Electric cars have been the main driving force behind an increase in car registrations in Europe, according to data from JATO Dynamics.
Last month, new car registrations increased by 63% in Europe compared with March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
The data found that for 26 markets across the region, volume rose from 842,094 to 1,374,313 units, bringing the Q1 volume to 3,045,703 – an increase of 1%. Despite this increase, Q1 2021 recorded the lowest total volume of new car registrations for a first quarter since 1986, when excluding 2020.
Despite signs of recovery, the industry is still facing several challenges with registrations falling by 22% last month when compared with March 2019. This marks the lowest total volume of new cars registered since March 2013, when volume totalled just 1,337,588 units as a result of global financial crisis.
Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, commented: “The European car market is still a way off from reaching pre-pandemic volumes, and governments must take further action to help boost sales and restore consumer confidence.”
EVs and SUVs continued to be the main drivers of growth for the market. EVs posted a record market share of 16% in March 2021, compared to 9.7% in March 2020, and just 3.4% in March 2019.
Munoz added: “Consumers are reacting positively to more extensive and competitive EV offerings. However, as these vehicles are often more expensive than ICE models, the positive impact has not yet offset the big drops seen across traditional high-emissions fuel types.”
The market share of SUVs has also continued to grow year-on-year, from 37% in March 2019 to 40% in March 2020 and 45% in March 2021. Notable traction was gained in Sweden, Norway, Slovenia and Hungary, where they gained more than 10 points of share between March 2020 and 2021.
Munoz continued: “The success of EVs and SUVs stand as a good indicator that consumer demand will soon be focused towards upcoming electric SUV models, which will be a key driver of growth for the industry moving forward.”
In the European model rankings, the Volkswagen Golf reclaimed its position as the most registered car in Europe with 26,265 units, up by 12% in March 2021. The electrified versions (PHEV and MHEV) of the Volkswagen Golf contributed to this growth, especially in Germany, where they accounted for 36% of the model’s volume.
The Tesla Model 3 was fourth in the model rankings last month and confirmed its position as the top selling model in the European BEV rankings in both March and Q1. The Model 3 also topped the BEV rankings in the UK, France, Norway, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Poland, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany, ahead of the Volkswagen ID.3. Another non-European model which posted strong results was the Hyundai Kona, as the second most registered BEV in March 2021. Volkswagen registered 4,897 units and 4,817 units of the ID.3 and ID.4 respectively.