Sales of plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles are growing rapidly across Europe
Sales of plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles are growing rapidly across Europe

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) accounted for 10.5% of all new car registrations in the European Union in 2020, compared to a 3.0% market share the year before.

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), nearly one in six passenger cars registered in the European Union was either a battery electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid, representing 16.5% of the market in that time.

The ACEA states that stimulus packages introduced by governments to boost demand, following the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on car sales, sought to stimulate alternatively-powered vehicles in particular, further driving demand for low and zero-emission cars.

With more new electrified models coming to market, choice available to consumers in this market is also at an all time high.

Although the overall decline of 3 million units in car registrations as a result of COVID-19 hit diesel and petrol-powered vehicles the hardest, conventional fuel types still dominated EU car sales in terms of market share in 2020, covering 75.5% of the new car market.

From October to December 2020, sales of diesel and petrol cars both saw significant losses. The number of diesel vehicles registered in the EU fell by 23.0% to 730,837 units, with the majority of EU markets posting declines. As a result, diesel’s share of the car market shrank from 30.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 25.4% during the same period in 2020 – bringing the full-year market share of diesel down to 28%.

Demand for petrol cars saw an even bigger drop (-33.7%), going from over 1.7 million units in 2019 to 1.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2020. This resulted in an EU-wide market share of 40.6%, down from 56.6% in the last quarter of 2019.

Except for Ireland, all EU markets recorded declines in registrations of petrol cars during this three-month period.

However overall in 2020, petrol still accounted for almost half (47.5%) of total EU passenger car sales.

During the fourth quarter, registrations of electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) in the EU jumped from 130,992 units in 2019 to almost half a million (+262.8%), surpassing hybrid electric cars in sales volume for the first time. This strong increase in demand was largely driven by government stimuli for low and zero-emission vehicles, with some of the biggest gains seen in countries with the most generous incentives.

In Germany, for example, BEV registrations increased by over 500% in the last quarter of 2020.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) saw an equally impressive increase during the fourth quarter, with sales doubling (+104.7%) from 212,612 units in 2019 to 435,260 last year, accounting for 15.1% of the EU car market.