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Affordable Dacia Spring Takes Pole As France Hits Record 23.5% Plugin EV Share

November saw France, Europe’s second largest auto market, hit a record 23.5% plugin electric vehicle share, up from 14.8% share a year ago. Legacy diesels and plugless hybrids continued to stagnate below 20% share, with petrol taking a breath at just under 37% share, before its next dive. The overall auto market was down nearly 30% from seasonal norms, at just under 122,000 units. Europe’s most affordable all-electric, the Dacia Spring, took the #1 spot for plugins in November at 2895 sales.

November’s combined plugin result of 23.5% comprised full battery electrics (BEVs) at 13.5%, with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) taking 10.0%. This continues the recent trend of reweighting towards BEVs compared to the more even contributions in H1 2021.

France’s cumulative plugin share for 2021 now stands at 17.6%, from 10.2% by this point in 2020. The trailing 3 months have seen cumulative share of 22.6%.

Diesel and plugless hybrids continued to stagnate. Diesels have been below 20% share for each of the past 4 months. Meanwhile the late-90s technology of plugless hybrids peaked at 19.3% back in August and has dropped to around 18% since.

Petrol saw a slight hold in November regaining 36.7% share of new sales from 36.0% in October. This will be a temporary rest stop on the highway to oblivion, however. For context, in November 2019, just two years ago, petrol had around 60% share.

Popular BEV Models

This month we have an early release of data on the top selling BEVs, thanks to AAA Data.

The Dacia Spring, following its extremely rapid climb to Europe’s fourth most popular BEV in October, became France’s top seller in November, with 2895 units delivered. This puts it well ahead of the long term favourite Renault Zoe, at 2189 units.

 

The Spring’s success makes perfect sense — it is the most affordable BEV in Europe, and starts from around €12,400 in France after various incentives. November is the first month it has been available in these volumes in the country.

The Spring’s diminutive size (whilst still seating 4) is ideal both for Europe’s urban areas and narrow rural roads. With 150-180km range on highway, and closer to 280 km in slower urban driving, the Spring has pretty good range for the price point. On a single charge, the Spring can accommodate the average weekly commuting distance in France (~170 km).

Some might be wondering if the Spring’s November win in France is just a fluke of delivery logistics, but that’s not the case. Even though it has only recently started delivering in volume, the Spring already leads the trailing 3 month rankings:

The Spring is still climbing in monthly volumes (previously it was closer to 2,000 units) and — if supply is sufficient — has every potential to maintain at least 3,000 units per month (if not considerably higher). This will give it an even stronger gap over the runner up Renault Zoe.

The rest of the trailing-3-month rankings reflect the steady-state delivery volume of most of the top BEV models, closely mirroring November’s stand-alone rankings.

The Tesla Model Y is the other exception; having only recently appeared, and still with some low supply months (just 26 deliveries in October), it should steadily climb higher than the #12 spot it currently occupies, closer to (and then surpassing) the #7 spot it grabbed in November’s ranking.

Once the Berlin Gigafactory’s output ramps up, the Model Y may displace its sibling, the Tesla Model 3 in the top 3 spots. That’s of course unlikely to happen before the most affordable standard range version is made available — currently only the long range Model Y variants are offered starting from €60,000. That’s a big gap from the Model 3’s €44,000 entry price.

Certainly for the Dacia Spring, and many of the other top BEVs, supply constraints are still in play, rather than demand constraints. The Kia Niro and Hyundai Kona still have very long waiting lists in Europe, for example.

The MG ZS, (ranked #4 in France in the month of August) is another under-supplied vehicle, relative to potential demand. Especially now that the refreshed ZS has 440 km (273 miles) of WLTP range, and an outstanding 7 year warranty.

Dacia Spring. Image Courtesy: Dacia

The Spring’s success speaks volumes about European consumers’ largely unmet demand for affordable BEVs. This is the revolution waiting in the wings for anyone bringing affordable (sub €20,000 or even sub €15,000) electric vehicles to the European market. The Spring is the first to do so, but won’t be the last. The BYD Yuan, and BYD Dolphin, both in the top 20 in China, will also do very well in Europe, for example, if they can start well below €20,000.

Having high volume BEVs at these price points will considerably accelerate Europe’s transition, making almost all non-BEVs redundant and unsaleable much past 2025*. This timeline will then effectively remove almost all combustion vehicles from the daily-driven fleet by 2035, drastically improving urban air quality, eradicating road-transport climate emissions, and redirecting energy budgets towards more renewables.

*In any scenario new ICE vehicles will anyway be not be saleable for much longer, since the BEV cat is already so obviously out of the bag now (thanks Tesla) and widely understood to be the better choice, the more economical choice, and the cleaner choice. Folks will quickly just refuse to buy “new” ICE vehicles. So auto makers had better just get on with the transition ASAP if they want to stay in business. 

Outlook

At the end of last month’s report I was still expecting to see over 25% in November, based on recent momentum and the historical rate of seasonal uptick, but we’re not quite there yet. Given that slight break in trend, it’s hard to know how high things will go in the peak month of December.

Almost certainly we will see plugin share in the high 20s (at or above 27%), and I would still bet on 30% being breached, but we will have to wait and see. To reiterate – this is not about limited demand, it’s more about how many BEVs the auto makers are able (or willing) to supply.

It’s also about auto makers shuffling their limited supplies around European markets. The much larger market of Germany saw above 30% plugin share already in October, showing that consumer sentiment is moving very quickly, and evidently quicker than most auto makers are prepared for.

What are your thoughts? Are you on a waiting list for a BEV? Please jump in to the comments and let us know.

 

 
 
 
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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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