100% Electric Vehicles = 10% of New Car Sales in Europe in January

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Kia Niro EV #1 in a balanced market

The European passenger plug-in vehicle market scored 156,000 registrations in January (+39% YoY), with BEVs (+78%) growing significantly faster than PHEVs (+11%). Indeed, BEVs started the year solidly ahead of PHEVs (53% BEVs/47% PHEVs), a significant difference compared to what happened in the same month last year. At that time, pure electrics were the minority, having only 42% of the plugin vehicle market. With the beginning of the year usually being the time when PHEVs are stronger, it looks like plugin hybrids are set to drop significantly compared to their 2021 score (46%). Are we coming close to an inflection point where PHEVs also start losing sales to BEVs?

Adding last month’s positive results to an overall market in the doldrums (-2% YoY, the worst January in 30 years), the 2022 plugin share started the year at 19% (10% for BEVs alone), 5 points above January 2021 and already at the level of the final 2021 market share (19% PEV, 10% BEV).

With BEV share already starting at 10%, disruption is here to stay and I wouldn’t be surprised if the year ended with 30% plugin share, with BEVs having two thirds of that, or 20% share.

In January, with Tesla taking the month off (first month of the quarter) and some of the heavyweights (Volkswagen, Renault) still hung over from the end-of-year peak, it was time for a few surprises at the top of the table. One interesting fact was that 4 out of the top 5 models were compact crossovers, which says a lot about what is hot right now.

Bring on the popcorn, because the next few months will surely be fun to watch!

Looking at the monthly model ranking:

#1 Kia Niro EV — The Korean crossover scored 4,035 registrations last month, an amazing 29% surge compared to the same month last year, especially considering that a new-generation Niro is around the corner. If the ramp-up of the striking new generation happens without hiccups, Kia’s compact crossover could be headed to an outstanding 2022. To be continued…. Looking back at January’s results, the two main markets were the UK (1,200 registrations) and Sweden (996 registrations), followed by France at a distant third (392 registrations).

#2 Peugeot 3008 PHEV — Now this was a surprise. The French crossover joined the podium and became the leader in its category with 3,615 registrations. Peugeot’s plugin hybrid profited from a fortuity of circumstances, like some of the best sellers spending the month in hangover mode and the fact that Stellantis didn’t need to rush deliveries to meet its CO2 target at the end of last year. As a result, the Peugeot plugin hybrid managed to pull off this great result. Although, one wonders for how long the Peugeot crossover will manage to keep this best seller title in the PHEV category. Looking at individual countries, sales were heavily based the model’s domestic market (1,230 registrations), followed from afar by Germany (588 registrations) and Spain (311 registrations).

#3 Audi Q4 e-tron — The German model hit 3,585 registrations last month, making it the best selling model based on the MEB platform. With production still ramping up, we should see the compact Audi more often here, with the following months being the real test for EV demand and/or production priorities. Volkswagen Group might prioritize the more expensive/profitable models … to the benefit of the Q4 e-tron over their platform siblings. Regarding January performances, the Audi crossover registrations were evenly distributed over the following countries: the United Kingdom (690 units), Norway (643 units), and Germany (637 units).

#4 Renault Zoe — The 3,432 deliveries of January haven’t allowed it to start the year on the podium, but having been the 2021 medalist with the best score, it can’t really complain and this won’t endanger the model’s future prospects. Regarding January, France (1,362 units) and Germany (824 units) did the usual heavy lifting, with the United Kingdom a distant 3rd with only 290 registrations.

#5 Volvo XC40 PHEV — With electrification high on Volvo’s priorities list, the Swedish brand is, along with Porsche, one of the two most electrified legacy automakers in Europe. So, it’s no wonder the PHEV version of the compact SUV hit 3,425 registrations last month, highlighting the growth prospects of the brand — especially on its BEV side. The XC40 EV and the fully electric and sporty C40 have much potential. While the XC40 PHEV’s major market was Germany (625 registrations), there were several others also helping in significant volumes, like the UK (550 registrations), Belgium (384 registrations), and Sweden (348 registrations).

Outside the top 5, a mention is due for the strong month the Koreans had. Not only did the Kia Niro EV grab the monthly trophy, but Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 retro-XL-hatchback was #6, with the striking model being followed in 7th by its smaller sibling, the Kona EV, all while the sporty Kia EV6 ended the month in #12. There were thus 4 Hyundai–Kia models in the European top 12, an impressive performance which can be explained by the fact that the Korean makes are navigating the chip crisis unscathed. Last month, Kia was up 39% in the overall European market, while Hyundai was up 32% in the same period. Additionally, though, their EV offerings are quite possibly the most competitive models in their categories, with the top range-vs-price ratios and great reliability. It’s no wonder they are making important inroads into the European EV market.

Regarding fresh faces, besides the aforementioned Kia EV6, the Dacia Spring this time was only 9th, with just 3,275 units. However, it should start to climb the rankings in a few months as production ramps up in China.

Looking at the rest of the ranking, Peugeot impressed, with the French automaker placing 3 models in the top 20. Looking at the broader Stellantis lineup, there are 4 models in the table. On top of the 3 Peugeots, the Fiat 500e also managed to find a spot on the table, in #8, with the little Italian starting the year ahead in the city car category.

Outside the top 20, a few models deserve a mention, like the Mercedes EQA which had 2,225 registrations. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E had 2,288 registrations. The most surprising performances were the 2,270 units of SAIC’s MG eHS PHEV and the 2,022 units of the Porsche Taycan, which allowed it to beat the Audi e-tron (1,961 registrations) and become the best selling full size EV last month. With Volkswagen Group prioritising its most expensive models in the middle of the chip crisis and the Cross Turismo body now in full delivery, expect Porsche’s sports car to continue shining in the next few months.

Finally, a reference goes out to the production ramp-up of the compact Peugeot 308 PHEV, with the French model delivering a record 1,154 units last month. Expect it to become top 20 material in a few months.

In the manufacturer ranking, balance is also the word. BMW profited from its long lineup and started the year in the lead, with 9.7% share, followed closely by Mercedes (9.5%) and then a pack of competitors competing for bronze. Those automakers are currently led by Kia (7.2%), Peugeot (6.9%), Audi (6.8%), and Volvo (6.7%), with Volkswagen (6.2%) and Hyundai (6%) not that far off.

We will have to wait until March to see the real trends for this year, but it all seems to point to another close race in 2022.

As for OEMs, Volkswagen Group unsurprisingly started the year in front, but with only 20.3%. Runner-up Stellantis is at 16.4%, so the German conglomerate might not have it as easy this year as it did in previous years.

Hyundai–Kia (13.2%) started the year in a surprising 3rd position, up 3 spots compared to its 2021 standing, kicking BMW Group (12.4%) off the podium to 4th. Below those OEMs, Mercedes-Benz was 5th, scoring 10.7% market share, with a comfortable advantage over the #6 Renault–Nissan Alliance (8.7%) and Geely–Volvo (8.3%).

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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 466 posts and counting. See all posts by José Pontes