European car market grows 14% in 2023, EVs have a 15% share (update)

European Car Manufacturers Association ACEA published the sales figures in Europe last year. In 2023, the EU car market concluded with a solid 13,9% expansion compared to 2022, reaching a full-year volume of 10,5 million units.

All EU markets grew in the past year except for Hungary (-3,4%). Double-digit gains were recorded in most markets, including three of the largest: Italy (+18,9%), Spain (+16,7%), and France (+16,1%). Conversely, Germany recorded a more modest 7,3% year-on-year increase, influenced by its weaker December performance.

In December 2023, the EU car market experienced a 3,3% decline, recording 867 052 units in sales. This drop can be attributed to the high baseline performance in December 2022 and last month’s near collapse of the German electric market.

December marked the first month of contraction after 16 consecutive months of growth. Notable increases were observed in top markets such as France (+14,5%) and Spain (+10,6%). In contrast, the German car market declined by a significant 23%.

Pure electric: almost 15%

Battery-electric cars became the third most popular choice for buyers in 2023. In December, market share surged to 18,5%, contributing to a 14,6% share for the entire year, surpassing diesel, which remained steady at 13,6%. Gasoline cars retained their lead at 35,3%, while hybrid-electric cars claimed second spot, commanding a 25,8% market share.

In December 2023, new battery-electric car sales (BEVs) declined for the first time since April 2020 (during the COVID-19 pandemic’s peak), dropping by 16,9% to 160 700 units. This decrease can be attributed to a comparatively robust performance in December 2022 and a significant downturn in Germany (-47,6%), the largest market for this power source.

Despite this, the overall volume for 2023 surpassed 1,5 million units, reflecting a substantial 37% increase compared to 2022. As said, the battery-electric car market share reached 14,6% in 2023 and 18,5% in December, despite the steep decline in Germany.

In December, new registrations of hybrid-electric cars (HEVs) in the EU surged by 26%, driven by impressive gains in three of the four largest markets: Germany (+38%), France (+32,6%), and Spain (+24,3%). This contributed to a cumulative 29,5% increase in 2023, resulting in over 2.7 million units sold, a quarter of the EU market share.

In contrast, sales of plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEVs) ended the year on a downward trend, declining by a significant 40,2% to 71 546 units in December 2023. Increases in key markets, Belgium (+19,7%) and France (+17,3%), were insufficient to offset the substantial downturn in Germany (-74,4%), the largest market for this power source.

As a result, the EU plug-in hybrid electric car market decreased by 7% compared to 2022 and now represents a 7,7% market share.

Gasoline and diesel

In December 2023, the EU gasoline car market grew by 5,1%, driven by significant contributions from key markets like Italy (+24,9%) and Germany (+16,1%). This led to a total of 3,7 million units sold, a 10,6% increase compared to the previous year. Despite maintaining the lead with a 35,3% market share throughout 2023, gasoline cars experienced a slight decline from 3,4% in 2022.

The EU diesel car market continued downward in December, contracting 9,1%. This decline was evident in several key markets, including three of the largest: Spain (-26,5%), France (-22,2%), and Italy (-19,7%).

However, Germany diverged from this trend with 10,3% growth. In 2023, diesel car sales reached 1,4 million units, accounting for a market share of 13,6%, declining from 16,4% in 2022.

Looking into the figures of the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland) and the UK, we see the same major tendencies, except for the fact that pure electric sales declined in Norway (-24,4%), but that is still less than the regress of the hole market (-27,7%).

In the UK, all electrified sales went up: +17,8%, a significant +39,3% for PHEVs, and a solid +25,2% for HEVs. Some 315 000 pure electric cars were sold in the UK last year; for PHEVs, it was less than half of this; the HEVs almost doubled the BEV sales (601 000).

In the EU, total car sales stopped at 10 547 718 units, whereas in the UK 1 903 054 were sold. The percentage of electrified cars was more than 55% in the UK, whereas in the European Union it was 48%.

By car brand

Volkswagen Group stays number one in the EU, increasing its sales by 18% in 2023, resulting in a market share of 26,1% (+0,9% compared to 2022). Number two, Stellantis, sold 2,9% more, decreasing market share from 19,7 to 17,8%.

The Renault Group was number three, with almost 17% more sales in 2023 and a market share growing from 10,6 to 10,9%. Fourth comes the Hyundai Group, with sales up 4,2% but a market share decline from 9,2% to 8,4%. Toyota Group is the same story: sales increased 9,9%, but the market share decreased from 7,2% to 6,9%.

At the 6th place, we see the BMW Group, which increased sales by 15,5% and sold almost as many cars as the Toyota Group (some 6 000 less), resulting in the same market share of 6,9%. Mercedes-Benz is seventh, with an 8,8% sales increase and a 5,7% market share (-0,2%).

Once again, Tesla registered the most significant growth, with sales up 89,2% and a market share increasing from 1,6 to 2,6%.  The three brands whose sales declined were Jaguar (-14,4%), Mitsubishi (-25,3%), and Honda (-17,7%).

According to Dataforce 2023, the most successful model in Europe across all drive types was a pure electrical car, and not surprisingly, the Tesla Model Y, which sold 254 822 times. In second place came the Dacia Sandero (235 893 units sold), and third was the Volkswagen T-Roc, selling 206 438 units.

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