France, Europe’s second largest car market, saw plug-in electric vehicles take 21.4% market share in March 2022, compared to 16.1% year-on-year. All-electric took 13.5%, their 2nd highest result (after December 2021). The overall volume of the automotive market decreased by around 35% compared to March 2019 before the pandemic, to 147,077 units.
The combined March plug-in result of 21.4% included 13.5% full battery electric (BEV) and 7.9% plug-in hybrid (PHEV). This continues a recent reweighting in favor of BEVs. The BEV share of 13.5% represents a relative growth of 59% compared to March 2021 (8.5% BEV). ORVs only improved by 4% (0.3% absolute share growth) over the same period.
Diesel’s share was the lowest in the modern era, at just 14.3% (vs. 23.3% year-on-year). By June, we’ll see BEVs overtake diesel and then widen the gap. Gasoline held up better, at 39.1% versus 42.6% year-on-year. However, once diesels are gone, gasoline will be at the forefront of suffering greater losses.
The favorite BEVs of the French
In March, Tesla made its usual shipping push at the end of the quarter, with the Tesla Model 3 taking the top spot with 3,882 units. The small Dacia Spring took second place (2,111) and the Peugeot e-208 third (1,842).
There were no other big surprises in the top 10, except that the Citroën E-C4 joined the charts for the first time. The E-C4 significantly increased its March volume, with 540 units, compared to its previous peak of 349 units (in November) and its recent monthly averages of around 280 units. Let’s see if the E-C4 can now consistently feature in the top 10.
Looking then at the totals for the last 3 months, the top three positions are the same as the monthly result, with the Tesla Model 3 again in the lead.
I don’t have any clear March data for the Peugeot e-2008 yet, so there’s a slight uncertainty as to whether it just missed out on the top 10 spots in the last 3 months, or if it actually has challenged its close rivals, the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro.
Above that peloton, the Tesla Model Y was solid in 7th place.
Once the plentiful European-made supply becomes available (by the end of the year), will the sales volume of the Tesla Model Y increase enough to break into the top 6? Positions 3 to 6 are small and affordable vehicles, long the most popular category in the French car market.
The Model 3 starts from €50,000, while the Model Y (currently only available in long-range variants) starts from €63,000, a big step up. I would expect that the Y model would have to be offered in the entry variant before it could climb to the middle of the board (or higher).
Meanwhile, the Dacia Spring (among others), with long waiting lists, could sell in even higher volumes if the production volume is increased. For this brand and other affordable BEV brands, it is obviously the volume of production that is the limiting factor, not the demand.
As I explained in my recent report on Sweden, industrial manufacturing in Europe faces many disruptions, both in supply chains, in energy prices and in general inflation, as well as consumer purchasing power. It remains to be seen to what extent the French automakers, so dominant in the French BEV market, will be affected by these forces. It is also unknown whether plug-in vehicles will be impacted to a different degree than other powertrains.
On the demand side, with rising fuel costs, there will certainly be higher-than-ever relative demand for BEVs and PHEVs, and less for combustion-only vehicles.
Assuming that the impact of the disruptions falls fairly evenly across the production of all cars, we can assume that the share of plugins in the new car market will rise sharply in the coming months due to increased demand, even if the actual volumes do not increase particularly strongly. Burn-only volumes will continue to decline.
It’s too early to be able to put hard numbers on that, but I would expect the plugins combined to exceed 30% market share in December, perhaps by a long shot.
How do you see the French automotive market in 2022? Please join the discussion below.
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