The Renault Zoe overtook the Tesla Model 3 to become the best-selling battery-electric car (BEV) in Europe in 2020, with the total 1.42 million BEV and plug-in hybrid cars sold representing a 147% year-on-year increase.
According to data from car industry analysts Jato Dynamics, electrified vehicles – either full-EV or PHEV models – accounted for 12% of all cars sold across 23 European markets, including the European Union member states, the UK, Norway and Switzerland.
The sharp rise in electrified vehicle sales was driven by the increasing availability of both EVs and PHEVs and the need of manufacturers to increase sales of low-emission cars to avoid EU emissions fines.
The Renault Zoe hatch led the sales of full BEVs, with the 99,261 examples sold in 2020 a 118% year-on-year increase. That helped the Zoe pass the Tesla Model 3, 2019's best-selling BEV. Tesla sold 85,713 Model 3, representing a 9% year-on-year fall.
The new Volkswagen ID 3 hatch was third on the best-seller chart, with 56,118 units sold, despite only going on sale in the middle of last year. Notably, Jato data shows the ID 3 was the second best-selling car overall across a wider market of 27 European countries in December, with 27,997 models sold during the month. It was beaten by only the Volkswagen Golf, which sold 30,073. Volkswagen heavily pushed ID 3 sales in December in a bid to minimise an EU fine due to a manufacturer pool led by the VW Group narrowly missing its CO2 target.
Spearheaded by the ID 3, VW Group models accounted for 25.2% of all BEVs sold in the 23 major European markets in 2020. The recently discontinued e-Golf and Audi E-tron featured alongside the ID 3 in the top 10 BEVs.
The VW Group's success meant it passed Tesla to become Europe's biggest EV manufacturer, with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance also moving up to second. While Tesla accounted for 31% of all EV sales in 2019, its 13.3% market share in 2020 was only the third highest.
Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz A250e was the biggest-selling PHEV in 2020, with 29,427 sold. Sales of the Mitsubishi Outlander, which led the market in 2019, fell by 21% to 26,673 models, narrowly ahead of the Volvo XC40 Recharge T5 and Volkswagen Passat PHEV.
Best-selling battery electric vehicles in Europe region in 2020 (Source: Jato Dynamics)