we will see in a separate update. Given the current waiting times for deliveries and the imminent start of production at Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory, no doubt we will see Model 3 growing even further in coming months.
Off the podium, the Smart ForTwo followed in a distant 4th with 477 registrations — still among Italy’s super-favourite mini BEVs. It’s in the 5th position. However, the Tesla Model Y just landed with its very first batch of 430 units and is opening a new era which will likely see a consistent presence of two Teslas in the top 10. Will the popular crossover BEV match or improve on the Model 3’s success? It would seem a sure bet, but its higher price tag makes for a tough challenge in this market, particularly now that competing, competitive full-electric SUVs are a reality.
The lower half of the chart is populated by a fairly standard group. The Renault Zoe, once queen of Europe, trails the Model Y in 6th place with 408 registrations, followed by the Volkswagen ID.3 in 7th with 356 registrations. The German BEV is now consistently among Italy’s top 10 models on a monthly basis, but it is not as successful here as in other European countries, where it usually challenges the Model 3 in the top spots. The Opel Corsa-e, Volkswagen e-up!, and Peugeot e-2008 — with over 200 registrations each — close out this hot Q3-ending monthly sales chart.
Things are starting to move fast in Europe and Italy alike. The exponential growth of electric mobility is showing its daring face to the shocked mainstream media as BEVs reach the tipping point and ICE sales continue declining at a remarkable pace. Rising fossil fuel prices will only speed up the process as we head towards a 2022 that will be full of electric surprises and fossil failures.