2023 (Q1) Europe: Car Sales and Market Analysis

2023 (Q1): New car sales in Europe increased by 17% with BEV market share at a record 13.4% and the Tesla Model Y the best-selling car model in March and the first quarter of the year.

2023 (Q1): New car sales in Europe increased by 17% with BEV market share at a record 13.4%
© Volkswagen AG

The European new car market expanded by 17% during the first quarter of 2023 to the highest level since 2019. Sales improved by over a quarter in March with battery electric cars taking a record 13.4% market share. The Tesla Model Y was the best-selling car model in Europe in March and the first quarter of 2023 with Volkswagen the largest car brand.

Latest European Car Market Statistics 2023: By Country, Brands, Models, Electric Models and months: January, February, Q1, April, May, June (HY), July, August, September, Q3, October; 20222021 & 2020.

European New Car Market in 2023 (Q1)

New car sales in Europe in 2023 Q1 and March

In March 2023, new passenger vehicle registrations in Europe increased by 26% to 1,414,815 units, and by 17% in Q1 to 3,220,806 units – the highest it has been since 2019.

Although Europe was the fastest-growing large car market in the world at the start of the year, sales were still a million cars fewer than in the first quarter of 2018.

All five largest car markets in Europe grew during the first quarter of 2023: 45% in Spain, 26% in Italy, 18% in the UK, 15% in France, and 7% in Germany.

Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics, commented “The increase in registrations is largely explained by accumulated orders from months previous that could not be delivered due to the lack of components at the time. We’ll be watching closely to see how this growth is impacted by further inflationary pressure in the coming months.”

Pure electric cars (BEVs) were a strong driver of growth with volume increasing by 43% in March to over 219,000 units. More models, lower prices, and appealing incentive packages across all markets have contributed to this positive rise in demand. The market share of BEVs totaled 13.4% for Q1 – the highest ever for the first quarter in Europe.

Best-Selling Car Brands in Europe in 2023 (Q1)

The 25 top-selling car marques in Europe in the first quarter of 2023 according to JATO were:

The 25 top-selling car marques in Europe in the first quarter of 2023

Volkswagen remained by far the largest car brand in Europe and with registrations up 25% in the first quarter of 2023 seemed to finally getting manufacturing problems under control. With the exception of Kia, all top 25 car brands in Europe increased sales volumes during the first quarter of the year.

Although Tesla grabbed the headlines for BEV sales, the Volkswagen Group came only 2,400 units behind Tesla in the Q1 ranking for battery electric car sales. Volkswagen Group’s total BEV volume was up by 57% – equal to Tesla’s sales growth. In March 2023, Volkswagen’s electric car registrations grew by 75% in comparison to Tesla’s 44%.

Tesla Model Y Led Car Sales in Europe in 2023 (Q1)

Best-selling BEV and PHEV in Europe in 2023 Q+

The volume of Tesla sales totaled 28% of all BEV registrations in March, and 22% for Q1. Munoz, added: “Tesla is showing stronger results this year than seen in 2022, despite the record set last year. However, the speed of growth would have been even faster had it not been for the triumph of the Model Y and the subsequent lack of registrations of the Model 3.”

A new vehicle has taken top spot in the European new car market. According to JATO data across 27 European markets, the Tesla Model Y was the most registered new passenger car in March and Q1 2023. While the electric SUV led a monthly ranking previously, March 2023 marks the first time that the model has topped the year-to-date ranking. This signals a significant difference from Q1 last year, when the Model Y occupied the 31st position in the ranking.

Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics, commented: “Increase in production alongside fewer supply chain issues enabled Tesla to finally deliver vehicles to its customers at pace. The Model Y will likely be among the 5 best-selling products in Europe at the end of this year.”

However, the success of the Model Y came at the expense of the Model 3 which saw fewer registrations – down by 42% in March, and 40% during Q1 2023. Munoz added: “Given the popularity of SUVs, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Model Y has risen in demand, in comparison to its sedan peer.”

Best-Selling Car Models in Europe in 2023 (Q1)

The 25 best-selling car models in Europe in the first quarter of 2023 according to JATO were:

The Tesla Model Y was the top-selling car model in Europe in March and the first quarter of 2023 with most of the sales (46,061 cars) occurring in March. It was followed by the Dacia Sandero and Volkswagen T-Roc. Previous top-sellers such as the Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, and VW Golf were slipping down the rankings.

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