Motoring – Market Report 2023

The 2023 Portuguese car market showed promising signs in 2023, getting closer to the numbers achieved in 2019, before Covid changed everything.

The numbers are out on the health of the Portuguese car market in 2023 and things seem to be looking a bit brighter for the first time since the end of the pandemic, although we are still 12% away from the numbers achieved in 2019.

New registrations were up almost 26% to 236,053 cars, which means a little under 20,000 cars per month, or roughly 655 cars per day. 85% of all cars sold are passenger cars, 12% are commercial vehicles and the remaining 3% are the trucks companies bought to keep the economy moving forward.

The changes in the industry are clear for all to see. Electric or electrified cars are already more than half of the market. 51.9% of customers have decided they no longer want a pure petrol or diesel car and 18.2% of the whole market is 100% electric – politicians must be happy with that.

Diesel is slowly dying, with just an 18% market quota, although a diesel car is still the cleanest way to make a lot of kilometres in a year (if you also consider the production of the car and not just its use).

MG ZS EV front dynamic driving 02

Peugeot is the overall winner for the third consecutive year, selling 25,815 cars for an amazing 11.3% market share. The nation’s favourite machine is the Peugeot 2008, a car right in the middle of all the market trends. It found itself 6,760 new customers.

It’s curious that Peugeot’s CEO is Portuguese petrolhead Carlos Tavares. Obviously, he does not make his decisions with what we, such a small market in general terms, come to like in our cars, but, still, I bet he takes a special kind of pleasure in being the market leader in his own country.

Anyway, if we look closer, there are other interesting facts worth mentioning. Tesla has made it to the Top-10 for the first time and sold more cars than many historical names in the industry, such as Opel, Citroën, Fiat or Seat. Tesla sales grew 250% to 9,329 cars, which very clearly demonstrates how infatuated we are with the whole Elon-Muskness of these things. I beg to disagree, but what do I know?

To find a greater winner than Tesla – in relative terms, if not absolute – we must turn to MG, the once quirky British brand now in the possession of Chinese owners, and its astounding 350% increase in sales figures from 2022 to 2023. Yes, they only sold 1,080 cars last year, but let’s wait another 12 months and see. I bet they will double that figure in 2024.

TESLA Model 3 87
TESLA Model 3

The Top-5 is exactly the same as the previous year and shows the social differences currently developing in Portugal. Renault placed second, Mercedes third, Dacia fourth (seven cars less than Mercedes!) and BMW fifth. Meaning if we had a table, Peugeot and Renault would be sitting in the middle, Mercedes and BMW on the one end and Dacia at the other. The whole market is in those five names and 40% of them are premium ones, a number as big as the mainstreams.

Sixth place went to Volkswagen and seventh to Toyota, the two world giants that were still able to beat Tesla, who took the eighth spot, right before Citroën. Spanish Seat is the last of the firsts.

All in all, it seems things are looking up and the bigger the market, the more attention we will get from the big bosses and that will only bring good things. Yes, it is still very small – Germany sold almost three million cars last year – but everything is relative.

PEUGEOT 2008 eletto auto dellanno sudafrica

I am going to take this opportunity, before wrapping up this text, to mention something else happening thousands of kilometres away from Portugal that seems very significant, nonetheless. Hertz, the rent-a-car giant, announced last week it is selling one third of its electric car fleet and … buying petrol cars to replace it.

Hertz wanted pure EVs to make up for 25% of its American fleet but is now saying high repair costs and low demand leave them with no alternative, even though they will lose around $245 million in the operation. The industry knows, and knows well, that EVs are not the definitive answer to the need for more sustainable mobility solutions. The faster those in power also accept this the better, because I am pretty sure they know it too – they just don’t want to accept they were wrong.

2024 ought to be interesting. Let’s hope it brings some good news along with it.

Guilherme Marques

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