Battery-electric cars and SUVs are driving the recovery of the European car industry, according to industry analytics firm Jato Dynamics.
In total, 1.12 million cars were sold across the continent last month, an 18% increase compared with the volume recorded in May 2022.
Growth was evident “across all segments”, said Jato’s Felipe Munoz, but it “has not been enough to bring total volume back to pre-pandemic levels”.
The best-selling brand across Europe last month was Volkswagen, which delivered 117,431 cars, followed by BMW (69,621) and Toyota (68,257).
The biggest improvement year on year was recorded by Tesla, whose 2.63% market share in May 2023 represents a significant gain on the paltry 0.15% in the same month last year (when it was hit by supply issues). The brand registered 29,362 cars, making it more popular than historic brands including Volvo, Seat and Nissan; and close to Citroën and Fiat.
In fact, the Tesla Model Y was the best-selling battery-electric car in Europe in May by a significant margin, recording 21,530 deliveries. The Model Y “stands a good chance of leading both the European and global model ranking by the end of the year,” said Munoz. The Volkswagen ID 4 took second place for BEVs with 8543 sales, followed by the MG 4 with 6310. Overall EV sales increased by 65% compared with May 2022, to 169,091 units.
Nonetheless, petrol hatchbacks remained some of the most popular models in Europe, with the Dacia Sandero leading the charge.
Here is the full top 10 best-sellers list for Europe in May 2023:
The top 10 best-selling cars in Europe
1. Dacia Sandero, 21,745 sales, +78% year on year
Last year’s second best-seller, the Dacia Sandero, looks set to take the top spot in 2023. Its appeal is bolstered by its exceptional value for money, which will have resonated with buyers as the cost of living crisis continues to hit across Europe. That it’s also a competitive supermini, with a spacious interior and decent handling, makes it an especially compelling buy.
2. Tesla Model Y, 21,530 sales, +1838% year on year
Tesla’s stranglehold on the global electric car market continues, with the Model Y appearing to be a shoo-in for a podium finish in this year’s European sales charts. There are questions over how sustainable its success is, though: Munoz notes that “continuous price cuts” have played a key role in boosting sales.
3. Volkswagen T-Roc, 18,333 sales, +7% 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 venerable Volkswagen Golf. A recent facelift boosted its interior quality, addressing one of the few criticisms of this well-rounded crossover.
4. Peugeot 208, 18,157 sales, -1% year on year
The Peugeot 208 was 2022’s best-selling car in Europe, but it has yet to hit that pace in 2023. Don’t count it out yet, though. Expect it to challenge for a podium spot once again later this year, as Stellantis works to resolve widely reported problems with logistics.
5. Renault Clio, 18,078 sales, +87% 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 in the UK, 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.
6. Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, 17,405 sales, -4% year on year
The cheaper sibling of the Peugeot 208 enjoys strong demand. A refreshed model is due in the coming months – adding Vauxhall’s signature ‘Vizor’ front end and bringing a range boost for the Corsa Electric – which could catalyse its rise up the charts.
7. Toyota Yaris, 15,741 sales, +26% year on year
It’s not hard to see why the Yaris is a hit. Not only is it a relatively affordable car, but it’s also backed by Toyota’s legendary reputation for reliability and can easily average 60mpg with a careful right foot.
8. Volkswagen Golf, 15,424 sales, +3% year on year
The ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf has been a long-time favourite in Europe, but it was leap-frogged by the smaller (and cheaper) Peugeot 208 last year. Its slide down the charts doesn’t appear to be slowing, based on its latest sales.
9. Skoda Octavia, 15,183 sales, +189% year on year
A second successful month for the Skoda Octavia keeps it in the top 10. The Czech hatch comes with an attractive and practical specification, boasting a class-leading 640 litres of boot space. Drivers can also choose a sporty vRS model, too.
10. Peugeot 2008, 14,845 sales, +26% year on year
The 208’s larger sibling offers a similarly plush interior and the same selection of petrol and electric powertrains. That it’s a fair bit more expensive than the supermini may explain why it’s not as popular, but the upcoming facelift may give it a further boost up the charts.