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Europe Q1 2018: Germany now #1 volume market for electrified cars but…

Is Germany the new kingdom of electrified vehicles? Not quite, and by a large margin.

* See the Sales by Fuel Type for 26 European markets by clicking on the title *

In the past few days an article has been doing the rounds in the professional automotive press proclaiming Germany overtook Norway as Europe’s top market for electrified cars. Although correct in terms of volume, nowhere in the articles are market shares mentioned. Given Germany is by far the #1 market in Europe volume-wise, it’s only natural that it also becomes the #1 market for electrified cars. We thought this headline was misleading so we got to work and pulled out the actual market shares for green cars in the main European markets – 26 to be exact. Here is the verdict for Q1 2018:

BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles):

The best-seller in this category is the Renault Zoe (8.128) above the Nissan Leaf (8.069) – please refer to our latest Europe March 2018 update for more details on best-selling green models. A total of 43.585 BEVs were sold in Europe over the First Quarter of 2018, a 35% year-on-year gain but representing only 1% market share. A year ago France was the #1 volume market in this segment, but it is now Norway thanks to sales soaring 38.6% to 9.694. This represents a whopping 28.7% share of the Norwegian market vs. 18.3% a year ago. And this is where we need to pay attention: although Germany did leap up 80.2% year-on-year to 9.127 units at #2, this only amounts to a meagre 1% market share, in line with the European average. France (-1.1%) places third with 7.322 sales but only 1.3% share while the Netherlands does a little better at 2.9% share thanks to deliveries up 136.7% to a still modest 3.945. The UK vastly underperforms with a 0.5% share thanks to just 3.895 sales (-16.3%). No other market sports a BEV share above 2%, with Austria and Switzerland the next best performers at 1.8% each. In the naughty corner: Greece (0.1%), Poland (0.1%), Italy (0.2%), Czech Republic (0.2%), Slovakia (0.2%) and Spain (0.3%).

The Renault Zoe is the best-selling Battery Electric Vehicle in Europe so far in 2018.

PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles):

The most popular nameplate in this segment is the Mitsubishi Outlander (4.524) followed by the VW Passat (3.635). 44.744 PHEVs found a new home in the 26 European markets covered over the First Quarter of 2018, up 46.4% on the same period in 2017 but here again the market share reached remains minimal at 1.1%. Volume-wise, this segment is dominated by the UK with sales up 25.9% year-on-year to 10.267, but this represents a market share only slightly above the European average at 1.4%. Germany is catching up at +60.5% to 8.447 but once again only 1% market share, actually below average for Europe. In third place volume-wise with 6.488 units (-0.1%), Norway however posts the largest PHEV market share of any country in Europe at 19.2%. That’s more than 3 times the level of 2nd-placed and fellow Scandinavian nation Sweden at 5.7% thanks to 4.960 sales (+79.6%). In third position PHEV share-wise we find Finland with deliveries up 175% to 1.309 for a 3.8% share. Lowest shares are scored by Poland (0.1%), Bulgaria (0.1%), Czech Republic (0.1%), Italy (0.2%), Greece (0.2%) and Spain (0.3%).

Electrified Vehicles (BEV+PHEV):

Adding the two above segments we have what is called “Electrified Vehicles”, which is what the article we linked to at the top of this report is referring to. At this little game the Zoe (8.128) and Leaf (8.069) remain on top but the VW Golf comes up third at 7.536. A total of 88.329 electrified vehicles were sold over Q1 2018, up 40.9% year-on-year and accounting for a 2.1% share of total European sales. And indeed, Germany (+70.2%) does overtake Norway (+20%) when taking volumes into account at 17.574 vs. 16.182. But. And this is a big but. Germany electrified vehicle sales only represent 2% of its total market – below the European average – whereas Norway hits an otherworldly 47.9% share. Only two additional markets manage to surpass 4% share: Sweden at 7.1% (+63%) and Finland at 4.3% (+145.3%). The UK and France, ranking #3 and #4 respectively in volume, almost match the European average at 2%, while the Netherlands (3.3%), Switzerland (3.1%), Austria (2.5%), Belgium (2.4%) and Portugal (2.4%) are the only other above-average markets. Removing Norwegian sales brings the European electrified market share down from 2.1% to 1.7%.

We have also decided to look at the other Fuel Type sales in Europe over Q1 2018 for a full comparison set.

The Tesla Model S ranks 5th best-selling BEV in Europe in Q1 2018. Picture

HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicles):

Most popular here is the Toyota Yaris (29.536) over the C-HR (24.456). Present for over a decade, this category benefits from a higher penetration at 3.4% of the European market thanks to 145.241 sales over the period, a strong 22.9% above its Q1 2017 tally. Volume-wise, the UK dominates at 22.531 (+9.4%) above France at 21.805 (+12.7%), Italy at 20.230 (+31.7%) and Germany at 19.834, up a vigorous 65.7%. However none of these markets crosses the 4% HEV share barrier. The only nation to sport a double-digit HEV share is, again, Norway at 10.7% despite sales down 33.4% to 3.613. Below we find Finland at 8.7% (+36.1%), Sweden at 5.7% (+8.1%), Ireland at 5.4% (+64.7%) and Estonia at 5% (+13.8%). Two large volume markets, Spain at 4.9% (+31.1%) and the Netherlands at 4.7% (+25.8%) follow, both outpacing the segment’s growth.


It’s the big story of the past couple of years: originally triggered by the VW emissions scandal in 2015, diesel sales are now plummeting all across Europe as countries adopt more stringent policies restricting the circulation of diesel-powered vehicles. Overall diesel sales plunge 17.1% year-on-year in Q1 to 1.603.337 units and 37.8% share vs. 45.8% a year ago. The one country not affected by this descent to hell is Italy with diesel sales down just 2.6% to 316.367 and 55.1% share. As a result it is now the #1 market in Europe for this fuel type, overtaking Germany at 283.766 (-21.3%) and the UK at 240.614 (-33.3%). France at 226.048 (-11.9%) remains 4th above Spain at 130.661 (-17.3%). Further down, the steepest declines are recorded by Norway (-34.7%), Finland (-24%), Slovenia (-23.4%), Sweden (-22.1%) and the Czech Republic (-21.5%). Markets that sport the highest diesel market shares include Bulgaria (57.7%), Ireland (56.3%), Portugal (54.1%), Estonia (47.5%), Slovakia (46.9%) and Romania (46.7%). The Netherlands comes last at 15.5% share and even saw a gain at +6.7%, followed by Norway at 18.6%.


Taking full advantage of the diesel’s fall of grace, European petrol sales advance 14.3% in Q1 to 2.355.611, seeing their share improve from 48.8% to 55.5%. The Top 8 markets are unchanged and reproduce the overall European order. Germany is up 20.3% to 63% share vs. 54.5% a year ago, the UK is up 3.5% to 61.4% vs. 52%, France is up 16.3% to 53.4% vs 47.2% but Italy is down 3.2% to 33.1% vs. 33.6% (note GPL is very successful in Italy). Romania (+61%), Bulgaria (+54.3%), Hungary (+48.8%), Greece (+48.4%), Spain (+38.4%), Slovenia (+36.1%), Lithuania (+26.2%), Portugal (+25.6%) and Austria (+25.1%) record the largest gains while the highest market shares are reached by Estonia (76.2%), the Netherlands (75.9%), Hungary (71.3%), Poland (71.2%), the Czech Republic (65.2%) and Denmark (64.1%).

Full Q1 2018 sales for 26 markets by BEV, PHEV, Electrified, HEV, Diesel and Petrol sales below.

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