29 aoû 22

True Fleet BEV sales: Volkswagen lagging behind Tesla

A tumultuous first half year of 2022 overshadowed the European car market. But in True Fleet, electric cars managed to float on top of the geopolitical and supplier constraints. Sales figures from Dataforce show their share is still rising with the Volkswagen Group in the lead, followed by Tesla and then Stellantis. But it's a tight steeple chase.

Despite bottlenecks in the supply chain, softening their adoption rate, BEVs rose in the first half of the year by 21.7% within the European True Fleet market. That's an increase of 47,562 units compared to the same period in 2021. The adverse industrial conditions haven't stalled BEV growth but inevitably flattened the curve. Remember, last year, the percentage of electric cars soared at a staggering 57% or more than double the pace.   

The most important findings from Dataforces registration figures are:

  • For the Volkswagen Group True Fleet is the most important BEV sales channel;
  • The Volkswagen brand, poised to surpass Tesla, lags;
  • Stellantis, now bigger than Volkswagen Group on the private BEV market, grows more than three times faster;
  • Stellantis is on the verge of surpassing Tesla in True Fleet.
  • Tesla Model Y is the best-selling BEV.

VW: a quarter of the market

Combining the models from all of its subbrands (Audi, Skoda, Cupra, Porsche), the Volkswagen Group leads comfortably. So far, it accounts for almost a quarter of the European True Fleet Market (24.1%) and has shifted 52,802 BEVs during H1.

But in hot pursuit of Tesla (second place: 32,381 units), which shows signs of slowing down, is the Stellantis Group, which grew by 28.5% to 31.758 units this year (H1), more than triple the pace of the Volkswagen Group. So could this for True Fleet be the preview of the share ratio on the private market where Stellantis (53,422) has outgrown Volkswagen (49,940) in Europe since the beginning of this year? Senior Automotive Analyst at Dataforce Benjamin Kiebis points out how these results reflect the different electric ranges from both groups: Stellantis converts existing models in smaller and more accessible segments and light commercial vehicles, while Volkswagen has a stronger focus on the higher positioned SUV market.

For the Volkswagen Group, True Fleet is its most crucial marketplace for its BEV sales. It's the only OEM of the three mentioned here that sells fewer electric cars in the private market.  

Stellar performance

Speaking of models, compact SUVs are at the heart of the True Fleet market. Europe's best-seller in the first half of 2022 was the Tesla Model Y (18,113 units), followed by its hatchback sibling, the Model 3 (14,264) and the Volkswagen ID.4, which secures the third spot at 9,357 units.

A stellar performance comes from the Fiat 500e, reaching a fourth place with 8,925 units. An unusual ranking for a city car in a market favouring higher-riding medium-sized models. Kibies explains: "A closer look shows that Fiat carved out a strong position for the 500e in the business for car sharing." Successful, indeed, since the next small car, the Peugeot e-208, only ranks ninth (5,838).

Volkswagen brand sputters

While the Volkswagen Group maintains a stronghold, the brand has a hard time living up to its expectations. In 2021, Volkswagen nearly surpassed Tesla in True Fleet EV sales, missing the top spot by a hair - or 223 cars to be precise. Volkswagen seemed right on track bringing its goals home this year.

That didn't happen. For Wolfsburg, the electrification roll-out is sputtering. During the opening half of 2022, the gap with Tesla widened to 12,384 registrations. Not because Tesla sales boomed - though it did sell 17.4% more vehicles in H1 - but because Volkswagen sales have dwindled to 19,997 units, dropping 25.8%.

"A surprise"

"Volkswagen's backdrop is a surprise", concludes Benjamin Kibies, "Certainly because they have been putting so much effort in their electrification strategy and implementation." The closure of its electric car plant in Zwickau because of a supply bottleneck from Ukraine offers part of the explanation. However, Tesla suffered a similar fate in China because of lockdowns.

For many reasons, the second half of 2022 will reshape the landscape for EV sales in True Fleet. A gradually improving supplier context is set to start reducing lead times and re-empower the market while most OEMs prepare to boost BEV output by the end of the year to avoid paying CO2 fines under the EU directive. "Some brands still have some homework on the table to escape these fines.", says Kibies, "Skoda is one of them, and also Dacia."

And with Tesla having re-opened orders for the Model S and X in Europe - "an important fleet player", says Kibies -Volkswagen being overwhelmed by the demand for the ID.Buzz and Stellantis readying more electric models better suited for True Fleet (though not expected before 2023) steam is picking up.

Authored by: Piet Andries