Dacia Spring takes the lead in France
France’s auto market saw plugin electric vehicles (EVs) take 22.3% share of new sales in January, up from 17.6% year on year. Full electrics saw stronger growth than plugin hybrids. Overall auto volumes were 111,939 units, some 9% higher YoY, but still well below pre-2020 seasonal norms. January’s best selling full electric was the Dacia Spring.
January’s 22.3% combined plugin share comprised 13.1% full electrics (BEVs), and 9.2% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare with respective shares of 17.6%, 9.9%, and 7.7%, a year ago.
In volume terms, BEVs grew YoY from 10,217 units to 14,626 — annual grow of over 43%.
The BEV bonus saw a small modification from January 1st, trimming the value from €6,000 to €5,000 for most consumers, but for those on low incomes, increasing it to €7k. The bonus is limited to a max vehicle price ceiling of €47,000, and a max proportion of 27% of the vehicle price.
For example, the Dacia Spring (January’s bestseller), priced from €20,800, receives a bonus of €5,000 for most consumers. This brings the effective outlay down to €15,800.
Diesels saw a big YoY hit in January, falling from 18.3% to 11.2%. At this point in 2021, diesels took a quarter of new sales. Expect them to continue to fade throughout 2023. Plugless hybrids are also no longer growing as strongly as plugin categories, and currently are on a trajectory to plateau at no more than 25% of the market.
Best selling BEVs
The Dacia Spring was the best selling BEV in January, keeping its top spot from December. Second place was claimed by the Fiat 500, and third by the Renault Megane.
The Spring now comes in 3 variants, two of which are trim related, and the newest of which (mid January announcement, summer deliveries) has a higher power motor (48 kW) compared to the standard (33 kW). This allows the Spring to now appeal a bit more to folks who want peppier acceleration (as well as higher peak regen power).
On paper, the 0–100 km/h time of the stronger motor is still very modest, at 13.7 seconds (up from 19.1 seconds for the standard motor). Acceleration at typical European urban speeds (~5 to ~60 km/h), however, will feel much more responsive than many competing entry-level ICE vehicles. Especially given the lack of gear shifting delay.
Overall, it is great to see Dacia gradually evolving the powertrain of the Spring — next stop perhaps a slightly larger battery option and faster DC charging? Sales will surely see a decent boost as the options broaden out.
Most of the remaining January BEV top 10 faces were broadly familiar. A stand out result was from the new MG4, with 686 units, almost the same as December (729 units). With January being a lower volume month overall, this performance was enough for the MG4 to gain the #5 spot (from 10th last month), its highest ever.
Let’s now step back to get a view of the longer term trend:
Note that — with only thin data available — I can’t yet define the 8th to 10th positions. The contenders for these missing ranks are almost certainly the Mini Cooper, Volkswagen ID.3, and Renault Twingo (likely in that order), with volume in roughly the 1700-1800 unit range.
Having led the December and January sales, it’s no surprise to see the Dacia Spring take the top spot over the trailing 3 months. The race for second was remarkably tight between the Renault Megane, and the two Teslas. Other regular favourites, the Peugeot 208, and Fiat 500, took 5th and 6th. It is good to see the MG4 now climbing into 7th place.
If I had to place a bet this early in the year, I think the Renault Megane is still the favourite to take the annual title, but much of that is on the strength of Renault prioritizing deliveries of this model into the home market. Let’s also see how the new Peugeot e-308 will do once it is released in the next couple of months.
Auto industry data organization, AAA Data, summarized their take thus; “The year 2023 is off to a better start than 2022. And we could almost speak of an upturn, in a context that remains marked by a shortage of supply, coupled with a difficult national and international environment.” (Machine translation).
The French economy is holding up a bit better then the German and UK economies, the latest data suggests. Q4 2022 narrowly escaped an economic dip (0.1% growth), and the outlook for 2023 is currently barely flat. Sentiment however is at a low level, with street protests 1.25 to 2.5 million strong in recent weeks, and inflation high (6%) and forecast to grow further in H1.
These social and economic conditions will obviously weigh on the auto market, and we can’t expect much overall growth compared to 2022. However, the relative attractiveness of plugins remains in place, so we can expect their share to keep growing this year, especially if overall auto volumes don’t see growth.
What are your thoughts on France’s auto market and EV transition for 2023? Please jump in below and join the discussion.