Open the Gates! (23% share!)
While the overall automotive market is still in red (-4% YoY), in December, Europe's passenger plugin market had an historic month, having registered a record 281,000 registrations (+264% YoY!), adding an amazing 115,000 units to the previous record, set in the previous month.
This impressive result shooted December's plugin share to 23% share (14% BEV), helping the 2020 numbers to rise 142% over those of the previous year, to well over 1 million units, and pulling the market into the...Disruption Zone, as the 2020 PEV share ended at 11% share (6.2% for BEVs alone), a significant departure from the 3.6% of 2019 (2.2% BEVs), so we can say with some certainty that part of the fall on the overall market has more to do with the disruption provoked by plugins than Covid-related issues. And so, let the games begin...
...Expect 2021 to continue the disruptive trend, so i expect
15%-plus 20% market share by the end of the year.
In December, BEVs ran fast (168.912 units, +223% YoY), but PHEVs are were even faster (+347%, 112,260 units), so in the final 2020 numbers, while plugin hybrids ended below (46% vs 54% share) fully electrics, they recovered a massive 10% share regarding the previous year.
Last month Best Seller was the VW ID.3, that did a Tesla-like peak in December and has beaten the Tesla Model 3 on a high tide month, the first time any model achieves such a feat.
Last month podium welcomes the fresh Renault Captur PHEV, with Renault placing for the first time two models in the Top 5, while also being the first time that the French brand wins the monthly PHEV Best Seller title. Something to repeat in 2021?...
Looking at December Top 5 Models:
#1 Volkswagen ID.3 - The much antecipated German EV was finally delivered in large volumes, by delivering a massive 28,108 units, which might look that the VW hatchback has finally grown into filling its big shoes, but one wonders how many of these registrations actual deliveries and how many were just self-registrations, on order to avoid the EU's CO2 emission fines...Moving on, the first MEB-platform based EV had its main markets in Germany (7,144 units), the Netherlands (6,083), and the UK (3,200), with Norway (2,303), France (2,550) and Sweden (2,564) also posting four digit scores. Expect VW's new baby to become a familiar face in the medal positions, running with the Tesla Model 3 and Renault Zoe for the monthly Best Seller title. Unless, of course, the new VW ID.4 starts to cast its shadow over its lower riding sibling...
#2 Tesla Model 3 - The 2019 Best Selling EV in Europe delivered a record 24,664 units, which in normal times would grant it the Best Seller honour. But in the current disruption period, anything can happen...The sports sedan main markets in December were the UK (5,700 deliveries), Norway (4,232), and Germany (3,293 units), with Switzerland (1,560) and Denmark (1,460) also scoring four digit scores. Expect the Model 3 to continue running for #1 throughout 2021. Unless, of course, the new Tesla Model Y starts to cast its shadow over its lower riding sibling...(Haven't i written this somewhere?)
#3 Renault Zoe – Despite ending only in 3rd, December was another great month for the French EV, with the 16,322 deliveries of the Renault model representing a record score, with the maker profiting from a mature manufacturing capability that allows it to respond almost immediately to demand peaks, thus avoiding those pesky waiting lists, so common in many other OEMs. Last month, the main markets were France (5,978 units) and Germany (5,349), with Italy (1,153 units) a distant 3rd. Expect the Zoe to continue running for the leadership during 2021, unless, of course, the new Renault Captur PHEV starts to cast its shadow over its lower riding sibling...(I am sure i had already written something like this before...)
#4 Hyundai Kona EV – Speaking about the Rise of the Crossovers, in December we had Hyundai's star EV shooting to its first five-digit score, with the small Crossover hitting a record 11,340 deliveries last month. Is this peak Kona EV? With the upcoming Ioniq 5 (not so) compact crossover said to be a small revolution in the EV World, one wonders if the Kona EV won't suffer from the new internal competition. Unless Hyundai lowers its price...But enough of futurology, and back to last month performance, the Netherlands was the best market for the Hyundai nameplate, with a record 4,441 deliveries, followed by Germany (2,995 units), with Spain (578) being a distant 3rd.
#5 Renault Captur PHEV – Thanks to competitive pricing, at some 32,000€, it's one of the cheapest PHEVs in Europe, and an attractive design, the small Crossover from Renault has won its first Best Seller trophy in the PHEV field in December, with 6,135 units, with the French model proving to be a massive hit in Italy (2,120 units!), beating even its native France (1,437 units), while the 3rd largest market, at some distance, was Germany, with 806 deliveries. Now, this performance raises a few questions for the future: Will the small Crossover be able to win the 2021 Best Seller title in the PHEV category? Will it be able to replicate the success of the Zoe in Germany? Will it start to eat into the Zoe territory? After all we are living in the Crossover Craze era...
Looking at the remaining December Best Sellers, the Nissan Leaf was #7, with the 5,424 registrations of last month representing the hatchback best performance in 33 months(!), confirming that the current EV Force is so strong that even an old Jedi like the Leaf can pull some tricks from its sword.
In such an outstanding month, 17 models out of this Top 20 hit personal records, like the Audi e-Tron (5,296 units), VW e-Up (3,751) or even the Jaguar i-Pace, that surprised many by scoring a record 4,635 registrations (or were they self-registrations? Mmmm...) last month.
We also have two important freshmans showing up on the table, with the Fiat 500e jumping to #10 and the VW ID.4 coming literally out of nowhere into #11, expect these two EVs to become familiar faces here, with the Italian set to win the City Car category in 2021, while the German will do its best to beat the Tesla Model Y in the SUV category.
