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2016-07-04

Europe Electric Car Sales Report (May 2016)



The European EV market had more than 14,000 registrations in May, representing a 7% increase over May 2015, which was a slight decrease in growth, largely due to the upcoming financial subsidies in Germany. Nevertheless, the market is set to surpass the 200,000 units by year end, possibly even reaching 240,000 units.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
The Japanese SUV won once again, landing best-seller status in May, with 1,707 units of the Outlander PHEV sold, but year-over-year (YoY) sales were actually down by a third. With the runner-up ending just 50 units behind, the leadership is well open to a change of hands in the coming months. Although growing elsewhere, like Norway and Sweden, Mitsubishi still hasn’t found a way to replace the average 300/400 units per month it had last year in the Dutch market — it registered just 16 units there last month.

Renault Zoe
Continuing with its best sales streak since it launched back in 2012, last month saw its sales grow 35% YoY to 1,657 units, its best May ever. The little French hatchback is finally fulfilling expectations, with Renault actively selling the car (at last!). It is only a question of time until the Zoe reaches #1, in my opinion, especially considering that its second-largest market, Germany, where it was will have a welcome incentives-derived boost in the near future.

Nissan Leaf
With deliveries back at cruising speed, sales of the Japanese hatch were up 38% in May, to 1,362 units, not that far from the top two models. The Japanese hatch continues to sell in large quantities, especially in Norway and France, but the question is for how long, as longer-range BEVs (new BMW i3, 2017 Opel Ampera-e…) might steal away buyers from the most common EV in the world.

VW Passat GTE
Thanks to the Scandinavian markets (685 units sold there), Volkswagen’s midsize offering reached the 4th Position in May, with 1,035 units, the best score this year and its best place in the monthly ranking so far. With the right mix of space, practicality, low-carbon emissions, and power, the Passat GTE is destined for success as a company car for middle managers across Europe.

Mercedes C350e
The surprise of the month, this Mercedes midsize plug-in offering managed to climb into the top 5, with 780 units delivered, a year best. With stringent emission legislation spreading across Europe, many fleet buyers are trading in diesel-burners for their plug-in hybrid alternatives. In this case, with only 30 kms of electric range, the C350e has “compliance car” written all over it, but people are buying it.

YTD Ranking
Looking at the year-to-date (YTD) ranking, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is in the highest place of the ranking, but barely, with the Renault Zoe fewer than 20 units behind and the Nissan Leaf, in 3rd, only 128 units behind. It looks to be an entertaining race throughout the rest of the year. Although, if I had to bet, I would go with the Zoe winning the trophy….
While the sprint for the leadership is very much open to discussion, the apparent race for #4 will no longer exist in June, with Tesla presumably delivering a tsunami of Model S. Further growing the spread between the Model S and others in the vicinity, the VW Golf GTE is being affected (sales down 50% YoY in May) by its Passat GTE sibling success, and the German sporty hatch will have a hard time resisting the expected sales surge that the longer-range BMW i3 should have during the summer.
Talking about Volkswagen, this month was a mixed bag for the Wolfsburg automaker: In the PHEV front, the Passat GTE had a year-best performance and jumped two positions to #8, but on the other hand, the Golf GTE saw its sales dive by half. On the BEV front, the e-Golf had its worst performance (479 units) since 2014, dropping two positions to #10, with the e-Up! pulling its best performance (281 units) in a year, thanks to the recent restyle.
Looking at the brands ranking, the trophy bearer, Volkswagen (16%), has gained a little more advantage over Renault (14%, down 1% share), while in 3rd we have Nissan, with 13%, trying to keep #4 Mitsubishi (12%) and #5 BMW (12%) off the podium.