With the doom and gloom continuing on the overall European car market, down 21% last month and the lowest April in over 30 years (excluding the Covid-hit April 2020), the European passenger plugin vehicle market has also started to be affected. It dropped 1% last month, with approximately 159,000 plugin vehicles registered in April. Plugin hybrids (-14% YoY) were the ones to blame for sinking plugins into the red, while BEVs grew 15% in April.
Last month’s plugin vehicle share of the overall European auto market was 19% (10% full electrics/BEVs), keeping the 2022 plugin vehicle (PEV) share to 21% (12% for BEVs alone).
The highlight of the month is the first #1 and #2 win of Stellantis. The Fiat 500e won its first Best Seller title, 1,800 units ahead of the runner-up Peugeot e-208, while the Czech Skoda Enyaq completed the podium.
Looking closer at April’s plugin top 5:
#1 Fiat 500e — The little Italian won its first monthly Best Seller title, with a strong 5,593 deliveries in March. With wrinkles showing up on the competition (VW e-Up, Smart Fortwo EV, Renault Twingo EV) and the Dacia Spring appealing to a more cost-sensitive customer base, the little Fiat EV benefits from lack of serious competition, at least until the upcoming wave of Chinese city EVs reach European shores. That makes it the default EV choice in the cheap(ish) & chic city car category. With the Mini Cooper EV being a more premium proposal, Smart going upmarket in the next generation of city EVs in order to fight MINI, and the fossil-powered Fiat 500 ending its career next year, expect the Fiat EV to remain the reference to beat in the category. Last month, the main markets were Germany (1,827 units), France (1,737 units), and the UK (480), while the Fiat EV had a meh month in its native Italy (494 units).
#2 Peugeot e-208 EV — After a somewhat long absence, the French EV reappeared in the top 5 in April, with 3,775 registrations, allowing it to win silver and giving Stellantis its first gold + silver win in Europe. With the arch rival Renault Zoe looking tired by now, the stylish Peugeot is looking to become the new category reference. Will it be able to pull it off? Back to April’s performances, the Peugeot star player in the EV field had its best score in its native France (1,375 units), but it is also finding results in Germany (672 units), the UK (610), and the Netherlands (324).
#3 Skoda Enyaq — The Czech crossover was 3rd in April, with 3,721 registrations, beating expectations (and the rest of the Volkswagen Group models). Will the Skoda crossover remain among the best sellers during the next few months? It’s still too early to tell. With production constraints left and right (chip shortages, Ukraine supplier disruption, battery supply constraints …), the next few months will be challenging, but Skoda has been known for underpromising and overdelivering, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the Czech to become the Volkswagen Group’s best selling EV in Europe. Back to April’s performances, Skoda’s family-friendly crossover had its best score in Germany (1,030 units) and is also a success story in the Dutch market (869 units). The Skoda EV is also proving popular in Scandinavia. In Norway it got 485 registrations, and in Sweden 259.
#4 Kia Niro EV — The Korean
tall wagon crossover continues to be a sure value in the EV arena. It doesn’t really stand out on any item in particular, but it also doesn’t have weak points, which contributes to its continued success even when its successor is on the way. In April, it had 3,513 registrations, making it Hyundai–Kia’s best selling model last month. Regarding last month’s performance, the Niro EV’s main market was Sweden (670 registrations), followed by the UK (620 registrations), Germany (544), and France (516 units). That’s a pretty balanced distribution between the several markets.
#5 Dacia Spring — The little Sino-Romanian crossover reappeared in the top 5 last month, with 3,461 registrations, With Covid-related lockdowns in China disrupting local production, the next couple of months will be a cliffhanger for the Dacia EV. Will its deliveries dry up, or will it remain unscathed, collecting further top 5 presences? Back to April’s deliveries, the plain-Jane EV had its best score in France (1,568 registrations), followed by its native market — 506 registrations in Romania — while the all-important German market (499 registrations) also had significant volumes, just like in city car friendly Italy (372).
Looking at the rest of the April table, there was a close race in the PHEV category, with the #6 Ford Kuga PHEV closely winning the monthly title over a surprising #7 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV. The Japanese model not only beat its own record, but also provided Mitsubishi’s best result in Europe in over two years. The compact crossover is still far from the 8,000+ unit scores of the Outlander PHEV’s best moments, but the SUV successor is looking to bring Mitsubishi back from the brink, and the Japanese automaker really needs a success story if it wants to remain in Europe. The Eclipse Cross PHEV could be Mitsu’s last chance to stay here….
In the second half of the table, SAIC’s MG eHS crossover continued to shine, allowing it an 11th spot, while the Audi e-tron scored another top 20 presence.
Below the top 20, the big news is the landing of the Mercedes EQE. With 625 units, it is already outselling its bigger sibling Mercedes EQS (609 units). The German automaker is banking on its new, streamlined EV to remain the category leader after the EV transition. With the Audi e-tron currently running ahead of the squirrel with eyesight issues BMW iX, the EQE is looking to ramp up production during the remainder of the year, so that next year it will be able to beat the e-tron in Europe’s full size category. (The global title will be a whole other story, considering that the Chinese best sellers are already rolling at over 100,000 units per year….)
Elsewhere, a few more models deserve a mention. Highlighting a positive month for Stellantis, the multinational conglomerate placed 5 models from 4 different brands in the top 20. The Citroen e-C4 EV scored a record 1,992 registrations. We might see the French hatchback-disguised-as-crossover on the table soon. And the post-modern Lynk & Co 01 PHEV also posted a record month, with 2,137 deliveries, with the Chinese crossover looking to replicated the MG eHS’s success in Europe. Of course, it would help if the L&K model was present in a wider number of markets throughout Europe….
Looking at the 2022 ranking, the top positions remained the same. The two mass-market Teslas were stable in the leadership positions, while the Fiat 500e gained precious advantage in the race for best selling non-Tesla. We could see the little Italian end the year as the bronze medalist!
The first position change happened in #6, with the Ford Kuga PHEV overtaking the Peugeot 3008 PHEV in the leadership of the plugin hybrid category. The Ford model is well positioned to renew its 2021 PHEV title.
Elsewhere, the two climbers of the month were the Peugeot e-208 EV and Skoda Enyaq. Thanks to a strong April, each jumped 5 positions, with the French EV surging to 10th and the Czech to 11th.
Also worthy of reference is the Kia EV6 climbing one position, to #17, and expect the Korean EV to climb a few more positions in the coming months.
As another measure of the disruption happening right now, we can see that of the traditional category leaders in the overall market (A segment — Fiat 500; B segment — Renault Clio; C segment — VW Golf; D segment — BMW 3 Series; E segment — Mercedes E-Class), only the first seems sure to survive the EV transition as category leader. In the category immediately above, the Renault Clio’s EV sibling, the Zoe, looks tired now and unable to hold onto the category’s #1 position. Both the Hyundai Kona EV and the Peugeot e-208 look like safer bets for this year’s title. Renault has high hopes for the future Renault 5, set to land in 2024, but I am afraid the new retro-tastic EV will be too niche to win the category’s best seller title.
In the compact category, the VW ID.3, the spiritual successor of the VW Golf, is proving to be a flop, with the German EV now in #19. Expect this year’s title to go to the VW ID.4, a model that is said to have a strong second half of the year. In this case, the trophy should stay within the Volkswagen family, but in the hands of the ID.3’s crossover sibling, which is also a sign of the current times — more and more people prefer crossovers over regular hatchbacks.
In the midsize category, all hell broke loose. Not only is the Bimmer only 4th, behind both Teslas and the Hyundai Ioniq 5, but in the overall market, the Tesla Model 3 is outselling the BMW 3 Series, fossil-fueled units included! And with the Kia EV6 and Polestar 2 regularly outselling it, it wouldn’t be surprising if the BMW midsizer fell even further. With the BMW i4 failing to ramp up to significant levels, BMW will have a hard time recovering what was once its bread and butter market. Some would even say that BMW is f… — I mean, in trouble.
Finally, in the full size category, a lot hangs on the Mercedes EQE’s career. For now, the Audi e-tron holds the trophy, but the question remains as to how fast Mercedes will ramp up the EQE and how well the big Audi will resist the future attacks of the new Mercedes EV.
In the automaker ranking, with Tesla (8.4%) in off-peak mode, BMW (9.4%, up 0.3%) recovered the top spot. Mercedes (8.9%) followed suit, leaving Tesla in 3rd by the end of April.
In 4th we now have Kia (6.4%, up 0.4 percentage points), which surpassed Volvo, now in 5th, with 6% share.
With Peugeot, Volkswagen, and Audi having 5.8% each, the race for the 5th position will be quite interesting. This is a very balanced EV market, as proven by the fact that leader BMW has less than 10% share, and also by the fact that no brand managed to place more than two models in April’s top 20. Quite different from the Chinese EV market.
Arranging things by automotive group, Volkswagen Group is ahead, with 17.4% share, down 0.1 point. Stellantis, which outsold Volkswagen Group in April, is in second (15.3%, up 0.6 points). The runner-up conglomerate is gaining ground on the leader due to the invasion of Ukraine particularly hitting Volkswagen Group since it has been reliant on Ukrainian suppliers for harnesses. Stellantis had theirs coming mainly from Morocco. The next couple of months could see the distance between the two become even smaller.
The current bronze medalist, Hyundai–Kia (11.8%, up half a percentage point) gained some ground over #4 BMW Group (11.3%, up 0.2). In 5th, we now have Mercedes-Benz Group (10.1%), which benefited from Tesla’s “off month.”
With the USA being Tesla’s turf for years now, and BYD strengthening its grip on the Chinese market, the hypothetical 3rd giant OEM of the EV era, Volkswagen Group, is watching its hold on the European market weaken. In order to remain at the same level of the other two, the German conglomerate needs to recover in its home market (Europe). Will it be able to do so? Hmmm…
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