Friday, April 25, 2014

Markets Roundup March 2014

Racing with the Big Boys...
Model S Shines in Europe

The Californian carmaker had a historical month in Norway so that shareholders had something to smile about, but it wasn't just there that the Model S outgunned the competition, as it was also #1 in Switzerland, Denmark and Belgium, while in other markets it established new personal best performances (France - 25 units; Germany - 143; Italy - 11; Austria - 25; Sweden - 26), looking that the Tesla fever is spreading through the Old Continent.  

Tesla Real Competition

Unlike other players in the market, which thrive on ICE car sales, Tesla depends entirely on the the fully electric Model S, so in order to survive, it has to go after sales of other Fullsize/ E-Segment cars across the globe, let's see how they are doing in their most important markets:

USA - With 1.600 units sold in March, the Model S is far, far away from the 13.000 units sold by the Chevy Impala, but if we consider Tesla as Premium, the Best-Seller is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class at 5.660 units and Tesla ends up in #9 on the ranking, so a lot of space to grow but also a lot of work to do here.  What if we push the Model S as a Premium Sports Sedan? Then things get a bit rosier, as only the BMW 6-Series and the much cheaper MB CLA sell more than Tesla. 

Norway - #1 in March, #1 YTD. Enough Said.

Netherlands - 190 units sold in March grant it the #2, just 15 units behind the BMW 5-Series, E-Segment Best-Seller. 

Germany - The 143 Teslas sold in March mean that it's already making a (small) dent in the Vaterland of Premium cars, it's far from the thousands/month of the 5-Series/E-Class/A6, but the 300/400 monthly units of the fullsize sport sedans Panamera and Audi A7 seem like an approachable goal in the future.

Switzerland - It's new sales record (105 units in March) it's still halfway through the 200 units/month of the E-Class... 

Denmark - Another #2 spot for the Model S (79 units), just 4 units behind the leader MB E-Class.


Trends in the G7 

Other than the otherworldly performance of Norway, where three plug-ins entered the global Top10 (Model S in #1, Leaf #4, VW e-Up! in #9 and BMW i3 in #10), a no less relevant fact is that the BYD Qin is by far the new Best Selling EV in China with 2.384 units YTD, with the 2012 record of the Chery QQ3 EV (5.305 units sold in one year) waiting to be shattered to pieces. With lots of new entrants this year (Denza EV, Venucia e30, BYD Tang...), it looks that this will be finally the year Zero of plug-ins in China.

In other news, we see the Leaf stepping ahead in the US and Japan, while the Outlander PHEV is back at #1 in the Netherlands.

Looking at EV shares, Norway is out of orbit (16,22%!), while in the Netherlands it's rising again (Now at 3,13%) and in Germany the EV share has finally increased significantly (0,32% in '14 vs 0,23 in '13 and 0,20% in '12). The others are stable with the only dark spot being France, with 0,57% share (But in February it was 0,47%, so recovery can be on the way).

Other Markets

New sales records in several european countries: 212 units in Switzerland, 144 in Denmark, 166 in Austria, 252 in Belgium, 428 in Sweden, all of these contribute to record EV Shares there: 0,56% in Switzerland (0,44% last year), 0,62% in Denmark (0,29%), 0,41% in Austria (0,26%), 0,37% in Belgium (0,17%) and 1,15% in Sweden (0,71%). 

There other markets progressing, Ireland is at 0,20% vs 0,08% last year, Estonia is at 0,89% vs 0,68% and Iceland has passed the 1% barrier, as it's now at 1,10% EV share.

Unfortunately there are markets where plug-ins are suffering, as it's the case of Spain, despite government incentives, the EV share is down from 0,17% to 0,09% share, while in Hong Kong the EV share is surprisingly down to 0,17%, when last year it ended with 0,39%, using the Nissan Leaf as a golden standard example, 4 Leafs were sold this year, when in the same period of last year it already had been registered eight...Are consumers saving for the upcoming arrival of Tesla?

Questions for April

1 - Where will be beaten the next sales records?

2 - Will Tesla surprise us again? Where?

3 - Will the Outlander PHEV surprise us? Where?

4 - Who will be #1 in Norway? Model S, Golf or Leaf?

5 - Will the signs of recovery continue in France?

6 - How many #1's will the BMW i3 collect?


  1. Why are we comparing Tesla S and ICE luxury sales when this site was all about EV's. Success won't be when Tesla is successful with its blood sucker! Success will be when Leaf's/Smarts/Volts can have a range of 200km and the rich don't dominate the EV market because it is chic... Need I go on?

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      1 - As you may have noticed, there have been previously other articles (Norway, Netherlands...), where plug-in car sales have been compared with ICE models, that's because electric cars don't live in isolation but are part of a broader auto industry and i think it's useful to know how they stand regarding the rest of the auto landscape;

      2 - Yes, Tesla is a media darling and yes, the Model S is an expensive car, but without it there wouldn't be so many buzz regarding electric cars and most importantly, Tesla would never have the chance to finance the development of the cheaper Model E (Or whatever it will be called);

      3 - Putting the Leaf, Smart and Volt in the same category is not knowing what they are all about, as the first is a pure electric compact car (Which incidentally HAS a 200 km range) that at a stretch can be used as an everyday family car, the second is a pure city car, thought to be used primarily as a commuter vehicle, so the 200 km range is not such a deal breaker as it is a steep price, while the third is a compact Plug-in Hybrid (No range questions here), that could be used as an everyday family car if GM didn't screwed things up by giving it just 4 seats and a strange-looking trunk.

      4 - For some, having an electric car might be considered chic and those early adopters value a lot the "look at me" factor, something Tesla or other dedicated models (Leaf, Volt, etc) satisfy entirely, just like the Prius did for hybrid car buyers a few years back, what we are witnessing now are plug-in versions of standard cars (VW e-Up!, Outlander PHEV, etc) that are aimed at a different kind of consumer, one that thinks more on cost-savings and other rational factors behind car buying, so right now there's something for everyone;

      5 - Yes, electric cars are still expensive, but prices have been dropping as the cost of batteries have been dropping, for further proof of that see the Leaf prices history from the launch date until now;

      6 - Need I go on?

  2. Answers:

    1 - Germany (1.054 units); China (2.110); Canada (394); Austria (171); Sweden (467) and New Zealand (41);

    2 - Nope, i guess we will have to wait for the end of the second quarter (June);

    3 - In the Netherlands it went back to #1 overall, with 1.560 units, in Germany, it was the #3 best selling EV and in Sweden it has beaten the all time monthly record with 279 units;

    4 - Golf. And with the e-Golf landing these days, this question no longer will make sense, as it will be (e-)Golf all the way;

    5 - Yep, the patient is still weak but it's now at home (Four digit area) and out of the Hospital ;

    6 - Five (Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Portugal).