3 Feb 23

Volkswagen BEV sales to True Fleet slipped in 2022

Full-year results of the three big suppliers to True Fleet, provided by Dataforce, unveil a soothing message for fleet managers: deliveries are regaining traction as the second quarter saw registrations doubling at both VW Group and Tesla. The German car maker affirms its role as king of the European fleet market, even though sales for the VW brand ended lower compared to 2021 in a year-to-year comparison. The Stellantis Group needs more upmarket models to make a fist.

The most important highlights:

  • Only Volkswagen Group sells more BEVs in True Fleet than in the private market (+4.27%).
  • BEV sales in True dwindled for the brand Volkswagen in 2022 (-3.18%).
  •  On the verge of being overtaken by Stellantis, Tesla widened the gap during H2.
  • The model range at VW and Tesla is well-suited for True Fleet, while Stellantis’ converted BEV range appeals more to privateers.
  •  Both the VW Group and Tesla doubled their sales in H2 2022, while Stellantis leveled.
  • The Tesla Model Y is the best-selling car in True Fleet.

The True Fleet market was bullish in 2022. Despite disruptions in the logistics channel which were aggravated by the Ukrainian war during the first half of the year, the market managed to surface from the long-lasting corona dip and grew by 3.5%, reaching a total of 3,609,598 units in the EU-15 countries.

Furthermore, 2022 proved pivotal for battery-powered cars (+34.3%) as they surpassed the total sales of plug-in hybrids (-3.4%) for the first time, registering 530,373 units compared to 450,458 units for the latter. This change witnesses how PHEVs, as a transitional technology, have reached a tipping point.

“Meeting CO2 goals”

Focusing on the top-three supplier groups for electric cars (Volkswagen, Stellantis, and Tesla), a steep climbing curve emerged last year. At least for the Volkswagen Group and Tesla, who both managed to double their sales in the second year-half compared to H1, showing how they got to grips with the backdrops that hampered their output early in the year. It wasn’t a matter of lack of demand but rather an adverse climate for logistics.

“Meeting CO2 goals by the end of the year will surely have served as a carrot on a stick for the Volkswagen Group”, explains Benjamin Kibies on how the German car maker went from 52,802 BEVs during H1 to 97,407 in the last two quarters of 2022 (combined: 150,209). Showing its confidence, Volkswagen announced before the year’s end that it was stepping out from the CO2 pool it had formed with Chinese EV brands stating that reaching emission goals under the EU directive now had become “manageable on our own.”

“It’s also clear that the VW Group offers the appropriate models for fleet success,” adds Kibies, referring to their premium offers and the overwhelming accent on battery-powered SUVs. The results show that the Volkswagen Group is the only one selling more BEVs in the corporate (44.2%) than the private market (40.5%). With the upcoming launches of the Audi Q6 e-tron and VW ID.7, the German group will be traveling down the same road for 2023.

Tesla rises

The contrary is true for rival Stellantis, relying on a portfolio of smaller electric cars converted from ICE models and light commercial vehicles. Their priority sales channel is the private market (50.44%), with fleet output falling back to 29.84%. If the eleven-brand group looked like it was going to overtake Tesla at first, its flat performance over the year, resulting in 66,291 registrations, gave the advantage to the American EV maker (91,780 cars).     

“If the Volkswagen Group managed to more or less dampen the effects from the chip crisis at its BEV factories, Tesla emerged strongly from the China lockdowns.” In Europe, the company improved its True Fleet sales by 45.8% (Volkswagen: +24.8%, Stellantis: +27.0).

The results were bleaker for the brand Volkswagen, which can be considered Tesla’s closest rival for pricing, positioning, and ranking. Shifting 156,754 cars in True last year, it actually sold fewer electric cars than in 2021 (161,900), pinpointing how the output trajectory of its electric portfolio took its blow from the early production troubles. However, in H2 2022, the brand did perform 21.2% better than the year before, a clear sign of recovery (and changing tax incentives for EVs in its core market Germany). 

Top ten

Looking at the most popular car models in True Fleet, the Berlin-built Tesla Model Y took a comfortable lead with 57,183 units. Almost double the numbers as the sedan it is based upon, the Model 3 (33,042 units). Its stablemate takes second place closely, followed by the VW ID.4 (30,481) and then the ID.3 (24,216).

The highest-ranking nameplate from the Stellantis group on the list is the Fiat 500e, coming in at sixth place with 17,198 units registered in Fleet. Its success in the private market gives it some tailwind as it leapfrogs over the Skoda Enyaq, taking fifth place with numbers from both segments combined. The Fiat 500e is the only model from the Stellantis group in the top ten.

No heir to the Golf?

“It must be rather tough for the Volkswagen brand that the ID.3, their version of an all-electric Golf, doesn’t compete better”, adds Kibies. This might also explain why Volkswagen Group boss Oliver Blume acknowledged recently that the famous name badge would be maintained in the future despite the ID. family symbolizing the era of battery power. But when the ID.3 was launched, it was indeed pitched as an heir to the Golf, in the same sense as that car succeeded the Beetle. However, the Golf has lost its crown as Europe's best-selling car last year.

It was surpassed by the Peugeot 208. With all-electric versions of the Peugeot 308, Opel Astra-e, ë-C4X, and Jeep Avenger up its sleeve, Stellantis is bracing itself for the year to come. But, according to Kibies, the model offensive might sort a limited effect on the balance of power in True Fleet. “The question is whether these new models will be premium enough,” comments the analyst from Dataforce.

Two model strategy

Tesla has the most wind in its sails. Elon Musk showed atonement in early 2023 after pushing through the price cuts of up to 20% across the range - also in Europe - stating that demand has outgrown output in January.

“One can’t help but feel astonishment for their continuous achievement,” concludes Kibies. “They are taking on, and beating, multi-branded groups like Volkswagen and Stellantis with barely two models. Well, one-and-a-half, since the Model 3 and Model Y are basically the same thing.” Volkswagen has already announced that it won’t be joining the EV price war - contrary to technical EV partner Ford which has already stepped in.

Image: Volkswagen




Authored by: Piet Andries