2020 (September) Europe: Car Sales and Market Analysis

September 2020: new passenger vehicle registrations in Europe increased by 1% while electric car sales expanded to a fifth of the total market.

The Opel Corsa was the second most-popular car model in Europe in September 2020.
Opel Corsa © Opel Automobile GmbH

Although the European new car market contracted by 29% during the first three quarters of 2020, car sales actually increased by a modest 1% in September 2020. Electric car sales increased dramatically to outsell diesel cars for the first time ever. The VW Golf remained the top-selling car in Europe but in September 2020, the Opel Corsa took second place ahead of the Renault Clio. The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling battery-electric car in Europe .

European Car Market Statistics 2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

European New Car Market in September 2020

Monthly Car Sales by Fuel Type in Europe 2011 to 2020

2020 has been a turbulent year for the car market globally, and particularly in Europe. Although car registrations dropped by 29% during the first nine months of 2020 – to 8.54 million units – there are clear signs that Europe is all set for an electric revolution . According to JATO’s figures for September 2020, this revolution has already started.

JATO Dynamic’s data for 27 markets in Europe shows that the total number of electrified cars registered in September (encompassing pure battery-electric, plug-in hybrids, full hybrids, and mild hybrids) was higher than the number of registrations for diesel cars. For the first time in the modern era, alternative-fuelled-vehicles outsold one of the two internal combustion engine (ICE) types. This marks a significant change – for just five years ago, diesel cars were a dominant player in Europe.

Car Sales by Fuel Type in Europe in September 2020

Car Sales by Fuel Type in Europe in September 2020

Whilst overall the European new car market posted a timid growth of a mere 1.2% in September, to almost 1.3 million passenger cars, the mix by fuel type signals big differences in growth rates. Demand for gasoline and diesel cars shows double-digit drops compared to September 2019 while the volume of EVs increased by 139% to 327,800 units – a record in terms of both volume and market share. This is the first time that EVs have broken the 300,000 units monthly mark and only the second time that they have counted for more than 20% of registrations.

At the same time, the diesel market share posted a record low, of only 24.8% in September. Exactly a decade ago, diesel cars comprised 50% of registrations, while the market share for EVs was below 1%.

Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics commented: “The shift from ICEs to EVs is finally taking place. Although this is largely down to government policies and incentives, consumers are also now ready to adopt these new technologies.”

Car Sales by Segment in Europe in September 2020

According to JATO, SUVs remained by far the most popular new car segment in Europe in September 2020 with a 41% market share. Subcompacts took a 19% share and compact 17.7%.

Registrations per market segment in Europe in September 2020

Electrified Cars in Europe in 2020

This changing landscape is favoring some OEMs more than others. For example, the Volkswagen Group has successfully managed to overcome the diesel-gate scandal of 2015, to become a new protagonist in this chapter of vehicle electrification.

In September 2020, the German carmaker registered 40,300 electrified vehicles in Europe, becoming the second-largest EV seller behind only Toyota – and its continued dominance from within the hybrid segment. “Like with its SUVs, Volkswagen Group arrived late to the EV boom, but its competitive products are catching up quickly, and it is now becoming a leader,” Munoz said. Volkswagen has a habit of arriving late to a new market segment but then in full force.

Electrified car sales are increasingly important in Europe to reach CO2 emissions targets to avoid fines. By August 2020, only Volvo was already below target.

Top-Selling Electric Car Models in Europe in 2020 (September)

Top Selling Battery Electric Car Models in Europe in September 2020.jpg

Pure battery-electric car demand was led by Tesla, although its volume fell by 5%, in September 2020, while its closes rivals such as Volkswagen and Renault saw increases of 352% and 211% respectively. The Volkswagen Group is now Europe’s top-selling BEV maker, ahead of Tesla.

The top-selling battery-electric car models in Europe in September 2020 were again the Tesla Model 3 followed by the Renault Zoe. The Volkswagen ID.3 moved into third place on its first full month on the European market. The ID.3 was the best-selling electric car model in the important Norwegian market .

With battery-electric cars heavily subsidized in the German market , manufacturers can basically sell all the electric cars they could supply but several models are already sold out for 2020 with waiting times for some stretching to over a year.

Best-Selling Hybrid Car Models in Europe in 2020 (September)

Top Selling Hybrid Car Models in Europe in September 2020.jpg

Last month, hybrids and mild hybrids represented 53% of total EV registrations, with their volume growing by 124%. Toyota and Lexus dominated, as usual, with 32% market share. The Toyota Corolla was the top-selling hybrid car in Europe in September 2020.

Further growth was driven by Ford, Suzuki, Fiat, and BMW. In addition to the strong results of numerous Toyota models, volume was also boosted by the popular Ford Puma (69% of its volume corresponded to the mild-hybrid versions), the Fiat 500, and the Fiat Panda (whose hybrid version counted for 59% and 41% respectively).

In September, Mercedes-Benz was the leader in the plug-in hybrid segment with a 22% market share, followed by Volvo and BMW. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was the best-selling plug-in hybrid car model in Europe with some Mercedes models now having long waiting lists for delivery.

Best-Selling Car Models in Europe in September 2020

Top Selling Car Models in Europe in September 2020.jpg

The Volkswagen Golf was again the top-selling car model in Europe in September 2020 and for the first three quarters of 2020.

The Opel Corsa surprised by being the second-best-selling car model in Europe in 2020. The new Corsa, also available as a battery-electric car, was well received in several markets. Unfortunately, for Opel and the PSA Group, other Opels mostly struggled during the first three quarters of 2020.

The Renault Clio slipped to third for September 2020 although it remains second year-to-date 2020. The Renault Captur was Europe’s favorite SUV, ahead of similarly relatively small compact SUVs — the Peugeot 2008 and Ford Kuga.

European New Car Market in 2020

Sales and Market Analysis: