Record high French EV market in March – Tesla Model Y 4th overall car

France saw a record share of plug-in electric vehicles in March, at 25.4%, up from 21.4% year-on-year. BEVs alone took a share of 16.8%, a new record. The total car volumes were 182.712 units, an increase of about 24% year-over-year, although still far from the pre-2020 seasonal average (~230,000 units). The Tesla Model Y was the best selling BEV and the 4th best selling car overall.

The combined plug-in result for March of 25.4% was made up of 16.8% full electrics (BEVs) and 8.6% plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). These numbers compare YoY to shares of 21.4%, 13.5% and 7.9%, respectively.

In terms of volume, with the overall car market up more than 24% year-on-year, all powertrains saw some volume growth except diesel (-5.7% year-on-year to 19,865 units). BEVs saw a record 30,636 units (up more than 54% year-over-year), with PHEVs at nearly a record 15,717 units (up 34%).

Combined combustion-only traditional powertrains managed to hold onto a 50% market share, perhaps for the last time. Diesel alone fell to a record low of 10.9% in March (from 14.3% year-on-year).

France’s best-selling BEVs

Tesla’s Model Y took first place in March with 6,455 units. Number two were the Dacia Spring (3,481 units) and the Peugeot e-208 (3,256 units).

The Model Y was also the 4th best selling car overall (behind the Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and Citroën C3). Together with 2,008 units of the Tesla Model 3 (5th place), this was Tesla’s best monthly volume ever in France.

For once, we have fairly complete BEV model sales data for March (and for 2023 YTD). AAA dataand so we can present a top 20 chart:

With Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory now ramping up production to more than 22,000 units per month (all for the European market), we can expect Model Y to regularly be seen at or near France’s top spot.

The other models populating the top 10 are – as usual – mostly relatively affordable compact or small vehicles such as the Fiat 500, Renault Megane, MG4, Renault Zoe and Renault Twingo.

Outside the top 20, newer faces that we can detect for the first time in the March data include the Opel Astra, the BYD Atto 3 and Genesis G80. The last two only registered a single unit each, they will climb from here.

The Opel Astra has already registered 66 units (probably mainly demonstration units) so far, and should become one of Stellantis’ best-selling units, alongside its platform sibling, the upcoming Peugeot e-308. Each of these new models offers both hatchback and tourer/wagon formats.

Let’s take a look at longer-term sales trends:

There have been a few changes since 3 months ago (October to December). While previously the Tesla Model 3 was in the lead, the Model Y has now taken the top spot (from 3rd earlier), and its older brother has dropped to 6th (by less than half of the previous volume).

Meanwhile, the Dacia Spring, Peugeot e-208 and Fiat 500 have also risen, while the Renault Megane has fallen. Here is the summary of the most important climbers in the top ranks, compared to 3 months earlier:

The main climbers:

The following models lost position:

The Tesla Model Y now looks untouchable (and not just in France, but all over Europe and the rest of the world). Why? Mainly because it is both an attractive offer (with access to Tesla’s reliable charging network) and is produced in very high volumes. There are plenty of other attractive (and low-cost) BEVs on the market – in France I’m thinking of the MG4 in particular – but almost none are produced in anything close to the Model Y volume.


March marked the 7th consecutive month of year-over-year recovery in car volume in France, partly due to the lifting of supply chain restrictions. In addition to growing overall car offerings, it’s good to see BEVs making more progress than any other powertrain, breaking new ground in monthly sales volume (even higher than the recent peak in December).

Deputy Governor of the French National Bank recently predicted modest (0.6%) overall economic growth this year and 1.2% next year. Bland, of course, but better than many of France’s neighbors facing a full-blown recession this year. Inflation is coming under control (5.6% against 6.3% before). Ongoing major popular protests across the countryhowever, could still throw a spanner in the works of the economy in 2023, perhaps also of the car industry.

For those who still have access to cheap time-of-use electricity discount rates, the relative cost-of-use of plug-ins remains very attractive, despite the prospect of now rising road fuel prices. This long-term benefit in total cost of ownership is still and will continue to drive demand for plug-ins over ICE cars. So we can expect plugin market share to continue to grow in 2023, despite what may happen with more than auto volumes.

What do you think of the EV transition and outlook in France? Join the discussion in the comments below.

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