With the overall auto market now in recovery mode (+9% YoY) — yet still 17% below January 2020, the last normal month — the French plugin passenger car market hit the accelerator. This was all thanks to pure electrics (BEVs) jumping 43%, to 14,649 registrations, or 13% share. Surprisingly, despite losing access to subsidies on January 1, plugin hybrids (PHEVs) were also up — in this case, a more moderate rate of 30% YoY, to 10,301 units or 9.2% share.
Pure electrics had 59% of plugin sales, a small improvement over the 56% rate they had 12 months ago. While the trend isn’t as significant as elsewhere, like in Germany, it seems the French market is going in the right direction, once again preferring BEVs over plugin hybrids.
Looking at overall market sales by fuel type, the demise of diesel is visible to the naked eye. It dropped 33% YoY — to just 11% share, less than what BEVs had in the same period (13%)! That’s a significant drop from the 18% share of January 2022, and a long distance from the 25% of January 2021. At this pace, full diesel cars will be dead in the French new car market by early 2025! That’s just two years from now. So, this is what disruption looks like….
Plugless hybrids grew 13% YoY last month, to 23% share, which added to the 13% of BEVs (10% a year ago) and the 9% of PHEVs (8% a year ago) to result in 45% of the overall French auto market having some form of electrification in January. Not bad, eh? Will we see electrified vehicle market share become the majority of sales by the end of this year?
2022 plugin vehicle (PEV) market share started at 22% (13% BEV), which is a small jump from the 18% share of 12 months ago. This all points to the idea that we will see the French market go north of the 25% mark this year, and maybe even reach 30% by the end of this year. We’ll see!
Looking at January’s best sellers, the little Dacia Spring started the race in number one, ending the month in #13 on the overall market with 1,911 registrations. Will the small, no-frills crossover finally get its Best Seller crown in 2023? It was runner-up in 2022….
The Fiat 500e was the runner-up, with 1,598 registrations, its best result since June, while the Renault Megane EV also started the year on a strong note, with 1,506 registrations. Last year’s winner, the Peugeot e-208, had a slow start, ending January in 4th with 1,336 units. With the stylish hatchback readying to receive a new powertrain, with improved specs, expect the little lion to return to the podium soon.
The biggest surprise this month was the MG 4 jumping to the 5th spot, with 686 registrations. Highlighting a strong month from SAIC’s European arm, the MG eHS PHEV also joined the table in January, rising to 10th with 543 registrations. That’s the SUV’s best result since last April, while two other models from the storied British make also scored significant volumes — the Marvel R SUV reached 250 units and the MG 5 station wagon got 138 deliveries.
In the PHEV category, if January’s best seller title going to the Peugeot 3008 PHEV is not particularly worthy of notice, the fact that two models in this category reached record results in January, usually one of the slowest months of the year, is worth a mention. The #9 DS 4 PHEV reached a record 549 registrations, with the French premium-class hatchback being just one of four Stellantis models in the PHEV top 5. It seems that because the BEV lineup is transitioning into the new electric powertrain, the multinational conglomerate ramped up production of its PHEV lineup to compensate for the drop on the BEV side.
But January’s records weren’t only from Stellantis, as Toyota(!) also had a model hitting record highs. The RAV4 PHEV scored a record 350 registrations, allowing the SUV to join the table for the first time, in #19. Plugin hybrids are such low-hanging fruit for the Japanese carmaker that one wonders why Toyota didn’t ramp up production of its plugin hybrid lineup years ago. Well, I guess it is better late than never, right? #babysteps
Outside the top 20, the Lynk & Co 01 PHEV was close to joining the tale, ending the month with 283 registrations and coming close to becoming the 5th Made-in-China model on the table. After taking the lead in the Netherlands, the Chinese SUV is also starting to gain traction in France. Will Geely’s post-modern brand gain a foothold across Europe? It is starting to look that way, but to be future proof, the Chinese brand will need to become a BEV-based company.
Elsewhere, the Stellantis stable saw two new models starting to deliver significant volumes. The Peugeot 408 PHEV reached a record 274 units. The attractive crossover coupe, one of the best looking in Europe, is aiming for a top 20 position soon, especially if the BEV version lands sooner than later. (Side note: the Sochaux brand has been on a streak of home run designs lately.)
The other Stellantis on the rise was the
weird radical and innovative Citroen e-C4X, which got 115 registrations. The crossover-sedan-coupe, if there is such a thing, is looking to break the mould in a true Citroen way — by offering something that no one, not even the most creative Chinese brands, had thought of before. Will it succeed? Only time will tell, but Citroen at least deserves kudos for trying something different. For now, it was close to beating the brand’s best selling BEV, the e-C4 crossover-hatchback, which scored 154 registrations. One thing is certain: if European brands as whole want to retain relevance in a BEV-based future, the innovative and off-beat spirit of Citroen will surely be a welcome addition to the group.
Despite being in a transitioning process with its BEV lineup, Peugeot (12.8%) was the leader in January, keeping Renault (11.7%) a safe distance behind it.
In 3rd place, and far from the two French arch rivals, we have Dacia, with 7.7% share. That’s thanks to the success of its Spring EV. It was followed by MG (6.5%), in a surprising 4th spot.
Fiat closed out the top 5 with 6.4% share, while #6 DS (5.2%) is looking for an opening to jump in there.
While the first two places already seem taken, expect an entertaining race for the 3rd spot. There are several candidates, including MG, that are experiencing a strong rise in France and elsewhere in Europe (turns out, good value for money also sell cars…). And, of course, there’s the elephant in the room, Tesla, which will surely profit from a peak in March to position itself as a strong candidate for the bronze medal. (The strongest candidate?)
In the OEM race, thanks to a strong start, the mutinational conglomerate Stellantis has begun the year with a commanding 32.3% market share. It is followed at a deep distance by the Renault–Nissan Alliance (20.3%), mostly thanks to the Renault Megane EV and Dacia Spring. This is one of the problems of the Alliance — while the top players can go head to head with top Stellantis models, the ones on the bench are … a bit meh! Proof of that is the fact that while the Alliance has four representatives on the table, Stellantis has … eight.
In the last place on the podium, there is a close race between Hyundai–Kia, with 8.5%, and #4 Volkswagen Group (8.4% share). Both are comfortably ahead of #5 BMW Group (7%), which is looking to keep its standing from the rising SAIC (owner of MG), which currently owns 6.5% of the plugin market.
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Source: Clean Technica