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Europe March 2019: Tesla smashes volume record in market down -3.6%

Tesla has sold a record 17.440 units in Europe this month.

This article has been updated with actuals for the Top 54 brands and Top 352 models.

The European new car market retracts for the 7th straight month in March at -3.6% year-on-year to 1.77 million sales, leading to a Q1 2019 tally down -3.2% to 4.13 million. For the month, all major markets are in negative with Germany (-0.6%), Spain (-1.3%), France (-2.8%) and the UK (-3.4%) managing to restrain their loss below the market level while Italy (-9.2%) dives. Denmark (+33.1%), Norway (+26.9%), Romania (+20.5%) and Slovakia (+8.3%) post the largest year-on-year gains in the continent whereas at the other end of the scale Cyprus (-53.4%), Iceland (-41.4%), Lithuania (-33.4%), Finland (-20.9%), Croatia (-19.8%) and Sweden (-18.7%) all struggle mightily. 

Electrified car sales (EVs, PHEVs and HEVs) cross the symbolic 100.000 monthly sales mark for the first time in history at 125.400, up 31% year-on-year thanks to strong deliveries in Germany, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands. The real driver here is EVs up 85% and behind this score is one vehicle: the Tesla Model 3 (see further down). Group-wise, only Renault-Nissan (+4.3%) thanks to Mitsubishi and the Geely Group/Volvo (+2.8%) manage positive results in the Top 10, but the entire Top 5 over-performs with the Volkswagen Group (-0.6%), PSA (-1.7%), the BMW Group (-2.4%) and Hyundai-Kia (-3.4%) all losing less ground than the market. It’s a different story for Ford Motor (-15.5%), Daimler (-14%) and FCA (-11.7%) all enduring painful falls.

Over in the brands ranking, Volkswagen (-3.7%) almost exactly matches the market ahead of Renault (-5.5%) while Ford (-15%) is hit full frontal by weak results in the UK. Opel (-2.8%) and Peugeot (-3%) round up the Top 5 with market-beating performances while Audi (+2.9%) is now fully recovered from a troubled WLTP transition as it brilliantly posts the only gain in the Top 11. Below, Dacia (+21.5%), Mitsubishi (+16%), Lancia (+15.3%), Jaguar (+12%), Citroen (+6.2%), Mini (+3.4%) and Seat (+3.2%) shine but the story of the month is somewhere else…

Now that the Model 3 has fully reached European shores, Tesla advances at electric speed with sales up almost 4-fold on March 2018 (+276.8%) to a new all-time record 17.440 units, the first time in its history that Tesla scores a five-digit sales figure in Europe and breaks into the monthly Top 25 brands. We have covered this in multiple articles this month already but these sales are in fact deliveries of orders put sometimes years ago so the hype should logically fall back down in the coming months. It is nevertheless an outstanding performance for the American manufacturer which scores its largest volumes this month in Norway (5.822), Germany (2.367), the Netherlands (2.209), France (1.250) and Switzerland (1.243). The Tesla Model 3 even manages to become the outright best-seller in three European markets in March (Norwaythe Netherlands and Switzerland) and shoots up 83 spots on February to smash its ranking record, lifting it from #110 to #27, outselling such blockbusters as the Opel Astra (#28) and in its segment the Mercedes C-Class (#31), VW Passat (#40) and BMW 3 Series (#45). Needless to say the Model 3 is the best-selling EV in Europe in March and the only one in the Top 100, selling almost 4 times the amount of its closest followers the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf.

Model-wise, the VW Golf (-14%) remains on top despite a very steep drop, while its direct pursuant the Renault Clio (+6.5%) posts a very sturdy score. Despite the new generation now being in full bloom, the VW Polo (-1.7%) loses ground vs. March 2018, only edging past the much older Opel Corsa (+14.2%) lifted up 6 spots on last month by a strong performance in the UK. The Ford Focus (+6.2%) and Renault Captur (+4.4%) also impress in the remainder of the Top 10 but all other nameplates post a loss, the hardest hit being the Ford Fiesta (-24%) and Nissan Qashqai (-16.1%) while the VW Tiguan (-0.8%) is seemingly hampered by the late coming of age of its smaller sibling the T-Roc (+73.1%). Outside the Top 10, the Dacia Duster (+41.4%), Mercedes A-Class (+37.9%), Dacia Sandero (+14.2%) and Citroen C3 (+11.2%) impress the most. Among newcomers, below the Tesla Model 3 (#27), the Citroen C5 Aircross (#96) breaks into the Top 100 for the first time.

Previous month: Europe February 2019: First Top 10 finish for the VW T-Roc, Citroen C3 up to record #4 in market down just 1.3%

One year ago: Europe March 2018: Sales pulled down 5.2% by UK, best Q1 volume in 18 years

Full March 2019 Top 10 groups, Top 54 brands and Top 352 models below.

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