In 2020, Tesla's Sales Fell 10% In Europe

Jan. 11, 2021 10:00 AM ETTesla, Inc. (TSLA)923 Comments39 Likes
Anton Wahlman profile picture
Anton Wahlman
6.97K Followers

Summary

  • In China and every other geography, collectively, outside Europe, there was 0% year-over-year growth in the EV market for the first 11 months of 2020.
  • In Europe however, there was 123% growth during the same time period. So, how did Tesla fare in the world’s only major EV growth market for Jan-Nov 2020?
  • In fact, the Tesla Model 3 was down 14% in Europe for the first 11 months of 2020, and Tesla overall was down 10% for the entire 2020.
  • Yes, in the world’s only EV growth market for most of 2020, Tesla managed to be down 10%.
  • With 123% growth in the European EV market, and Tesla down 10% for the year, that means Tesla lost over 50% EV market share.
  • Looking for a helping hand in the market? Members of Auto/Mobility Investors get exclusive ideas and guidance to navigate any climate. Get started today »

NOTE: A version of this article was first published on or about Jan. 10, 2021, on my Seeking Alpha Marketplace site.

In 2020, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) grew overall unit car sales from 367,656 units to 499,550. That’s a growth rate of 36% - certainly a good number for an automaker overall, especially in the challenging year that was 2020.

However, very close to 100% of the world’s electric car sales is principally divided between three major geographic theaters: North America, Europe and Asia, of which China is the dominant part.

Tesla’s overall unit growth rate was 36%, but the company did not perform equally well in all major geographic theaters. In this article I will focus on Europe, in part because it is the most competitive electric vehicle market, especially in the context of car models that even if they are not also sold in the North American market, at least "could" be sold in the North American market - unlike many models sold in China, as they are wholly unsuitable for the North American market for legal (safety) and market taste reasons.

Let’s start by pointing out the important definitions, as they tend to confuse some people:

EV = BEV + PHEV

EV = Electric Vehicle

BEV = Battery-Electric Vehicle (no on-board generator)

PHEV = Plug-In Hybrid-Electric Vehicle (on-board generator included)

In other words, both forms of EVs have an electric plug.

Europe’s importance to the global EV world

Some of you - particularly those of you based in the Americas or Asia - might ask: How important is Europe as part of the global EV market anyway? Maybe some of you have never even lived in Europe for any meaningful part of your lives.

We now have reliable and comprehensive EV unit sales numbers for the first 11 months of the year for all automakers combined:

EV sales

2020 1-11

2019 1-11

change

China

1,043,326

1,041,237

0%

Europe

1,085,379

486,287

123%

ROW (USA etc)

415,564

414,981

0%

TOTAL

2,544,269

1,942,505

31%

Data source: EV Sales

As you can see in the table above, we have some most interesting results for comparing the first 11 months of 2020 with the first 11 months of 2019:

  1. Zero growth in China.

  2. Zero growth in “Rest of World” (mostly the US)

  3. 123% growth in Europe!

Europe was the largest region in the world for the first 11 months of 2020 - slightly larger than China - and it was not only the only region to grow in 2020, but it also grew dramatically, by a whopping 123%. So, for those unfamiliar with the European EV market, you can now begin to understand the importance of the European theater.

The overall global EV market grew 31% for the first 11 months of 2020. That looks pretty good, right? Yes, but 100% of the growth came from Europe. Zero from China and the rest of the world (mostly the US), for that collective growth didn’t even amount to 1%. It was zero.

How did Tesla do in Europe?

As it turns out, from the same data source as the overall market - shown above - we only have like-for-like data for the Model 3 - not Tesla overall. I will show you in a moment why that distinction does not make a material difference on a year-over-year comparison, but for starters it really ought to be obvious that Tesla’s Model X and S are relatively insignificant in terms of sales, compared to the Model 3 - especially in Europe, where streets are narrower and garages are smaller, among other factors.

Europe sales

2020 1-11

2019 1-11

change

Tesla Model 3

63,086

73,041

-14%

Data Source: EV Sales

As you can see in the table above, Tesla Model 3 unit sales in Europe January-November 2020 was down 14% compared to the prior year. Mind you, the overall European EV market was up 123% during the same time period. This means a market share loss for Tesla of more than 50%.

