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France Over 20% Plugin Share In February, Tesla Model 3 Back On Top

France, Europe’s second largest auto market, saw plugin electric vehicles take 20.1% market share in February, up from 13.2% year on year. Diesel volume dropped by 39% year on year, to just over 20,000 units, taking a near record low of 17.6% share. Overall February auto volumes were 115,384, down 13% year on year, and down by around a third from pre-pandemic volumes.

February’s combined plugin result of 20.1% comprised 11.7% battery electrics (BEVs) and 8.4% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This represents a continuation of the shift in weighting towards BEVs, ongoing since mid 2021.

Diesel volume fell from 33,083 a year ago, to 20,258 last month, a fall of 38.8%. The resulting share was 17.6%, almost matching last December’s record low (17.4%).

France’s Favourite BEVs

We have the good fortune of an early data release of the top 10 most popular BEVs in February. With Tesla back to a strong delivery month, the Tesla Model 3 took the top spot once more:

Beyond the two Teslas (Model Y in sixth spot), the rest of the top 10 is now consistently compact (or small) and relatively affordable BEVs, reflecting the traditional preferences of the wider French auto market.

Note that the Renault Zoe and Dacia Spring are neck and neck in volumes over the past 6 months, with under 1% separating them over that period. Their trailing 3 month competition is visible here:

We can’t yet specify the trailing quarter’s 8 to 10 spots, because the Volkswagen ID.3 has been off-duty (and outside the top 10) for the past two months, and we thus don’t have clear info on its February numbers. The ID.3 is battling for 8th spot with both the Peugeot e-2008 and the Hyundai Kona, each around 1300 to 1400 units. Keep an eye out for Jose’s report, which will provide the official numbers, later this month.

Why is the ID.3 off duty? Volkswagen are having serious supply chain issues with chips, and since mid February, have reduced the array of ID.3 variants available to just one, the “Active” with 58 kWh usable battery and €44,680 list price (pre-incentives).

Not only have the most affordable ID.3 variants, those with the 45 kWh battery, been removed entirely from sale (along with the larger 77 kWh battery variants), but the previous €39,300 “Pro” entry variant for the mid-sized 58 kWh battery, has also been ditched.

So, given that the “Active” is now the only choice, there’s no longer any small battery variant, and an effective price hike of over €5,000 for the mid-sized battery variant. Not a great look for Volkswagen, especially considering the ID.3 was supposed to follow the tradition of the VW Beetle, and VW Golf, as an affordable, “for the people” vehicle.

Outlook

February saw the same seasonal uptick in plugin share, over the January lull, that we saw in 2021. If last year’s trend continues to hold this year, and Tesla makes a big March push, next month should see share climb to somewhere around the 23% to 24% range, but let’s wait and see.

The plugin share growth later in the year will depend on how quickly Tesla can get its Berlin factory cranking decent volumes of the Model Y. The sad fact is that, despite the legacy auto makers’ positive rhetoric around “moving to BEV,” Tesla is still the only auto maker pumping out a market-disrupting volume of BEVs.

Once both the Model 3 and Model Y are selling in huge volumes in the large European markets, the other auto makers will be forced to up their volume game to try to stay in the race. They still need to be dragged along, unfortunately.

Given the demand-supply gap for BEVs, and France’s preference for small and affordable vehicles, there’s a clear opportunity for the likes of BYD and MG to fill the gap, and join the Dacia Spring in disrupting the low end of the market.

From where we stand today, I would expect a monthly plugin share % in the mid 30s by the end of 2022. What do you think? Please jump in to the comments to share your ideas.

 

 
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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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