EVs Take 30.1% Share In France — Record Share For BEVs

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December saw plugin EVs take 30.1% share of the French auto market, an increase from 25.0% share, year on year. Full electric sales volume grew 1.5x YoY, while plugin hybrids grew 1.17x. December’s overall auto volume was 181,013 units, up 14.5% YoY, though still slightly below 2017-2019 norms (~190,000). France’s best selling full electric in December was the Tesla Model 3.

EVs take 30.1% share

 

December saw combined plugin EVs take 30.1% share, comprising a record 20.6% full battery electrics (BEVs), and 9.4% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare with YoY figures of 25.0%, with 15.8% BEV, and 9.2% PHEV.

The full year 2023 share was 26.0% combined plugins, with 16.8% BEV, and 9.2% PHEV. This compares with full year 2022 figures of 21.6%, with 13.3% BEV, and 8.3% PHEV.

We can see that, as is the trend in other large European markets, BEVs share is continuing to grow at a decent rate (even against recovering overall auto volumes), whereas PHEVs are mostly flat, at somewhere between 6% and 9% share (9.2% in France’s case, 7.5% in UK, 6.2% in Germany).

In terms of volumes, the overall French auto market saw 1,774,729 registrations in 2023, up 16.1% from 1,529,035 in 2022. BEVs saw 298,216 registrations, up a healthy 46.8% from 203,121 in 2022, the highest growth rate of any powertrain. PHEVs also outperformed the broader market, at 162,952, up 28.8% from 126,549 in 2022.

Combustion-only share continued to fall in 2023. Combined combustion-only volume was 813,325 units, barely moved from 807,911 in 2022, despite the overall market recovering 16.1%. This meant that share fell to 45.8%, from 52.8% in 2022. We can expect this trend to accelerate as more affordable BEVs become available.

EVs take 30.1% share

Best Selling BEVs

The Tesla Model 3 was December’s best selling BEV, with its sibling Model Y as a close runner up, and the MG4 in third position.

For the past two months, the Tesla Model 3 has outshone the long-term leader, the Model Y, in sales, something not seen in previous months of the year. Why is this?

The French policy change on tighter eligibility for the (typically €6,000) Eco-Bonus came into effect for orders placed after December 15th (and delivery cut off — March 15th). From this point on, models are judged on the CO2 of their manufacturing (and supply chain), and their transportation to France, not just on their “in-use” footprint. Made-in-France models, with its high share of nuclear energy, made the grade — not a coincidence — but others from further afield did not. Many models were affected, essentially those manufactured outside Europe (here’s the full list).

The most prominent affected models (in volume terms) are the Tesla Model 3, Dacia Spring, MG4, Kia Niro, and MG ZS. The Hyundai Kona is spared because units for European sale are made in Czechia.

The Tesla Model 3 has, understandably, been ramping sales ahead of the cutoff. Another model doing this has been the MG4, which saw 2.2x its typical volume in December, with 4,138 units.

MG France has already indicated that it will reduce prices by €4,000 for all BEVs to partly make up for the loss of the Eco-Bonus.

We will have to watch what happens to these out-in-the-cold models over the next few months. There may be some pre-December-15th orders still to be fulfilled before March 15th, but after that we should expect to see volume noticeably decline for these models. Unless they get rebalanced with manufacturer price cuts.

We don’t have enough December data from France to notice newly launching models, but will keep an eye out for news of these.

Let’s turn to the 3 month ranking:

Here, thanks to the past two months of volume push, the Tesla Model 3 has taken a rare lead over its sibling, with a total of 12,224 sales. The Dacia Spring, and MG4, are following not far behind the Model Y.

For context, in the previous period (Q3), the Tesla Model 3 was only ranked 7th, with volume of 2,481 units. Given the loss of the eco-bonus, we can expect the Model 3 to fall down in ranking, perhaps outside the top 10, by April at the latest (unless Tesla adjust pricing in France, which they might).

This may also be the one of the last times we see the Kia Niro in the top 10, given its loss of the Eco-bonus.

Here’s a look at the full year ranks:

We can see how dominant the Tesla Model Y has been in 2023, climbing to the pole position, from 8th position in 2022, thanks to a YoY volume increase of 3.1x, mostly from the Berlin Gigafactory.

Meanwhile, last year’s winner, the Peugeot e-208 has fallen back to 5th, even though its volume has improved YoY by over 18%.

The venerable Renault Zoe, the leader in France for most of the past decade, is now just barely clinging on to the top 10, down from 7th in 2022. It has had a great run, seeing 2 major upgrades in battery, power, and range over its lifetime, but will see its last production on March 30th 2024.

Personally, I hope that the Zoe nameplate and jellybean hatchback shape will make a comeback in the future, once Renault’s upcoming “AmpR Small” platform (used in e.g. the Renault 5 BEV) gets established.

Outlook

The volume recovery of the auto market outshone the broader French economy. GDP growth YoY was modest across Q1, Q2, and Q3 (latest figures), seeing 0.9%, 1.2%, and 0.6%, respectively. This was lacklustre, though better than many European neighbours, particularly Germany. Headline inflation went in the wrong direction, increasing to 3.7% in November (latest) from 3.5% in October. Interest rates remained flat, at 4.5% in December. Manufacturing PMI decreased to 42.1 points in December, from 42.9 points in November.

The BEV market will see some upheaval over the coming months, as models which together contributed around a third of 2023’s BEV volume see their access to the Eco-Bonus removed. We will have to wait and see what happens as a result. In the long term, the trend towards increased BEV share of the market is inevitable, but the rate of the change in France, over the near term, is hard to predict.

What are your thoughts on France’s transition to EVs? Please jump in to the discussion in the comments section below.

 


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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. 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.

Dr. Maximilian Holland has 410 posts and counting. See all posts by Dr. Maximilian Holland