Tesla tops European car market for first time

November 24, 2021

Top 10 best selling automobiles in Europe, 26 September 2021 (Courtesy JATO)

According to JATO Dynamics, September was another significant month for Europe’s automotive industry, with new car registrations falling by 25%, the list of best selling cars topped by an electric vehicle for the first time and, also for the first time, a vehicle manufactured outside of Europe occupying that top spot.

In September, new car registrations fell to just 964,800 units, due to on-going component supply issues. Year-to-date, Europe’s twenty-six markets continued to outperform in comparison to 2020, although the gap has narrowed. By the end of the first half of the year, total registrations were 27% higher than over the same period of 2020. Results through September show that this gap has narrowed to just 7%.

“Dealers continue to face issues with the availability of new cars due to the chip shortage. As a result, unwilling to wait more than a year for a new car, many consumers have turned to the used car market,” stated Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics. “This year, the industry has responded well to the the pandemic, but it is now facing new supply chain challenges. The growing popularity of EVs is encouraging, but sales are not yet strong enough to offset the big declines seen across other segments.”

OEMs with a large offering of pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars are said to have been less impacted by the current crisis, as European consumers take advantage of incentives and subsidies available for these vehicles. Diesel vehicles, however, have been impacted by both the chip shortage and the growing severity of the climate crisis. In September, low-emission vehicles posted a monthly growth of 44%, to 221,500 units, while the registrations of diesels decreased by 51%, to 167,000 units.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 10.3 new diesel cars registered for every electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Today, that ratio has decreased to just 1.3.

“Shifts of this magnitude are rare, and a number of factors have contributed to the current state of play,” added Munoz. “In addition to incentives, OEMs have enhanced their offering with more models and better deals, and many are shifting their limited supply of semiconductors to the production of EVs, instead of ICE vehicles.”

The move to electric vehicles reached a milestone, with the Tesla Model 3 topping the European sales rankings in September, with 24,600 registered units (2.6% market share). The strong performance of the Model 3 is, in part, said to be explained by Tesla’s intensive end-of-quarter sales push. September has historically been a strong month for the US manufacturer’s registration results in Europe, on average accounting for 68% of its third quarter deliveries since 2018. Last month, registrations accounted for 74% of third quarter volume. Since its entry into the European market, the Model Y has also performed well, securing second position in the BEV ranking.

Due to the success of these two models, Tesla leads the BEV market with a share of 24%, ahead of the Volkswagen Group (22%), Stellantis (13%), and Hyundai-Kia (11%). Tesla also registered more new cars than established brands including Fiat, Nissan or Seat.

In September, 46.5% of the passenger cars registered in Europe were SUVs – reportedly the highest ever monthly market share for the segment. Despite the current crisis faced by OEMs, these vehicles continue to gain traction thanks to the arrival of EV and plug-in hybrid alternatives, such as Tesla’s Model Y.

Munoz commented, “If the trend continues, the roads of Europe could soon look similar to the US, where more than half of the new cars sold are SUVs.”

The SUV segment was led by the Volkswagen Group, Stellantis and Hyundai-Kia, and the big market share winners during the month were the Korean maker, Tesla and Volkswagen Group.

Once again, the Hyundai Tucson secured a place in the top 10 with an increase in volume of 40%. The BMW 3-Series saw a 24% increase, despite direct competition with the Model 3. The new Opel/Vauxhall Mokka continued its climb up the rankings to 22nd position with 9,700 registered units. In 28th, the Tesla Model Y outsold consumer favourites such as the Fiat Panda, Peugeot 3008 and Volkswagen ID.3.

The Kia Ceed, BMW 4-Series, DS 7 Crossback, Mazda MX-30, Volkswagen Arteon, and Porsche Taycan also posted strong monthly growth. Among the new entries, the Renault Arkana registered almost 7,000 units, becoming the third most registered Renault model, while the Citroen C4 and Skoda Enyaq became the second best-selling models for their respective brands.


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