In the PHEV category, the Mercedes A250e couldn't resist the Renault Captur PHEV peak in December, but these two will have plenty of opportunities during 2021 to run against each other, as no one else seems to be able to run at the same pace of these two. Or is it?...
With the #13 SEAT Leon PHEV (4,353 units) and #14 VW Golf PHEV (4,245) in ramp up mode, and their Czech cousin Skoda Octavia PHEV also starting its production ramp up, not forgetting the BMW X1 PHEV (record 3,788 units), the PHEV title will have plenty of candidates playing in the biggest pool of the European market, the compact category, so the days where the Mitsubishi Outlander owned the PHEV category are now long gone, and all the better for that, the more choices there are on the market, the easier it gets for consumers to make the switch.
And having said that about PHEVs, the same goes for fully electric vehicles!
A final reference to the #19 Volvo XC40 PHEV, that was one of the few models not to score a record result in December, and the main reason for that is internal competition, as its XC40 EV twin is now fully in ramp up mode (3,269 units), and it seems to be draining its sales...
Outside the Top 20, a reference to the 3,246 registrations of the Renault Twingo EV, although one wonders how will the small Renault react to the arrival of its significantly cheaper Romanian cousin, the Dacia Spring, in a few months. The Mazda MX-30 also scored a record 3,238 units, although this is another case where we can imagine many of these registrations were made for compliance purposes.
Looking at the 2020 ranking, the Renault Zoe secured its 3rd Best Seller title, after the 2016 and '17 trophies, the French hatchback managed to beat last year winner, the Tesla Model 3, thanks to a deep refresh done in late 2019, that allowed it to more than double its sales in 2020, touching the 100,000 units in one year.
The runner-up Tesla Model 3 saw its deliveries dip 8% regarding 2019, from 95,000 units to the current 87,000, and this in a year of disruptive growth, which could raise the question: Is the Tesla Model Y shadow already making itself felt?
The last place of the podium went to the VW ID.3 rise, that jumped 3 spots in the last stage of the race, allowing the German EV to win its first medal, surely the first of many.
A reference also to the Nissan Leaf, that jumped to #7, which was still insufficient to reach the 4th spot it had in 2019.
On the PHEV League, after years and years of domination, it was the Best Seller since 2012, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was finally beaten!
Thanks to a year end peak, the Mercedes A250e managed to surpass the Japanese SUV and the Volvo XC40 PHEV, allowing the Mercedes compact model to win the category 2020 race, while earning the #10 position in the plugin table. For reference, in 2019, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ended in #3, only behind the Renault Zoe and Tesla Model 3, so we now have a completely BEV Top 9!
Looking at the remaining position changes, the Volvo XC60 PHEV and BMW i3 were up one position, to #15 and #16 respectively, while the Mercedes GLC300e/de joined the table in December, ending the year in #19.
In the brands ranking, Volkswagen (12% share, up 1%) won the makers title, with the German brand jumping from 5th in 2019 to the leadership! Not Bad for a Year Zero...
The Silver Medal changed hands in the last stage of the race, with Mercedes (9%) beating Renault (also 9%) by just 5,000 units, this is the Three-pointed-star manufacturer first podium position, while Renault repeated the 2019 Bronze medal.
Outside the podium, BMW (8%) managed to beat Tesla and Volvo (both with 7% share), in the race for the 4th position.
Interestingly, if Volkswagen and Mercedes joined the podium, BMW was down from 2nd in 2019 to 4th, while the 2019 Best Seller Tesla was down to #5, with its share dropping from 20% in 2019, to the current 7%.
BEV D-Segment / Midsize category
Tesla's midsize sedan sales ended in another galaxy, although it has seen its sales drop by 8%.
In fact, Tesla's midsizer won't have significant competition in the near future, at least until its Model Y sibling lands, as the Polestar 2 (record 3,188 units last month) seems too niche for the moment, and with expansion plans only set to be enabled by mid-2021, don't expect much more from the Sino-Swede in 2021.
The upcoming Ford Mustang Mach-E production levels are still a question mark, and as for the BMW iX3, i believe the Bavarian maker will already be happy if it comes close to the the Mercedes EQC...Which, by the way, has beaten once again its personal best, having delivered 2,979 units last month, so it seems the Mercedes midsize SUV slooow ramp up still hasn't ended, and should continue in the following months.
As for the remaining podium, the Jaguar i-Pace profited from the new, cheaper, EV320 version, to suddenly jump its registrations to 4,635 units, the Sports SUV best score ever. Now, how much of these were self-registrations?...
BEV E-Segment / Full size category
The e-Tron domination is unquestionable and continues to grow, with the Big Audi scoring 5,296 units last month, with its sales growing 26% YoY, considering the already significant sales volumes of the Belgian-made Audi, one wonders for how long will the growth rates will be sustained, and when will the peak e-Tron moment arrive...With Audi already discounting its big EV, expect this moment to come soon.
With the #2 Porsche Taycan (2,209 units last month, a new record) accelerating its sales once again, the main interest layed on the 3rd spot, where the luxury van with windows Mercedes EQV (1,367 units) has managed to beat both flagship Teslas in December.
Still, in the whole of 2020, the Tesla Model X was 3rd, with 6,253 units, but in 2021 there will be several models landing (Audi e-Tron GT, Mercedes EQS, BMW iNext...), that have potential to beat the Porsche Taycan saleswise, making the 2021 race all the more interesting to follow, but should also render the Big Teslas even more irrelevant. Something needs to be done...