15% Of Auto Sales In Europe Were Fully Electric Vehicles In November

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Despite smaller growth rates, the European passenger plugin vehicle market is still in the fast lane. More than 221,000 plugin vehicles were registered in November — which is +33% year over year (YoY). This performance is even more impressive when we consider that the overall auto market continued to fall off a cliff — down 18% last month, with the 864,000 units registered last month being the lowest November in 30 years!

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 26% (15% full electrics/BEVs). That result pulled the 2021 plugin vehicle (PEV) share to 18.4% (9.6% for BEVs alone).

Growth came from both plugin fields, but while BEVs (+59% YoY) keep gaining momentum, PHEVs (+7%) are slowing down significantly, allowing pure electrics to represent the significant majority of registrations in November (60% vs. 40%). That allowed BEVs to gain 1 percentage point share in the YTD count (52% vs. 48%).

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 (+30% YoY!!!) avoided a double-digit drop.

The current Korean OEM fortunes are benefiting from the fact that they didn’t cancel their microchip orders in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which — added to a strong bet on electrification — is making Hyundai–Kia one of the leading OEMs in the overall automotive market, and maybe the legacy OEM best prepared to deal with the current electrification process.

In another sign of the disruption happening before our eyes, the once perennial leader VW Golf was just #35 in November, and the best selling Volkswagen, the T-Roc crossover, was just 5th, below the #1 Renault Clio, #2 Dacia Sandero, #3 Peugeot 208, and #4 Peugeot 2008.

With all top 4 spots now in the hands of French OEMs, it looks they have been less impacted by the chip shortage than others.

Anyways, though, let’s look closer at November’s plugin top 5:

#1 Tesla Model 3 — It was another great month for the Tesla sedan, which had 10,912 registrations, its best off-peak month in Europe so far, allowing it to be #12 in the overall market. With December being another peak month, expect it to be the best selling model in the overall market this month, possibly with another record score (perhaps over 25,000 units). Regarding November, the Model 3 deliveries were concentrated on the continent’s larger markets, like Germany (3,825 units), the UK (3,100), and France (1,500).

#2 Renault Zoe — Despite a year-best score, its 8,888 deliveries in November are still down by some 1,000 units compared to the same month last year. 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 November were the usual, with Germany leading (4,200 units), followed by its native France in 2nd (2,189 units), while the UK was a distant 3rd (with a much less significant 700 units).

#3 Dacia Spring — It has been a long time coming, but we knew the moment of cheap(ish) EVs would come someday. The Sino-Romanian EV won its first podium presence in only its third month of public deliveries (previously, the small crossover was only available for fleets), thanks to another record, 5,770 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 a 5-digit waiting list. With monthly orders at over 5,000 units/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 an EV disruptor in several markets, like its native Romania (1,195 units last month) and Italy (416 units). Meanwhile, France (2,895 units) is absorbing much of the production, while the little EV is also finding its corner of the market in the increasingly important German market (657 units). Meanwhile, most markets in Europe are still getting symbolic deliveries of the Dacia EV, if any at all.

#4 Tesla Model Y — Like the Model 3, it was a good month for Tesla’s crossover. In November, the China-made crossover had 5,437 registrations, a number that will easily be surpassed next year when Giga Berlin comes online and the midsize crossover jumps to the front of the pack. Regarding last month’s performance, the Model Y’s main markets were Germany (1,717 units), Norway (1,013), and France (642).

#5 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 … 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 November was no exception — thanks to 5,249 registrations, the Enyaq had another top 5 presence, beating all the internal competition at Volkswagen Group, including its theoretical superior rank, the VW ID.4. Regarding last month’s performance, the Enyaq’s main market was Germany (1,417 units), with the Netherlands (998 units), the UK (550), and Norway (488 units) being the crossover’s best markets.

Looking at the rest of the November table, one should highlight a few record performances, like the one set by the #8 Peugeot e-208. With 4,516 units, it was the best selling model in the Stellantis stable. In the second half of the table, the #12 Mini Cooper EV (4,113 units) and #14 Hyundai Ioniq 5 (3,989 units) also hit record scores. Further, while the British hot hatch score was somewhat surprising, the same cannot be said about the Korean retro-futuristic-XL-hatch, which is continuing to proceed with its delivery ramp-up process — perhaps reaching a top 10 position soon (not only possible, but even likely).

Still in the second half of the table, we should mention the #19 Nissan Leaf’s year-best score of 3,699 units, while higher in the ranking, we have the #9 Mercedes GLC PHEV also recording a year-best performance, with 4,377 units allowing the German SUV to be last month’s best selling plugin hybrid.

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Speaking of three-pointed-star models, the Mercedes EQA (3,008 registrations) continued its ramp-up, ending the month in #21, fewer than 400 units from the #20 Ford Kuga PHEV, which will allow the German crossover to join the table soon. This comes right on time for Mercedes, because it needs to find a replacement for the GLC PHEV as the market moves further into BEVs. (On a personal note, having been regularly at Ionity chargers in the past few weeks, I saw several EQAs charging there, so whoever is buying them, they are making a lot of long trips with these compact EVs.)

Still below the top 20, we have several BEVs shining, like the BMW iX3 scoring a record 2,202 registrations, highlighting a positive month for BMW’s BEVs. The big iX rodent SUV had its first volume month, 1,300 registrations, and the much awaited i4 midsizer has finally landed, with 229 deliveries, no doubt still demonstration units.

Speaking of landing months, the sporty Cupra Born has landed, with 846 registrations. The Spanish VW ID.3-sibling-but-with-more-salero is set to jump into the top 20 soon, but the striking Kia EV6 is even closer to doing so, having delivered 2,651 units in its 2nd volume month.

Finally, a reference goes out to two year-best scores, with the stylish Polestar 2 getting 2,546 registrations thanks to the cheaper versions and the Porsche Taycan getting 2,178 registrations, no doubt helped by the new Cross Turismo body.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, while the leadership position is already decided this year, it looks like the runner-up spot is still up for grabs, after a disappointing performance by the Volkswagen ID.3 in November (#7, with 4,864 registrations). The veteran Renault Zoe managed to cut down the disadvantage compared to the German EV by 4,000 units in November, to just 2,000 units, so unless Volkswagen pushes the ID.3 into a decent performance — say, 7,000 units — we could see the French hatchback steal the silver medal from the ID.3 in the last days of the year. Stay tuned, because the last stage of the race will surely bring some surprises, and this could be one of them!

The PHEV title is firmly in the hands of the #5 Ford Kuga PHEV, which is succeeding the 2020 winner, the Mercedes A250e, which is just #19 in the table this year and 7th in the PHEV category. That says a lot about the volatility of the PHEV category.

Elsewhere, the main news was the rise and rise of two models, with the #7 Fiat 500e surpassing the Hyundai Kona EV while the Skoda Enyaq was also up one position, to 10th. With the Volvo XC40 PHEV just 13 units ahead, another position change is certain to happen here. This would lead to 9 BEVs in the top 10 by the end of the year.

And the Czech EV might even go higher in the last stage of the race. With the #7 Fiat 500e and #8 Hyundai Kona EV some 1,000 units ahead of the Skoda model, we might see the Enyaq surprise everyone in December and become next month’s Climber of the Month, surpassing these two models in one swipe.

In the second half of the table, the Nissan Leaf (hey, remember me?) jumped two positions and is now #16. We also have a new face in the table, with the BMW X1 PHEV showing up in #20. Although, with the Smart Fortwo EV just 38 units behind, and a number of recent BEVs rapidly showing up in the rearview mirror of the BMW model, do not expect it to be around here by the end of the year.

In the automaker ranking, things are pretty balanced. For the moment, Volkswagen (10%, down 1 percentage point) is still ahead of #2 Mercedes (9%), with the three-pointed star automaker keeping its distance ahead of arch-rival BMW (8%). Volkswagen is the favorite, but a last-minute surprise could still happen 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 the two German brands don’t step up their deliveries.

Volvo and Audi, both with 6% share, now have the company of Renault and Hyundai, with these two last brands increasing their share by 1 point last month, to 6% each.

Arranging things by automotive group, Volkswagen Group is far ahead, with 24% share, down 1 point but 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 Daimler surpassed BMW Group and now has a 2,000 unit lead over its Bavarian rival. Furthermore, Hyundai–Kia is also now at 10% share, so we might see the Korean group get in the way of the two German premium OEMs and steal the show at the last minute!

Or … in the unlikely event that the Korean OEM drops the ball in December, the rising #6 Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance (9%), much thanks to the recent success of the Dacia Spring, is cutting the distance between it and the OEMs higher up and could steal the 5th position.

With four OEMs separated by just 1% share, anything can happen, 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 468 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes