Before I start with the text, I want to share that I had 3 working titles for this article. One was “Tesla Model 3 Was the Best Selling Car in Europe.” The second was “1-2 Win for Tesla.” The third was the one that I ended up sticking in the article. There was just so much happening last month that I wasn’t sure which to choose. I ended up with “Tesla Leads the BEV Takeover,” because while Tesla’s performance was impressive in itself, it happens in a wider context of BEV adoption, as proven by the fact that all top 13 spots in September belonged to BEVs — but more on that later.
The European passenger plugin vehicle market is staying in the fast lane. More than 227,000 plugin vehicles were registered in September — which is +42% year over year (YoY). This performance is even more impressive when we consider that the overall auto market continues to fall off a cliff — down 25% last month!
With plugin registrations rising fast and the overall market shrinking significantly, plugin vehicle market share had to rise significantly, and it did. Last month’s plugin vehicle share of the overall European auto market was 23% (15% full electrics/BEVs). That result pulled the 2021 plugin vehicle (PEV) share to 17.3% (8.7% for BEVs alone).
Growth came from both plugin fields, with BEVs (+54% YoY) outrunning PHEVs (+25%) this time, allowing them to represent the majority of registrations in September (62% vs 38%). That pulled BEVs to the front in the YTD count by some 1,000 units.
Also worthy of notice is the fact that plugless hybrids now represent 21% of all registrations, which is already above what pure diesel sales have been this year (18%). Added to the plugin share, 38% of all passenger car sales this year in Europe have some kind of electrification….
#1 Tesla Model 3 — Although not scoring a record month, since Tesla’s midsizer had already delivered over 26,000 units last June, the sports sedan had another great result, scoring 24,952 deliveries in September. That meant that Tesla’s bread and butter nameplate became the best selling automobile in the overall market. That’s a major feat and required a number of factors — the usual end-of-quarter Tesla peak happening at a time where the overall market was contracting for various reasons (-25% YoY), plus the end of the reign of the once all-mighty VW Golf, which is slowly giving way to its ID.3 successor. Add in the fact that Renault is doing the same thing to the usual runner-up in the European ranking, with the Clio living alongside its EV sibling, the Zoe. Overall, all of those things made it easier to claim the throne. In fact, if we were to add the VW Golf with the ID.3 registration numbers and the Clio with the Zoe, the Model 3 would have been 3rd last month, behind the 25,899 units of the VW Golf/ID.3 and the 25,072 of the Renault Clio/Zoe tandem. So, as Larry David would say: Curb your enthusiasm. Yes, it is an EV landmark for the future, but do not think this means Tesla will have the overall European market in the bag anytime soon, as I have seen written in some places. Well, this individual comment is already too long, so I will cut to the chase and mention the markets where the Model 3 excelled: the UK (6,900), Germany (6,828 units), France (2,833), Norway (2,218), Switzerland (1,062), and Italy (1,000) were countries where the Model 3 reached four-digit scores (just barely in that final case).
#2 Tesla Model Y — Tesla’s crossover jumped to the runner-up position in only its 2nd month in Europe, scoring 9,496 deliveries in September, which is a full letter of intention on where the Model Y is aiming. It will be interesting to see if the Model 3 is affected by the arrival of its younger, larger, and more practical sibling. While in China the sedan market is still a thing, in Europe it’s mostly reduced to a niche, with the Model 3 being the exception, because it was the cheapest way to have a Tesla. Now, with the more palatable Model Y on the field, it will be interesting to see how the two midsize Teslas live with each other. Trying to identify the first signals, one can see that Tesla focused Model Y deliveries on the Nordic countries, with Norway leading the charge with 3,562 units, followed by Sweden with 1,213 units, Germany in 3rd with 1,073 units, and Switzerland 4th with just 567 units. Interestingly, the VW ID.4 also has the same 3 top markets (NO, SE, DE), which I don’t think is a coincidence. …
#3 Volkswagen ID.3 — The German hatchback is slowly returning to form, getting 8,392 deliveries last month, its best score in 2021. Expect it to continue improving in the remainder of the year. It should be a regular presence on the podium, probably also winning a couple more monthly best seller titles. Regarding September, the ID.3 had its home market as its main source of sales. Germany logged 2,694 registrations, followed by the United Kingdom in #2 (2,100 units) and France in #3 (749 units).
#4 Renault Zoe — Its 6,808 deliveries in September represent a 40% sales drop YoY for the French hatchback — so, while in isolation its 4th place result doesn’t sound so bad, when we look at where the Zoe was a year ago, we can start to notice the wrinkles on the Zoe’s face. Maybe it’s time for a significant price cut in order to stop the bleeding? I mean, the new Megane EV is at least 6 months away, and the competition is pushing forward every single month. … In any case, the main markets in September were the usual, with France (2,382 units) leading by far, Germany (1,536) in 2nd, and the United Kingdom in 3rd (1,400 units).
#5 Skoda Enyaq — Sitting on the vortex of the current hottest trends (plugins and compact crossovers), the Enyaq was supposed to be just another Skoda, a spacious workhorse serving as lieutenant to General Volkswagen ID.4. Only … while the ID.4 came out a bit meh, Skoda hit the sweet spot. The Enyaq has all the attributes of a Skoda, like space, commonsenseness, utility, and affordable pricing, and it added a simple yet interesting and, dare I say, premium design to its first MEB-based EV, gathering positive views from many. All of that must be contributing to the Czech crossover’s success. And September was no exception — thanks to 6,048 registrations, the Enyaq was 5th among electric vehicles, ending over 1,000 units ahead of its theoretical superior rank, the VW ID.4. Regarding last month’s performance, the Enyaq’s main market was Germany (2,027 units), with Norway (787 units), the United Kingdom (600 units), and the Netherlands (575) being the crossover’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best markets.
Looking at the rest of the September table, one should highlight that the best selling PHEV was only #14 and there were just 4 plugin hybrids in the top 20, with the Ford Kuga PHEV winning the category trophy thanks to 3,695 registrations.
Above the Ford plugin hybrid, it was all BEVs, and the best part of that was that these 13 BEV models created quite a diverse group — from city cars/A-segment cars (Fiat 500e, Dacia Spring), to subcompacts/B-segment cars (Renault Zoe, Peugeot e-208, Hyundai Kona EV) and compacts/C-segment (VW ID.3/ID.4, Kia Niro EV), to midsizers (Tesla Model 3/Model Y/ Hyundai Ioniq 5), there’s a little bit for everyone, which is a big advancement over what happened a few years ago, when it was just Tesla and a few smaller models.
Among these models, there were a few highlights, like the record performances of the #6 Kia Niro EV (5,527 units) and #9 Peugeot e-208 (4,752), and the first private delivery month of the #10 Dacia Spring (4,181). Additionally, the #12 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (3,732) continued its deliveries ramp-up and the #13 Audi e-tron (3,702) had its best month of the year in September.
The Audi Q4 e-tron joined the table, in #19, thanks to a record 2,894 registrations. It was the 4th MEB-based model in this month’s top 20. The recent BEV push has even put some wind in the Nissan LEAF’s sails, with the Japanese hatchback reaching #16 last month thanks to 3,301 registrations, its best score in 6 months.
Speaking of veteran models benefitting from the changing winds, below the top 20, we have the BMW i3 getting 2,396 registrations, its best score this year, allowing it to beat its iX3 sibling (2,179 registrations). We also have two Stellantis models are on the rise, with the Opel Corsa EV (2,751 registrations) and Peugeot e-2008 (2,543 registrations) looking to return to the best sellers table, just as the Mercedes EQA is (2,541).
Finally, the quirky Mazda MX-30 had its best score so far in 2021, with 2,161 registrations, so we might have a surprise coming from this crossover-that-thinks-it’s-a-sports-car soon.
Looking at the 2021 ranking, the main news is the BEV takeover of the ranking, with the #6 Kia Niro EV and #7 Hyundai Kona EV surpassing the Volvo XC40 PHEV as well as the #9 Fiat 500e switching positions with the BMW 330e. The little Italian is now looking to surpass the #8 Volvo XC40 PHEV in the next couple of months.
It was the same story in the second half of the table, with the #11 Peugeot e-208 now running ahead of its 3008 PHEV sibling and looking to overcome the BMW 330e soon. The Nissan LEAF jumped two positions, to #18, while the #16 Audi e-tron surpassed the Volvo XC60 PHEV.
Another model on the rise is the Skoda Enyaq, which jumped to #13 and might join the top 10 already in October.
Interestingly, BEVs are now the majority in the top 20, with 12 representatives, and the best selling PHEV (Ford Kuga PHEV) is 5th (for now). Expect this trend to consolidate through the rest of the year, with more BEVs joining the table. The Ford Kuga PHEV, the most likely winner of the PHEV trophy, might still lose a few more positions by the end of the year.
Unlike the model ranking, where the leadership position is not really up for discussion, in the automaker ranking, things are more balanced. For the moment, Volkswagen (10%, down 1 percentage point) is maintaining its advantage over #2 BMW (9%) and #3 Mercedes (9%). Volkswagen is the favorite, but a lot can still change by the end of the year.
Off the podium, Tesla (7%, up 1 point) profited from its latest peak month to win some margin over Peugeot and Audi, both with 6% share.
Arranging things by automotive group, Volkswagen Group is far ahead, with 25% share, safely above Stellantis (13%, down 1%).
Despite the 1% drop, the multinational conglomerate managed to keep the distances between it and its closest pursuer, the #3 BMW Group (10%, down 1%).
On the other hand, #4 Daimler (10%) is now only 3,000 units behind its arch rival, so we could see a position change soon.
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 a position to challenge the Volkswagen Galaxy.
Finally, Hyundai–Kia (9%) has won a little more space over the #6 Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, so the Korean group can start to look upwards and go after the two German groups ahead of it.
On the topic of Hyundai and Kia, looking at September’s overall top 30 brands in Europe, we can see that the overall crumbling of the automotive market is affecting almost everyone, with two-digit drops across the board. Only 5 brands posted positive results. Two of those were Tesla (+81% YoY) and MG (+82%), which obviously benefit from being EV-based lineups while EVs are the only thing growing right now. A third one was DS (+9%), a small surprise, until we realise that the small French premium brand has a short and electrified lineup. Finally, at the Big Boys table (top 10), #5 Kia (+8%) and #6 Hyundai (+6%) were the only ones escaping the current doom and gloom, thanks to heavily electrified lineups.