Tesla, the US-based electric vehicle (EV) maker, has dominated Europe’s EV market in the first half of 2023, with its Model Y becoming the best-selling car in all categories. The company also took the second spot with its Model 3 sedan, while its competitors Volkswagen (VW), Volvo, and Fiat trailed behind.
Tesla’s aggressive pricing strategy pays off
Tesla has been cutting prices in Europe and other global markets since January 2023, in an attempt to spur demand and fend off competition. The company’s CEO Elon Musk said in April that Tesla would prioritise mass production over profit, in a bold tactic that seems to be working.
Tesla sold 138,814 Model Ys between January and June of this year, almost double the volume sold during the same timeframe in 2022. The electric SUV even elbowed out combustion engine cars like the Dacia Sandero and Volkswagen T-Roc to take the top spot, the first time ever for an EV in Europe.
The Model Y’s biggest European markets in June included Germany (6,098 units), France (4,335), Norway (3,127), the UK (5,500 units), Sweden (2,408 units), Denmark (2,164), and the Netherlands (1,778 units), while Belgium also had a high number of deliveries at 1,300 units.
The Tesla Model 3 finished the month in second with 14,163 registrations. Sales can be expected to rebound once the brand’s refreshed version lands. However, how much volume this might add is up for debate. The distribution of deliveries was more irregular than for the Model Y, with bigger markets like France (3,966 units), the UK (1,962 units), Germany (1,668 units), and Italy (1,010) taking the largest chunk of sales.
Tesla leads the brand ranking but VW Group still ahead
In the brand ranking for the month of June, Tesla was comfortably out in front with a 13.1% share, up 0.7% compared to May. VW took the runner-up spot with an 8.5% share, up 0.2% compared to the previous month. Third-place BMW (7.9%) gained an advantage over Mercedes-Benz (7.4%, down from 7.7%), but with only a slim margin separating the two, a lot could still happen before the end of the year.
Finally, Volvo (6.2%, down from 6.5%) was comfortable in fifth, with sixth-place Audi (5.3%) and seventh-place Peugeot (4.7%) some distance behind.
However, while the Tesla brand dominated Europe’s EV market in the first half of this year, VW Group — which includes the likes of VW, Audi, and Skoda — is still leading in the automotive group category, with a 19.9% market share.
VW Group has been investing heavily in its EV portfolio, launching new models such as the ID.4 and ID.3 that have been well received by consumers. The ID.4 recorded 10,252 registrations in June, making it the third best-selling EV in Europe. The ID.3 came in fifth with 8,143 registrations.
China’s EV makers pose a new challenge
While Tesla and VW Group are battling for Europe’s EV market supremacy, a new threat is emerging from China’s EV makers that are eyeing expansion in the continent.
Companies such as Nio, Xpeng, and Li Auto have been gaining popularity in their home market with their affordable and innovative models. They are now looking to tap into Europe’s growing demand for EVs by offering lower prices and better features than their Western rivals.
However, China’s EV makers face some challenges to conquer Europe, such as high tariffs, regulatory hurdles, consumer preferences, and brand recognition. They also have to compete with local players that have established networks and loyal customers.
According to some analysts, China’s EV makers will need to differentiate themselves from their competitors by focusing on quality, design, technology, and customer service. They will also need to adapt their products to suit European tastes and standards.
China’s EV makers have already made some progress in entering Europe’s market. For instance, Xpeng delivered its first batch of G3 SUVs to Norway in December 2022 and plans to launch its P7 sedan there later this year. Nio is also preparing to enter Norway with its ES8 SUV and ET7 sedan by the end of 2023.
Europe’s EV market continues to grow rapidly
Europe’s EV market is continuing to grow rapidly with impressive figures in June. According to data from EV-volumes.com, Europe saw over 311,000 EV registrations in June, up 42% on the same month in 2022. But the overall market also grew quickly, up 19% year on year.
Electric vehicles made up 25% of all new-car registrations in Europe (encompassing the EU, UK and EFTA markets). Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) alone held a 17% share after the number of newly registered units increased 57% year on year. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) recorded their highest rate of growth this year at 17%, ending the month with close to 100,000 units.
This meant BEVs accounted for the vast majority of EV sales in June at 68%, while PHEVs made up the remaining 32%.
The growth of Europe’s EV market is driven by several factors, such as stricter emission regulations, generous incentives, expanding charging infrastructure, and increasing consumer awareness. The market is also benefiting from the recovery of the automotive sector after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Europe is expected to remain one of the leading regions for EV adoption in the coming years, as more automakers launch new and improved models to meet the rising demand. According to some forecasts, Europe’s EV market could reach 3.6 million units in 2023, up from 2.4 million in 2022.