In fact, you can see the whole data series here, from the beginning of 2019 until the end of November 2019:

Europe

Tesla Model 3

Total EV sales

Tesla M3 %

Jan 2019

0

33431

0%

Feb 2019

3757

32671

11%

Mar 2019

15771

59741

26%

Apr 2019

3738

37111

10%

May 2019

2489

37399

7%

Jun 2019

11604

47384

24%

Jul 2019

3478

35838

10%

Aug 2019

5286

35278

15%

Sep 2019

17490

58662

30%

Oct 2019

1767

48219

4%

Nov 2019

7380

55033

13%

Dec 2019

22137

77248

29%

Jan 2020

1517

74663

2%

Feb 2020

3589

69538

5%

Mar 2020

16121

84349

19%

Apr 2020

2461

31500

8%

May 2020

2278

46805

5%

June 2020

7224

92880

8%

Jul 2020

856

113659

1%

Aug 2020

7020

97482

7%

Sep 2020

16125

160059

10%

Oct 2020

872

146606

1%

Nov 2020

5014

166255

3%

Data source: EV Sales

As you can see in the table above, after a few peak months in 2019, Tesla’s Model 3 EV market share in Europe in 2020 has never reached 20% and has stayed (well below) 10% in all but two months of 2020. In two of the last five reported months it’s been at the 1% level.

What about December 2020?

I know what some of you might be thinking by now: “Yes, the first 11 months of the year is a nice thing to see, but Tesla usually has a huge December, so can you at least get some good numbers for something that includes the December month?”

Thanks to the Tesla Motors Club (TMC) we have good data for the December 2020 month, in terms of Tesla’s European sales, yielding to these full-year 2020 over full-year 2019 numbers:

Tesla Europe Registration Stats

Tesla sales

2020

2019

change

UK

24,788

13,167

88%

Germany

16,694

10,710

56%

Netherlands

8,966

30,942

-71%

Norway

8,749

18,801

-53%

France

7,216

7,442

-3%

Switzerland

6,044

6,061

0%

Sweden

4,921

6,199

-21%

Denmark

4,723

2,734

73%

Italy

3,798

2,450

55%

Austria

3,235

2,966

9%

Belgium

2,971

3,690

-19%

Portugal

1,548

1,979

-22%

Spain

1,451

2,067

-30%

Other

4,498

1,911

135%

EUROPE

99,602

111,119

-10%

Data source: Tesla Europe Registration Stats

As you can see in the table above, the 10% decline for all of 2020, compared to all of 2019, doesn’t differ much from the 14% decline in the table earlier in this article, which covered the January-November periods only. The other change in this table is that this one includes all Tesla Models sold in Europe in 2019-2020: Not only the Model 3, but also the X and S.

For the sake of completeness, and so that you see that the non-Model 3 (i.e., X and S) numbers are insignificant, here is the same table, with the same data source, but counting only the Model 3:

Model 3

2020

2019

change

UK

22,390

10,649

110%

Germany

15,196

9,013

69%

Netherlands

8,375

29,948

-72%

Norway

7,771

15,684

-50%

France

6,477

6,455

0%

Switzerland

5,168

5,028

3%

Denmark

4,279

2,439

75%

Sweden

3,531

4,216

-16%

Italy

3,346

1,943

72%

Austria

2,887

2,342

23%

Belgium

2,641

3,147

-16%

Portugal

1,384

1,683

-18%

Spain

1,225

1,687

-27%

Other

4,047

1,650

145%

EUROPE

88,717

95,884

-7%

Data source: Tesla Europe Registration Stats

As you can see in the table above, counting the Model 3 only, Tesla was down 7% in Europe in 2020 -- very close to the 10% decline overall, for Tesla.

Tesla unit vehicle sales fell 10% in Europe in 2020

There's no way of spinning Tesla’s performance in Europe in 2020: It was down 10% overall. If you count only the Model 3 numbers, it was down 14% by the end of November and down 7% for the full year. When you include the Models X and S, it was down 10% for the full year.

This is a lousy result - negative growth in the world’s only EV growth market for 2020 - for a company which is valued at perhaps the market’s highest growth multiple for a hardware product.

Tesla’s European market share declined even more in 2020

In 2020, when the European EV market was up 123%, and Tesla was down 10%, that’s a dramatic loss of market share. Had Tesla been flat, and the market been up 100%, Tesla’s market share would have been down by half. So, in 2020, Tesla’s European vehicle unit market share was down by more than 50% as a share of the EV market.

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This article was written by

Anton Wahlman profile picture
6.97K Followers
I am a former sell-side analyst -- UBS 1996-2002, Needham 2002-2006 and ThinkEquity 2006-2008. These days I review automobiles and other technology products, as well as analyze the automotive and technology industries, and coming up with long/short ideas. I also continue to write (less frequently) on macroeconomics and politics.
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Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a short position in TSLA over the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author had no positions in the market, long or short. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends press conferences, new vehicle launches and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers.

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