The Tucson topped the Tesla Model 3, which increased sales 62 percent to finish 17th overall. The Model 3 was Europe's best-seller in December as well as September, Dataforce figures show.
SUVs prioritized during chip crisis
SUVs benefited from decisions by automakers to favored them over less profitable body types such as hatchbacks and station wagons.
“Many automakers have prioritized higher-margin models, which may have accelerated trends toward SUV and EV sales,” LMC Automotive senior analyst Sammy Chan said.
One of the biggest losers in terms of sales was the Volkswagen Golf. VW had to pause Golf production multiple times at its Wolfsburg factory because the chip shortage prevented normal output. Despite this, the compact hatchback managed to retain its top spot overall despite sales dropping 27 percent last year to 205,720.
The hardest hit model in the top 50 was the Ford Focus compact hatchback, which had a 45 percent sales decline, leaving it in 33rd place overall.
The Ford Fiesta small hatchback was next with a drop of 47 percent to place it 43rd, according to Dataforce.
The VW Passat midsize sedan was also badly hit, with a drop of 28 percent.
It's likely that demand for the Golf was also hit by sales of the VW ID3, ID4 and other compact-sized VW Group electric vehicles, LMC's Chan said.
“There is an argument that VW prioritized limited components to EV launches where possible to help them reach their CO2 target,” he said.
VW Group announced late last month it beat its 2021 European CO2 emissions target, helped by its EV push.
The group, which includes the VW, Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat brands, had average CO2 emissions of 118.5 grams per km last year, which was 2 percent below its required level for its new passenger car fleet in the EU.
The ID4 finished No. 41 in December with sales of 6,805, while the ID3 was 48th with a volume of 5,906 as VW and other brands pushed sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids in the final month of 2021 to ensure they met their EU targets and avoided fines.
Berlin-based analyst Matthias Schmidt's analysis of car sales in Western Europe found that EVs outsold diesels for the first time in December.