Renault Zoe Leads 2015 European Sales Of All-Electric Cars

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2013 Renault Zoe electric car (European model) at 2012 Paris Auto Show

2013 Renault Zoe electric car (European model) at 2012 Paris Auto Show

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While sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids fell slightly last year in the U.S., the sales data for Europe was more encouraging.

Almost 100,000 battery-electric cars were sold in the European Union last year: 97,687 units, to be precise. (Data for plug-in hybrids isn't immediately available.)

And that's close to half again as many all-electric cars as in 2014, representing an increase of 47.8 percent.

DON'T MISS: Renault Zoe Electric Car: First Drive Of Europe's Leaf Alternative (May 2013)

One of the main beneficiaries of the increase was French carmaker Renault, whose Zoe subcompact electric hatchback was Europe's best-selling electric car in 2015.

Together with its alliance partner Nissan, Renault has taken an aggressive position in making and selling battery-electric vehicles across Europe.

Renault Zoe and Kangoo ZE electric cars on the Outer Hebrides

Renault Zoe and Kangoo ZE electric cars on the Outer Hebrides

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It now offers three battery-powered models: the Zoe hatchback, the Kangoo ZE small delivery van, and the Twizy tandem two-seater low-speed electric vehicle.

A fourth electric model, the Fluence ZE sedan variant, was taken out of production after its main customer, the Israeli startup Better Place, went bankrupt two years ago.

ALSO SEE: Why The Renault Zoe Is Europe's Most Important Electric Car (Jan 2013)

Among the three models, Renault took almost one-quarter of all electric car sales in Europe: Its 23,086 sales of Zoe and Kangoo ZE electric vehicles represented 23.6 percent of sales.

(Adding in the low-speed Twizy sales pushes its share up to 25.2 percent, but Renault's sales data only really counts the highway-capable models.)

2013 Renault Zoe electric car

2013 Renault Zoe electric car

Enlarge Photo

The bulk of those sales were the Zoe, at 18,453 registrations or 19.2 percent of the market. Most of the remainder were the light-commercial Kangoo ZE electric van, at 4,325 sold. That makes each car the leader in its segment.

The Zoe racked up more sales than the larger Nissan Leaf, which is assembled in the U.K., and the Kangoo ZE dominated the all-electric light commercial vehicle segment, at 42.6 percent of sales.

CHECK OUT: Five Years After Launch, 200,000th Nissan Leaf Electric Car Sale Coming Up (Dec 2015)

The largest market for the Zoe is its home country of France--10,670 sales, or 48 percent of battery-electric sales--due to a national "Superbonus" incentive introduced last year to encourage sales of zero-emission vehicles.

More than half the Zoes sold during 2015, Renault says, benefited from that incentive.

2013 Renault Zoe electric car

2013 Renault Zoe electric car

Enlarge Photo

From their launch in 2011 through December 2015, Renault says, it has sold 62,228 electric cars plus another 16,331 Twizy low-speed vehicles.

Renault and Nissan announced in June 2015 that the two companies combined had sold more than a quarter of a million battery-electric vehicles. That followed a November 2014 combined total of 200,000.

MORE: Nissan And Renault Have Now Sold More Than 250,000 Electric Cars (Jun 2015)

But while the Zoe does well, its global sales are about one-quarter the number of the Nissan Leaf's.

That car is sold is dozens of countries around the world, and the 200,000th Leaf should be sold sometime this month.

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