22% of New Car Sales Were Plugin Car Sales in France in September

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Plugins continue on the rise in France, with last month’s plugin registrations ending at 28,781 units, divided between 16,984 BEVs and 11,797 PHEVs. The former jumped 70% year over year (YoY), while the latter were up 50%.

In isolation, these numbers might sound meh. After all, we’ve been spoiled by doubling or tripling sales every month. But the real story is the overall market continuing to crash — it was down 21% compared to September 2020. With that context, things look much more positive, and that shows in the plugin vehicle share of the country’s overall auto market, as it reached 22% last month (13% BEV). Pure electrics once again outsold PHEVs — 59% share of the plugin market vs 41% — allowing BEVs to win the upper hand in the year-to-date (YTD) rate (51% BEV vs 49% PHEV). Expect BEVs to continue gaining ground in the remainder of the year.

The year-to-date (YTD) registrations are now over 200,000 units, pulling the market share of plugin vehicles to a record 17% (8.5% BEV). That is a good 6 percentage point increase over the 2020 result (11%), and it looks like France is on target for the 20% plugin vehicle share I previously predicted for the whole year.

For some powertrains to go up, others need to come down, and that is what is happening to regular petrol and diesel sales, with the former (petrol) representing 38% of sales in September in the overall market, against 45% a year ago, and the latter (diesel) falling even harder, having just 18% of sales last month, a steep 14 percentage point drop compared to September 2020’s 32%. And this in what was once a diesel-loving market. At this pace, diesel sales will be dead in just two years time! So, this is what disruption looks like….

Last month’s best seller was the Tesla Model 3, thanks to 2,833 deliveries, a rather underwhelming result (many units were probably diverted to Germany…). That was still enough to be last month’s best seller in the plugin category, and 9th overall, while also being the best selling foreign model. Of course, it was a Tesla high-tide month, so that kind of thing is expected and the results will be quite different in October, when Tesla has a quarterly delivery lull.

In the remaining positions on the podium, the Renault Zoe grabbed silver in the plugin category, and #13 overall, while the #3 Peugeot e-208 had its best score in 15 months, thanks to 2,090 deliveries.

In 4th we have the surprise of the month, with the Dacia Spring celebrating its first delivery month for the general public, ending with a record 2,089 registrations. That’s just a single unit below the 3rd position! It also meant there were 4 BEVs in the top 4 positions.

How high will the sub-20,000 euro EV go once at full speed? I think podium positions are possible, and considering the popularity of its Dacia Sandero ICE cousin, I imagine the little Sino-Romanian model could even win a few best seller awards. Best of all, the volume arrival of the little crossover means that city EVs with usable range are finally becoming affordable, and the Spring is a valuable option for those who hold value for money in high regard.

Elsewhere, a mention goes out to the #8 Volkswagen ID.3, which scored 749 registrations, a new year best for the hatchback model. Could that preview a regular presence in the top 10 during the next 3 months?

In the second half of the table, we have the Tesla Model Y in #17, with 430 deliveries, and the Peugeot 508 PHEV in #16, scoring its best result since January 2020 (454 registrations) — possibly thanks to volume delivery of the new PSE high performance version.

Below the top 20, it was a slow month. The Skoda Enyaq (231 units) continued its successful career, the Nissan Leaf (hey, remember me?) had a delivery peak (260 registrations) last month, while Stellantis had three models on the rise, with the Opel Corsa EV registering 301 units while its crossover sibling, the Mokka EV, continued its production ramp-up, scoring a record 119 registrations. Meanwhile, the Citroen C4 EV ramp-up allowed the compact hatchback to deliver a record 294 units, so expect the French EV to join the table soon.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, leader Tesla Model 3 kept a safe distance over runner-up Renault Zoe, while the same can be said regarding the Renault EV and the 3rd position, now in the hands of the Peugeot e-208. The e-208 actually surpassed its 3008 PHEV stablemate in the race for bronze, which means that we now have a 100% BEV podium.

The Fiat 500e is also getting closer to the #5 Renault Captur PHEV, and with only 139 units separating the two models, we could see a third Stellantis model in the top 5 as soon as October.

When looking for actual positions changes, we need to go down to the second half of the table, with the first being the Volkswagen ID.3 jumping 3 positions, to #12. In #15, we now have the Dacia Spring, which joined the top 20 this month. The little model is poised to climb further in the ranking during the remainder of the year, maybe ending 2021 in #7.

Finally, the Renault Megane PHEV rejoined the table, in #20, with the current French compact plugin serving as a placeholder until the attractive, 100% BEV, new-generation Renault Megane lands in the beginning of next year, giving the French automaker’s sales a much needed shot in arm. Its current best seller, the Zoe, has seen its sales nosedive by 40% YoY!

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, everything remained stable, Peugeot (16%) has kept good distance over rival Renault (14%) in the race for the title, while Tesla (9% share) closes out the podium, ahead of Mercedes (6%) and Volkswagen (6%, up 1 point).

As for OEMs, Stellantis is the major force, with a commanding 29% share (down 1 percentage point last month). The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is far behind in #2, but has seen its share rise by 2%, to 17% share, thanks to the volume deliveries of the Dacia Spring. The best foreign OEM is Volkswagen Group, with 13% share.

Off the podium, we have Tesla in 4th (9%), and then Hyundai-Kia (8%).

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José Pontes

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.

José Pontes has 468 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes