13% of Auto Sales in Europe Were Fully Electric Vehicles in October

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Despite smaller growth rates, the European passenger plugin vehicle market is still in the fast lane. More than 184,000 plugin vehicles were registered in October — which is +26% 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 29% last month, with the 800,000 units registered last month being the lowest score in October since the ’90s!

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% (13% full electrics/BEVs). That result pulled the 2021 plugin vehicle (PEV) share to 17.8% (9.1% for BEVs alone).

Growth came from both plugin fields, but while BEVs (+44% YoY) are keeping momentum, PHEVs (+8%) are slowing down significantly, allowing pure electrics to represent the majority of registrations in October (57% vs 43%). That allowed BEVs to gain 1% share in the YTD count (51% vs 49%).

Also worthy of notice is the fact that the overall market is being heavily disrupted by other factors as well, like the chip shortage, which is tanking registrations from most OEMs. Of the major players, only Hyundai–Kia (+7% YoY) avoided a double-digit drop. Additionally, the chip shortage is benefitting smaller automakers, the highlight being Tesla (+114% YoY), but also the fully electric Smart (+5%) and the heavily electrified Porsche (+13%), for example.

And disruption isn’t affecting all legacy OEMs the same. In a historic event, Stellantis, for the first time ever, managed to beat Volkswagen Group in October — across Europe!!! The German conglomerate was unable to place a single model, not even the once all-mighty VW Golf, in the overall top 6. Stellantis placed 4 models (#1 Peugeot 2008; #3 Peugeot 208; #5 Fiat 500; #6 Fiat Panda), leaving the remaining two spots (#2 Renault Clio; #4 Dacia Sandero) for the Renault Group.

Now we understand why some people in Volkswagen Group might be pissed bothered with their CEO, Herbert Diess. Anyways, though, let’s look closer at October’s plugin top 5:

#1 Renault Zoe — Despite a win last month, its 6,503 deliveries in October represent a 35% sales drop YoY for the French hatchback. So, the wrinkles on the Zoe’s face are starting to become noticeable. Maybe it’s time for a significant price cut in order to stop the bleeding? I mean, the new Megane EV is still a few months away, and the competition is pushing forward. In any case, the main markets in October were the usual, with France leading (2,348 units), followed by Germany in 2nd (2,209 units), and Italy in 3rd (with a much less significant 334 units).

#2 Volkswagen ID.3 — After a couple of promising months, the German hatchback has again dropped the ball, with the 5,695 deliveries of last month not enough to beat the veteran Zoe in the race for best seller. Will we see it improve in the last two months of the year? Regarding October, the ID.3 had its home market as its main source of sales. Germany logged 2,145 registrations, followed by the United Kingdom in #2 (1,000 units) and France in #3 (448 units).

#3 Skoda Enyaq — Despite 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 October was no exception — thanks to 5,284 registrations, the Enyaq was the bronze medalist, ending ahead of its theoretical superior rank, the VW ID.4. Regarding last month’s performance, the Enyaq’s main market was Germany (1,790 units), with Norway (760 units), and the Netherlands (551 units) being the crossover’s 2nd and 3rd best markets.

#4 Dacia Spring — It has been a long time coming, but we knew the moment of cheap(ish) EVs would come someday. This Sino-Romanian reached the top 5 in only its second month of public deliveries (previously, the small crossover was only available for fleets), thanks to a record 5,161 registrations. Sitting on a scarcely explored end of the European market (EVs below €20,000), the little EV has a large pool almost all to itself, so it’s not much of a surprise that the Dacia model already has 40,000 orders, 15,000 of which have already been delivered. With monthly orders now at 5,000/month, the rollout is still to reach a few significant markets — and 80% of orders are coming from new customers to the brand! The Spring is already a success and is on its way to becoming a regular presence in this top 5 and an EV disruptor in several markets, like its native Romania (277 units last month) and Spain (261 units). Meanwhile, Italy (1,778 units) and France (2,204) are welcoming with open arms the cheapest EV on sale in Europe.

#5 Volkswagen ID.4 — Like the ID.3, much is expected from the Volkswagen crossover. Although, Europe is proving to be a harder market to crack than previously imagined. In October, the Volkswagen crossover had 4,966 registrations, being surpassed by its Czech sibling, the Enyaq, in the race for a podium position. Regarding last month’s performance, the ID.4’s main markets have a Scandinavian tone, with Norway (913 units) and Sweden (640 units) being the crossover’s 2nd and 3rd best markets, respectively, only behind Germany (1,022).

Looking at the rest of the October table, one should highlight the close race between the #9 Ford Kuga PHEV and #10 Peugeot 3008 PHEV, with the Ford crossover winning another category best seller title.

But it’s in the second half of the table that things get interesting, with the quirky Smart Fortwo EV reaching the 13th position thanks to a year-best score of 3,270 registrations, proving once again that there is a market for tiny two-seaters in Europe (and a few Chinese automakers are surely looking to cash in on this in the not-too-distant future). Another veteran also had its best score in 2021 last month, with the #18 BMW i3 scoring 2,706 registrations, more than the #20 BMW 3-Series (2,595), the automaker’s Best Seller YTD! This once again shows BMW’s lack of a star player. That i4 is badly needed to spice up sales. …

Speaking of star players, Audi’s Q4 e-tron (3,181 registrations) and Mercedes EQA (2,769 registrations) continued their ramp up. The two crossovers were already each brand’s best sellers in the table, which in the case of Mercedes comes right on time, as the GLC PHEV seems to be losing charge.

Still looking at the top 20, a reference goes out to the #16 spot of the Tesla Model 3, which is its best first-month-of-the-quarter since July 2019, which could mean one of two things — either Tesla is indeed smoothing out deliveries throughout the quarter, or … we could be headed for another record month for the midsizer in December! And maybe another #1 in the overall market?…

Below the top 20, we have several BEVs shining, like the Peugeot e-2008 EV (2,519 registrations), Mini Cooper EV (2,441 registrations), Renault Twingo (2,224 registrations), and Opel Corsa EV (registrations), while the stylish Polestar 2 had a year best score (2,109 units) thanks to the cheaper versions, and the equally striking Kia EV6 had its first full month on the market, with an impressive 1,729 registrations (600 units above what its platform cousin Hyundai Ioniq 5 had in its full deliveries month). So, we might see it aim higher in the table than the Hyundai EV.

Final references go out to the recent Mercedes EQS, which had 390 registrations, already beating the sales of the PHEV version of the Mercedes S-Class on a 3-to-1 ratio, while the BYD Tang EV had its first volume month in Europe — 363 units, all in Norway.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, the podium positions are already decided this year. The Tesla Model 3 is succeeding the Renault Zoe as Europe’s best seller, and the Volkswagen ID.3 is reaching silver this year, after last year’s bronze medal. The PHEV title is in the hands of the Ford Kuga PHEV. The main news of the month is the rise and rise of two models, with the #8 Fiat 500e surpassing the Volvo XC40 PHEV. The little Italian is now looking to surpass the #7 Hyundai Kona EV in the last two stages of the race.

Same story for the Skoda Enyaq, which jumped two positions last month, to #11, and is now looking to reach the top 10, possibly removing the Volvo XC40 PHEV from the top 10. That would make it 9 BEVs in the top 10 by the end of the year.

Still in the second half of the table, the Volvo XC60 PHEV switched positions again with the Audi e-tron, so we once again have the Swedish SUV in 16th.

In the automaker ranking, things are more balanced. For the moment, Volkswagen (11%, up 1 percentage point) is keeping its advantage over #2 Mercedes (9%), with the three-pointed star automaker last month surpassing arch-rival BMW (8%, down 1 percentage point). Volkswagen is the favorite, but a lot can still change by the end of the year.

Off the podium, Tesla (7%) is stable in 4th, but could threaten both BMW and Mercedes if the US automaker has a strong peak in December and both German brands don’t step up their deliveries.

Volvo and Audi, both with 6% share, follow on Tesla’s back, ahead of Kia, Peugeot, Renault, and Hyundai, each with 5% each.

Arranging things by automotive group, Volkswagen Group is far ahead, with 25% share, safely above Stellantis (13%).

The runner-up multinational conglomerate managed to keep a solid distance between it and the tight race for the bronze medal, where BMW Group has just a 200 unit lead over Daimler. Furthermore, rising Hyundai–Kia is also now at 10% share (up 1 point), just 5,000 units behind the two German OEMs, so we might even see the Korean group end the year ahead of these two and win the last place in the podium!

And the bad news for the two German premium groups does not end there, as the #6 Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance (9%), much thanks to the recent success of the Dacia Spring, has also started to cut the distances between it and the OEMs higher up. That means we have 4 OEMs separated by just 1% share, so bring on the popcorn, the race for bronze will be interesting!

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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 480 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes