Tesla’s share of the critical European battery-electric-vehicle market crumbled in the first month of 2021, and China has taken the top spot from Europe in the EV race, according to new research.
Tesla’s TSLA, +5.49% trajectory in Europe is in decline. The U.S. car maker delivered 1,619 battery-electric vehicles to 18 key European markets in January, representing 3.5% of all battery-electric vehicles registered that month, according to a report based on public data by automotive analyst Matthias Schmidt. In 2020, Tesla delivered 1,977 vehicles in January — more than a 5% market share.
Those 18 markets include the European Union states — minus 13 countries in Central and Eastern Europe — as well as the U.K., Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland.
Schmidt called Tesla’s January performance “consistently low,” noting that the company’s European delivery schedule sees volumes peak at the end of each quarter. However, the analyst noted that Tesla’s 12-month rolling volumes have now fallen behind Hyundai 005380, -3.27% and Kia 000270, +3.12%, which are now the third-most popular EV group in Europe.
Tesla comfortably topped the European EV charts in 2019. It delivered more than 109,000 vehicles that year, making up 31% of the region’s battery-electric-vehicle market. But the tide turned in 2020, with Tesla dropping behind both the brands of Volkswagen Group VOW, +0.67% and the alliance between Renault RNO, +1.37%, Nissan 7201, +1.43%, and Mitsubishi 8058, +0.47%.
Last year, Tesla made up just 13% of the European market despite a smaller proportional decline in the number of vehicles it delivered — around 10% — from 109,000 in 2019 to nearly 98,000 in 2020.
According to Schmidt, who publishes the European Electric Car Report, it was the introduction of emissions targets, and the specter of massive fines, that accelerated the European car makers’ battle against Tesla for dominance.
More broadly in January, China raced past Europe to reclaim its crown as the world’s largest market for electric vehicles. There were 179,000 battery-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles registered in China in January, compared with 110,000 in Europe.
The boost in China comes after a standout year for Europe. There were 1.33 million electric-vehicle registrations in Europe in 2020, topping 1.25 million in China, amid a pedal-to-the-metal push to increase EV adoption from European governments and supercharged demand from consumers.
Schmidt’s report shows that Volkswagen Group, which manufactures VW, Audi, Skoda, Seat, and Porsche, remains the most popular battery-electric vehicle group in Europe, with more than 22% of the market share after delivering 10,193 vehicles.
It is closely followed by Stellantis STLA, +2.21%, a group formed earlier this year through the merger of PSA — which included Peugeot and Citroën — and Fiat Chrysler. Stellantis delivered 9,005 vehicles.
Behind Stellantis is Hyundai and Kia, increasingly popular in Europe, which delivered more than 7,087 vehicles. That puts the Korean group ahead of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which delivered 6,018 cars, though Renault’s Zoe remained the most popular battery-electric vehicle in Europe in January.
Germany remained the single largest market within Europe for electric vehicles. The 16,315 battery-electric vehicles registered in the country in January were more than the totals of the next-two largest markets, France and the U.K., combined.