Plugin Vehicles = 23% of New Car Sales in France

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Plugins continue on the rise in France, with last month’s plugin vehicle registrations ending at 27,109 units, divided between 15,582 BEVs and 11,527 PHEVs. The former jumped 55% year over year (YoY), while the latter were up 13%.

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 31% compared to October 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 23% last month (13% BEV). Pure electrics once again outsold PHEVs — 57% share of the plugin market vs. 43% — allowing BEVs to continue recovering in the year-to-date (YTD) race (52% BEV vs 48% PHEV). Expect BEVs to continue gaining ground in the last two months 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% (8.9% BEV). That is a good 6-percentage-point increase over the 2020 result (11%), and it could climb a couple more percentage points by the end of the 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 36% of sales in October in the overall market, against 44% a year ago, and the latter (diesel) falling even harder, having just 19% of sales last month, a steep 13-percentage-point drop compared to October 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 Renault Zoe, with a rather underwhelming 2,348 registrations, but that was still enough to be 9th overall, while the (not so big) surprise of the month was the little Dacia Spring EV ending the month in 2nd, with a record 2,204 units, its second record score in a row, putting the Sino-Romanian #13 in the overall market. Will we see Dacia’s EV joining the overall top 10 soon? Even better, will we see it beat the Zoe and Model 3 in the race for Best Selling EV?

Speaking of the Tesla Model 3, the midsizer had its best first month of the quarter ever, with 951 units, which could mean one of two things: either Tesla is finally smoothing out deliveries throughout the quarter, or … it is getting ready for yet another record month! Will we see it go over 5,000 units in one month? Will we see it win a top 5 position in the overall ranking? Now, that would be news! (I think I have written something like this elsewhere recently….)

In 8th we get the Peugeot e-2008 crossover, which scored a record performance of 655 registrations last month, confirming its popularity in the market.

Elsewhere, a mention goes out to the #15 Renault Megane PHEV, which scored 464 registrations, a new record for the compact model. For a model that is on its way into the sunset (the first 9 units of the new generation Renault Megane EV units were registered last month), it seems the plugin hybrid model is looking to end its career on a high note.

At the end of the table, we have the oh so fresh Kia EV6 in #19, with 408 deliveries in its first full sales month, a great start for the sporty Kia. It is already positioning itself above its platform relative Hyundai Ioniq 5, which started its career in France five months ago and scored 278 registrations last month. In #20 we have the VW ID.4, which had its best month since last March, with 399 registrations.

Below the top 20, besides a few models ramping up deliveries, like the Skoda Enyaq (292 units) and the Citroen C4 EV (342), we should also mention the good month of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (207 units) and the promising landing of SAIC’s MG Marvel R, with the midsize crossover registering 144 units in its first month on the market.

Last, but not the least, the Peugeot 308 PHEV has finally started to be delivered in significant volumes (222 units), which is just as well, because it happens at a time when its future arch rival, the fully electric Renault Megane EV, has registered its first units. The duel between these two compact models, Renault vs. Peugeot, BEV vs. PHEV, will be one of the main stories to look for next year in France.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, the #1 Tesla Model 3 kept a safe distance over the #2 Renault Zoe, while the Zoe kept a safe distance over the #3 Peugeot e-208. So, one can say that the top two positions are already taken, with the interesting fact that the Tesla Model 3 will be the best selling EV this year both in Germany and in France, beating their domestic competitors for the first time.

Add in the fact that the Tesla Model 3 is also the best selling EV in the United Kingdom, and it is nothing short of relevant that all three markets that make the backbone of the European EV market will crown Tesla’s midsize sedan as their king.

Enjoy it while you can, Model 3, because 2022 will be much harder to retain those titles, starting with the fact that the internal competition (Model Y) will be much stronger.

Elsewhere, the Fiat 500e climbed another position, to 5th, surpassing the Renault Captur PHEV and making it three Stellantis models in the top 5.

But the Climber of the Month was the Dacia Spring EV, which jumped 6 positions, landing in #9. The little EV is poised to climb further in the ranking in the next couple of months, maybe ending 2021 in #5.

Actually, to guess how high the Sino-Romanian will end this year is one of the few interest points of the current 2021 ranking, because most of the year’s trophies and sub-trophies are already given:

  • Best Selling EV — Tesla Model 3
  • Silver Medalist — Renault Zoe
  • Bronze Medalist — Peugeot e-208 or Peugeot 3008 PHEV (I would guess Peugeot will want the EV to end ahead)
  • Best Selling PHEV & Best Selling Crossover/SUV — Peugeot 3008 PHEV
  • Best Selling City EV — Fiat 500e; Dacia Spring EV; Renault Twingo EV (Fiat’s the favorite, but you never know if the basic Dacia might come from behind and steal the show at the last moment).

Looking at the manufacturer ranking, the leader — Peugeot (16%) — lost some ground over rival Renault (15%, up 1 percentage point) in the race for the title, while Tesla (9% share) closed out the podium, ahead of Mercedes (6%) and Volkswagen (6%).

As for OEMs, Stellantis is the major force, with a commanding 29% share. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is far behind in #2, but has seen its share rise once again by 2 percentage points, to 19% share, recovering 4% share in the last two months. That’s in no small part 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%), with the Korean group closing in on the Californian Texan automaker, now with fewer than 300 units separating both.

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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 472 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes