32% Plugin Vehicle Share In France! Tesla Model 3 = #8 In Overall Market.

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While the overall French auto market had a horrible 2020 (-26% YoY), it was followed by a not much better 2021 (only up 1% compared to the previous year). The ~1.7 million units of these two years were the lowest results since 1975. Nonetheless, plugin sales continued to grow, with December sales (+6% YoY) signaling a record month. Full electric vehicles (BEVs) were up 12%, to 23,168 units, growing faster than PHEVs (+3%, 15,490 units). That allowed BEVs to have a 60% share among plugin vehicles in December, signaling the return of this market to their BEV-friendly roots. Although, year to date (YTD), pure electrics ended with just 53% share, a significant fall from the 60% share they had in the previous year. Will 2022 see a more BEV-friendly market?

With December at 32% plugin share (19% BEV) and the full 2021 share ending at 18.3% (9.8% BEV), disruption is now fully unfolding, with the 2021 result ending well above the 2020 share of 11% (6.7% BEV). These 2021 results are a very far cry from the 3% of 2019.

Yep, just two years ago we were celebrating 3% plugin share. … How things have changed!

Interestingly, the current market disruption is also benefiting plug-less hybrids (HEVs), as they jumped this year from 10% to 17% share, so 2021 ended with 35% of all auto sales coming from electrified models, up from 21% in 2020. That’s an amazing progression. Meanwhile, petrol lost 7% share in the last 12 months, from the 47% of 2020 (and 58% of 2019) to the current 40%. Diesel lost 10% share, dropping to its current 21%.

With the 2021 plugin share ending firmly in the two-digit region, expect this market to be disrupted further next year. Let’s say … 25% by the end of 2022? 30%? More?

Looking at last month’s best sellers, there was an interesting race between the Tesla Model 3 and Renault Zoe, with the midsizer winning by 400 units, thanks to 3,959 units. That allowed the Model 3 to be #8 in the overall market, while the French hatchback was #9 overall, thus putting two BEVs in the overall top 10.

The little Dacia Spring took bronze, leaving the Peugeot e-208 off the podium. The Dacia Spring ended #13 in the overall market.

With the small Dacia closing in on the top two, the Chinese-built EV is becoming a success story. It is breaking new ground price-wise and will be a serious candidate for the 2022 title, along with the Model 3, the Zoe, and the future Renault Megane EV.

Interestingly enough, and a sign of what’s to come, two of the four main candidates for the 2022 title are made in China….

Speaking of city EVs, the Renault Twingo had a year-best score, 1,321 registrations, underlining a positive month for Renault. The Zoe also had a year-best score (3,532 registrations) and the Renault Megane PHEV broke its personal record, with 575 registrations.

On the PHEV side, the star of the month was the Mercedes GLC PHEV, #5 in December, with a record 1,407 registrations, beating the local hero Peugeot 3008 PHEV and winning the category’s monthly best seller title. A second Mercedes also hit a personal best score, as the #13 Mercedes A250e scored 651 registrations.

In a record month, there were several models shining. The compact VW ID.3 had 979 registrations in #9, a new year best, while one place below, we have the hot-hatch Mini Cooper EV, which had a record 940 registrations. The Porsche Cayenne PHEV followed, with 750 deliveries, a new best for the high-end sports SUV.

And because a high tide lifts all boats, even the Nissan Leaf had a good month, delivering 677 units, its best score in 17 months. Volvo and Kia also had reasons to smile. The revised XC60 PHEV recorded 619 registrations, a new best for the Swedish SUV, while the sporty Kia had a record 599 registrations.

Looking at the 2021 ranking, the Tesla Model 3 has broken the Renault Zoe’s continued winning streak. The Zoe was the best selling EV in France since 2013. Although, one can say that this year’s results had more to do with the French hatchback’s weaknesses (sales were down 37% compared to the previous year) than the midsizer’s merits.

But the Zoe’s wrinkles are not Tesla’s problem, so congrats to the winner and it should remain the main candidate for the 2022 title, and here’s why: first, the Renault Zoe is aging quickly; second, the Dacia Spring might be production constrained for a long time; third, the Renault Megane EV is giving away precious advantage by only being available in large volumes in Q2; and fourth, unlike in neighboring Germany and other markets, the Model Y won’t steal the Model 3’s thunder in France since a) this is not (yet) as SUV-crazed a market as others and b) this is a more price-sensitive market, so the price difference between the Model 3 and Model Y will keep many buyers from jumping into the crossover.

The bronze medal went to the Peugeot e-208 EV, which dropped a spot compared to the previous year, but with the crossover 3008 PHEV ending in 4th and winning the best selling PHEV title, and two other models in the top 20, Peugeot can’t really complain, can it? Especially keep in mind the Stellantis strategy of relying on a strong lineup (7 models in the top 20) instead of star players.

Regarding last-minute position changes, the Renault Twingo switched positions with its stablemate Captur PHEV, ending the year in 7th. That meant there were 6 BEVs in the top 7 positions, while the Mercedes GLC PHEV reached the top 10 at the expense of the Kia Niro EV.

The Climber of the Month was the VW ID.3, which jumped two positions into #12. That is still a disappointing position, especially considering that last year it had ended in #9 with only a few months on the market.

Still in the second half of the table, we have the Mini Cooper EV climbing one spot, to #15, while the Renault Megane PHEV climbed to #19.

Looking by size categories, the city car category was the most exciting to follow, from the early lead of the Renault Twingo EV, to the Fiat 500e’s rise to the leadership position, and finally to the Dacia Spring stealing the show in the last stages of the race. Also interesting to realise: while the 2020 category best seller (the VW e-Up) was only #22, we now have three city EVs in the top 10. And what do you know, city EVs do sell in Europe….

Looking at the 2020 best selling full size model, the honor went to the BMW X5 PHEV. With 2,772 deliveries, it beat the Porsche Cayenne PHEV (2,361 units), while the category’s best selling BEV was once again the Audi e-tron — but with a lower score than in 2020 (489 units vs 804 in 2020).

In the remaining categories, the Renault Zoe has comfortably beaten the Peugeot e-208, the Peugeot 3008 PHEV won in the compact category (the best selling BEV was the VW ID.3), and in the midsize category, the Tesla Model 3 trounced everyone else.

Finally, a reference for the light commercial vehicles (LCVs), where the Renault Kangoo EV (3,857 units) continued to reign supreme, tripling the result of the runner-up Citroen e-Jumpy (914 units).

Looking at the brand ranking, disruption has also drawn blood. While in the model ranking it was Tesla ending Renault’s spell, in the automaker table, it was Peugeot (15%, down 1 percentage point) ending the 8 year reign of Renault (15%), by some 600 units.

In fact, disruption is also affecting the overall market and turning the market upside down. While in the overall European market Volkswagen is losing its grip, in France it is Renault losing its edge, being beaten by Peugeot for the first time since 1939(!). The Sochaux maker has won its domestic market for the first time since 1935! 1935!!! Now, THAT’s disruption.

Adding insult to injury, Peugeot did this while at the same time increasing significantly the average price of each unit sold, so not only did it sell more than Renault, but it did so without resorting to discounts or cheap models.

Tesla (9%) was the 2021 bronze medalist, followed by Mercedes (7%) and Volkswagen (5%).

Looking at sales by OEM, Stellantis (28%, down 1 point) was the kingpin, thanks to a strong lineup, followed by Renault–Nissan (20%), and then Volkswagen Group (13%) ending in 3rd.

Below the podium, we have Tesla (9%), followed by a rising Hyundai–Kia (8%, up 1 point).

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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 473 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes