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France December 2020

Created: 2021-01-19 11:48 | Last change: 2021-01-19 12:02

A future star lands in a record market (19% share!)

The overall French automotive market had a horrible 2020. Sales were down 26% year over year (YoY), and the year’s 1.7 million total was the lowest annual result since 1975. At the same time, though, plugin vehicles were steaming hot. In December, sales jumped fourfold compared to the same month of 2019.

Plugin hybrids (PHEVs) were up fivefold, to 15,168 registrations, growing faster than full-electrics (BEVs), which reached 20,734 registrations. That meant that BEVs had 58% plugin vehicle market share in December and PHEVs had 42% share — a good result for PHEVs in this traditionally BEV-friendly market, and above the 40% share they ended 2020 with.

The overall plugin vehicle market delivered disruptive numbers in December, reaching a record 19% (11% BEV) automotive market share, pulling the final 2020 share to 11% (6.7% BEV). That is leaps and bounds above the 3% of 2019.

Interestingly, the current market disruption is also benefiting conventional hybrids (HEVs), as they doubled their share this year from 5% to 10% share. So, 2020 ended with 21% of total sales coming from electrified models, up from 8% in the previous year, an amazing progression. Petrol lost 11% share in the last 12 months, from its 58% market share of 2019 to its 47% share of 2020, while diesel dropped just 3 percentage points to its current 31%.

With the 2020 plugin share firm in the two-digit region, expect this market to be disrupted further next year. Let’s say … 20% by the end of 2021?

France December 2020

Looking at last month’s best sellers, while the winner was the usual Renault Zoe, below it, there was a surprise, with the Peugeot models taking the month off, as the French brand had already complied with the EU’s 2020 CO2 rules. As a result, the 208 EV runner-up spot was up for grabs, and the model taking it was the Volkswagen ID.3, which scored a surprising 2,550 registrations. Now, how many of those were self-registrations in order to comply with European CO2 rules is anyone’s guess, but looking through that angle, the same can be said about a lot of last month’s record performances.

But the most surprising performance in December belonged to the small Dacia Spring EV, which landed with 1,721 sales, a new record for a landing month. Another interesting dimension to this entrance is that deliveries in these first months are destined to demonstration units and fleets, with regular deliveries to private buyers only expected to begin in Q3 2021.

With the small Dacia said to have an unbeatable price, the Chinese-built EV could become a big success story in Europe (and Latin America? India? Africa?) as it breaks new ground price-wise. It is expected to be more than 5,000€ cheaper than the current cheapest EV sold in Europe. …

Speaking of city EVs, it seems this category is the new hot stuff in France, with 3 representatives in the December top 6. Aside from the Dacia Spring EV winning the bronze medal, the fresh Fiat 500e was 4th, with 1,545 units in only its 2nd month on the market, and the also young Renault Twingo was 6th, with 1,353 units, a new record for the tiny French EV. And let’s not forget the veteran Volkswagen e-Up, which scored a record performance in December — 525 deliveries.

France YTD 2020

On the PHEV side, the market is less concentrated. So, in this category, there’s only one model with a 4-digit score, with the Renault Captur PHEV registering 1,437 units. Nevertheless, there was plenty to talk about:

  • Mercedes continued to push its PHEV models, in particular the SUVs, with all 3 of them hitting record scores (GLA — 596 units; GLC — 712; GLE — 490). The automaker was racing these PHEVs to the finish line until the last day of the year to comply with the 2020 CO2 rules.
  • It was essentially the same story with three-pointed-star arch-rival BMW, with the Bavarian automaker reaching record results with its SUVs (X1 PHEV — 405 units; X3 PHEV — 660; X5 PHEV — 482).
  • BMW’s British affiliate Mini did the same with its Countryman PHEV crossover, which registered a record 414 deliveries. Now, how much of this is actual demand and how much is CO2 compliance? Hmmm. … 

At the bottom of this top 20, a reference goes out to the record 511 deliveries of the SEAT Leon PHEV, with the spicy Spaniard beating its more corporate-minded cousin, the Volkswagen Golf PHEV, which ended in #21 with 501 units — which is nevertheless a new record for the German model.

Outside this top 20, a reference is due to the record 318 registrations of the hatchback-disguised-as-a-crossover Kia Xceed PHEV. It seems this crossover between a crossover and a hatchback (a CCUV — Crossover Crossover Utility Vehicle?!?) has struck a chord among French PHEV buyers.