The European automotive market witnessed a massive surge in electric vehicle (EV) sales during the third quarter of this year. Despite an overall slowdown in vehicle registrations, the demand for EVs has continued to rise. According to a recent report by JATO Dynamics, European new vehicle registrations increased by 10% to 1,155,648 units in September, marking the slowest rate of growth recorded this year. However, when compared to the same period in 2020, the total volume was down by 11%. On the other hand, the demand for EVs surged 47%.
Felipe Munoz, a Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics, attributed the market's overall growth to several factors, including the continued demand for EVs. Munoz commented, “Despite financial pressures such as rising inflation and interest rates, alongside geopolitical uncertainty – the European car market has seen consistent growth over the course of this year.”
While EVs have been a key driver of this growth, it is unlikely that this will be sustained for much longer, unless a truly affordable EV alternative is launched that can take the ‘up front cost battle' to traditional combustion engine vehicles.
What we're seeing here at WhichEV, is a never ending stream of electric vehicles launching into the £40-80,000 space. Given that the most popular petrol/diesel cars have traditionally been priced around £15-25,000, the next target for EV makers is clear.
Demand for Electric Vehicles Continues to Rise
The demand for electric vehicles has been on the rise, even though affordable EV options are still limited. Last month, EV registrations totalled 186,380 units, accounting for an impressive 16.1% of the market, which represents a 13% increase when compared to September 2022. Year to date, a total of 1,465,249 new electric passenger cars have been registered, marking a substantial 47% increase when compared with the same period last year.
Munoz emphasized the significance of EVs in the market by saying, “Despite higher prices, these vehicles have a considerable presence within the market. Now, we will only see this growth continue if and when cheaper alternatives arrive.”
MG Emerges as a Strong Competitor
Arguably the only large/mainstream EV manufacturer focused on value, is the (originally British) brand, MG. With products like the hugely popular MG4 coming in multiple performance/range/price options – MG managed to record an overall figure of more than 26,500 registrations in September, marking an astonishing 91% increase compared to the same month last year. This takes the brand’s year-to-date volume to almost 163,200 units, which represents an impressive 126% increase.
In terms of sales volume, MG has already outperformed competitors including Suzuki, Mazda, and Mini – with a variety of leasing options available for those who don't want an outright purchase.
Last month, the MG 4 was Europe’s second most registered electric vehicle, marking its best performance since being introduced in September 2022. Over this period, MG has registered more than 57,800 units of this compact hatchback. In September 2023, the MG4 outsold the Kia Niro, Fiat 500e, VW ID.4 and Mercedes EQA.
The MG ZS has also been gaining traction, up by 118% to 11,862 units, becoming Europe’s 12th best-selling SUV during the month.
Other Successful Hybrid Models
Aside from MG and Tesla, several other brands that offer an array of cars that use an electric motor for propulsion ‘at least some of the time', also did well. These include Nissan, Cupra, BMW and Mercedes.
The surge in EV sales, particularly in the SUV segment, is indicative of a growing shift in consumer preferences towards electric vehicles, according to JATO. Despite the challenges posed by inflation, rising interest rates, and geopolitical uncertainty, the trend toward electric mobility in Europe continues to gain momentum. As automakers introduce more affordable electric models, the electric vehicle market is poised for even greater growth in the coming years.
SUVs Dominate the Electric Vehicle Market
One remarkable trend highlighted by the report is the continued dominance of SUVs in the EV market. SUVs accounted for a staggering 60% of total battery electric vehicle (BEV) volumes in September, surpassing the already impressive 54% market share in the overall vehicle market.
Munoz explained, “The impact of SUVs on the traditional market has fed through to the EV market. Their strong sales performance is largely due to the increasingly broad offer spanning both luxury and smaller, more affordable models.”
In a significant achievement, Tesla's electric SUV, the Model Y, became Europe's most popular new car last month with 29,309 units registered, topping both the monthly and year-to-date rankings. Munoz stated, “It’s very likely that the Tesla Model Y will finish the year as Europe’s most registered new vehicle. Considering Tesla’s strong performance across its range, the brand also has the potential to shock the industry by outselling legacy local OEMs such as Fiat or Citröen.”
However, it's worth noting that despite the success of the Model Y, Tesla's overall registrations fell slightly in September, primarily due to declining demand for the old Model 3 – now that a much improved ‘refresh model' is about to land. Consumers are likely to be awaiting the arrival of the new model, which could potentially impact sales performance in the short term.
JATO Dynamics was founded in 1984 and has a presence in over 51 countries worldwide. JATO's aim is to provide timely, accurate and up-to-date information on vehicle specifications, pricing, sales and registrations.