More than half of all new car registrations in Europe were battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the first quarter of 2023, according to figures from industry analyst Jato Dynamics.
The volume of all-electric models increased by 43% to over 219,000 units, which Jato says was down to an increase in model choice, appealing incentive packages and lower prices.
EV market share also reached its highest-ever level, taking up 13.4% of the European car market in the first quarter of the year.
The rise in EV uptake rounded off a healthy first quarter for Europe, with overall new car registrations increasing by 17% to 3,220,806 units. Some 1,414,815 of that figure came in March, up 26% year-on-year.
“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,” said Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics.
“We’ll be watching closely to see how this growth is impacted by further inflationary pressure in the coming months.”
The Tesla Model Y was Europe’s best-selling model in Q1, with 71,683 units registered, also topping the sales chart for March. The smaller Tesla Model 3 was not as successful as its crossover counterpart, with sales down by 42% year-on-year in March, and down by 40% compared to Q1 2023.
“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,” Munoz said.
See below for the full top-ten best-sellers list for Europe in quarter one of 2023.
The best-selling cars in Europe in 2023 (Q1 2023)
1. Tesla Model Y, 71,683, +173% year-on-year
The Tesla Model Y has reportedly been lauded by various industry giants – Ford and Toyota among them – for its design and production efficiency. No doubt helped by price cuts felt across Europe, it sits at the front of the pack not just for EV sales but in the wider market. Ramping up production at Tesla’s Berlin, Germany, factory will be key to the firm securing its place at the top – rather than relying on imports batch-shipped from China and the US.
2. Dacia Sandero, 60,202 sales, +27% year on year
Last year’s second best-seller, the Dacia Sandero has retained its position throughout all of Q1. It’s bolstered by its exceptional value for money, which will have resonated with buyers as the cost of living crisis hit across Europe. That it’s also a competitive supermini, with a spacious interior and decent handling, makes it an especially compelling buy.
3. Volkswagen T-Roc, 54,960 sales, +50% year on year
The Volkswagen T-Roc is always a popular choice in Europe and that looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. It ranked third last year, and its sales even outnumber those of the Volkswagen Golf. A recent facelift boosted its interior quality, addressing one of the few criticisms of this well-rounded crossover.
4. Peugeot 208, 53,336 sales, +3% year on year
The Peugeot 208 was 2022’s best-selling car in Europe, but it has yet to hit that pace this year. Don’t count it out yet, though. Expect it to challenge for the top spot once again as parts shortage ease, and as Stellantis works to resolve widely reported problems with logistics.
5. Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, 53,307 sales, +38% year on year
The cheaper sibling of the Peugeot 208 enjoys as much demand, with it being the UK’s second best-selling car in 2021. A refreshed model is due in the coming months – adding Vauxhall’s signature ‘Vizor’ front end and bringing a range boost for the electric Corsa-e – which could catalyse its rise up the charts
6. Toyota Yaris Cross, 53,050 sales, +57% year on year
Toyota predicted that the Yaris supermini would outsell its stilted sibling, but the model’s Q1 result defied that expectation. The Yaris Cross’s trendy shape, fuel efficiency and relatively low cost make it a solid contender in the increasingly competitive crossover market.
7. Abarth/Fiat 500, 45,598 sales, +30% year on year
Is there a more recognisable small car than the Fiat 500? It’s been on sale since 2007 and it’s unlikely to be dropped any time soon. More recently, the model gained an electric variant with a battery size of up to 44kWh. Its range is pegged at 199 miles, but mild-hybrid and petrol models remain on sale as well. An electric version of the Abarth 500 hot hatch is also on the way, with sales beginning later this year.
8. Dacia Duster, 45,310 sales, +31% year on year
The second Dacia to feature in the top 10, the Duster is a capable, hardy and – most importantly – cheap model, capturing a significant share of the booming crossover market. It will soon be joined by the Dacia Bigster, a C-segment SUV spearheading Dacia’s push into larger, more profitable segments.
9. Renault Clio, 44,134 sales, +16 year-on-year
Renault’s popular supermini is now a bigger seller than the Volkswagen Golf - who’d have thunk it? Renault also announced the model’s fifth-generation would be sold exclusively with a hybrid powertrain on our shores, but all of Europe will benefit from a wider mid-life refresh and design overhaul. A new interior and a simplified range of options are also on the way.
10. Volkswagen Golf, 42,903 sales -8% year on year
The ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf has been a long-time favourite in Europe, but it was leapfrogged by the smaller (and cheaper) Peugeot 208 last year. Its slide down the charts doesn’t appear to be slowing and it is the only model in quarter one’s top 10 to have lost sales compared with the same month a year ago.