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France dominated Europe's opening electric car sales month this year

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

Manufacturers, accused of limiting electric vehicle supply over the closing part of last year can now begin releasing these vehicles in a similar fashion to a child's wind-up toy. Having wound it up, and stored what manufacturers now hope is a backlog of enthusiasm and demand for electric vehicles – this can finally be unleashed onto the market. The only question remains is: how much energy is really there? The first market and manufacturers to demonstrate this came from France.


Home to Renault and PSA – both recording just under half of their West European total car volumes here – the French market will undoubtably witness a large boost in 2020 BEV registrations, thanks to domestic manufacturers dependence on their home market. French manufacturers account for over half of their home market's total volume (including Dacia but not Opel). In January 8.2 per cent of the overall French market's sales mix were BEV vehicles according to CCFA data.

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Renault confirm Zoe volumes' held back in 2019 to boost 2020 CAFE

According to Groupe Renault's acting CEO, Clotilde Delbos, this can partially be explained by an intentional reduced 2019 supply, now being delivered in 2020 to help meet CAFE targets. Ignoring this however; if an 8.2 per cent BEV mix could theoretically be maintained throughout 2020, France’s BEV market would balloon to 180,000 (2019: 43,000) – based on 2019 total French passenger car volumes – although the total market is likely to fall slightly this year as OEMs attempt to reign in unprofitable volume sales and concentrate on more profitable sales to offset lower margin EVs. Delbos went on to say that Zoe levels were unlikely to be maintained at those impressive January levels (5,331), accounted for just under half of France’s BEV volumes (10,952). This resulted in the recently refreshed and half-decade old model, accounting for more than every fifth Renault model registered in France during January, contributing to it becoming Western Europe's most registered model in January – just falling short of achieving 10,000 units (tab. 2001/5 in full report). PSA made a clear CO2 CAFE impression in January

Renault confirmed the all-electric Twingo would join the market this year, as well as a Dacia badged entry-level BEV next year, yet the main French growth locomotive is likely to come from PSA this year. PSA's BEV offensive is only just beginning, with 208-e, among others, making their intentions clear in January – recording 5,865 BEV units (plus 4,890 PHEVs) across the region according to Avere/CCFA/AAA data, resulting in PSA surpassing its full-year 2019 BEV regional volume (5,034) in January alone already. All of this had a significant impact on French CO2 emission averages, seeing the entire market sink by 16.9g/km over previous month December. A large fall thanks to the BEV push in January, was made even larger thanks to December witnessing the final month before a large Malus increase for higher emitting vehicles. The December push consequently inflated CO2 emissions (fig. 2001/7 in full report). The Malus system is set to see another change from March, changing to CO2 values being based on the WLTP cycle from NEDC.

This French catalyst boosted the entire West European region, subsequently achieving 38,164 new BEV passenger cars registrations during January, according to compiled data – resulting in the second-highest monthly BEV market penetration (3.7%) on record. This achievement was all the more impressive considering it wasn’t an end of quarter Tesla boosted month. This level of penetration is likely to increase as more models come to market as the year progresses and the end of quarter Tesla boosts' are factored in.

UK boost just around the corner – could see >20,000 monthly BEV deliveries as early as March

UK volumes, thanks to a significant plug-in beneficial beneft-in-kind fiscal change from April, 6, are expected to see zero-emission vehicles drop into the zero per cent benefit-in-kind tax category (currently 16 per cent) from April, which is likely to boost the region immensely (70,000 2020 forecast from 37,800 in 2019). During January – marking its final month as an EU member – the market recorded 4,054 pure electric BEV registrations or 2.7 per cent mix of total volumes, resulting in a third consecutive month where BEV volumes have remained above 4,000 monthly units. Additionally with Tesla expected to prioritise this right-hand-drive market during the opening half of the year – this report understands having spoked to representatives from the company – UK BEV total volumes could well surpass 20,000 units in March, in a month that is traditionally high due to the registration plate changeover. Up until now the UK’s largest monthly BEV volume on record was 7,704 witnessed during September 2019 (registration changeover month and genuine beginning of UK Tesla Model 3 deliveries). This is just an extract from the latest January report that can be ordered here


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