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Sales of zero- and low-emission cars highly unbalanced across EU, alerts auto industry

29 October 2019
by ACEA -- last modified 29 October 2019

Sales of alternatively-powered vehicles are following a highly uneven pattern across EU member states, according to new findings from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).


Indeed, the consumer uptake of battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric passenger cars, as well as those fuelled by natural gas or hydrogen, differs strongly from country to country as a recent report points out.

"Although the average EU market share of alternatively-powered vehicles is going up, the huge discrepancies across Europe are extremely worrisome," stated ACEA Director General, Eric-Mark Huitema. "As we push ahead in the transition to zero-emission mobility, we need to ensure that no countries and no citizens are left behind."

For instance, the number of battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids (electrically-chargeable vehicles, or ECVs) sold last year ranged from just 93 cars in Latvia (0.6% market share) to 67,504 in Germany (2% market share), ACEA's data shows.

This picture is very representative, as the consumer uptake of electrically-chargeable cars is particularly low in Central and Eastern Europe, with Poland for instance selling hardly any (0.2% of total passenger car sales). An ECV market share of more than 1.5% is something that is exclusive to Western European countries.

When it comes to electrically-chargeable vehicles, the ACEA report highlights not only an east-west divide, but also a marked north-south distinction. Indeed, electric cars represent less than 1% of total sales in Italy and Spain – the third and fourth largest EU economies respectively.

Clearly, the uptake of electrically-chargeable cars is correlated to a country's standard of living, with half of all EU member states having a market share lower than 1%. In only four EU countries electrically-chargeable vehicles make up more than 2.5% of the car market.

Huitema: "Mobility must remain affordable for all layers of society. That is why we are calling on governments to put in place more meaningful and sustainable incentive schemes to stimulate sales EU-wide."

ACEA's report also shows that sales of cars running on natural gas are mainly concentrated in Italy and Germany (74% of the EU total), and that fuel-cell cars account for a negligible share of total EU passenger car sales for the time being.

If the extremely ambitious 2025 and 2030 CO2 targets set by the EU are to be achieved, sales of all types of alternatively-powered vehicles will have to pick up rapidly in all member states.

Top 5: MOST ECVs sold (market share) Top 5: LEAST ECVs sold (market share)
  1. Germany: 67,504 (2.0%)
  2. United Kingdom: 59,911 (2.5%)
  3. France: 45,587 (2.1%)
  4. Netherlands: 29,695 (6.7%)
  5. Sweden: 28,327 (8.0%)
  1. Latvia: 93 (0.6%)
  2. Estonia: 118 (0.5%)
  3. Lithuania: 143 (0.4%)
  4. Bulgaria: 220 (0.6%)
  5. Slovakia: 293 (0.3%)
Top 5: MOST HEVs sold (market share) Top 5: LEAST HEVs sold (market share)
  1. Germany: 98,816 (2.8%)
  2. France: 91,815 (4.6%)
  3. Italy: 81,892 (3.2%)
  4. United Kingdom: 81,323 (4.0%)
  5. Spain: 75,768 (6.2%)
  1. Latvia: 672 (5.5%)
  2. Slovenia: 1,459 (4.7%)
  3. Estonia: 1,566 (4.3%)
  4. Bulgaria: 1,600 (4.3%)
  5. Lithuania: 2,351 (4.1%)
Top 5: MOST FCEVs sold (market share)
  1. Germany: 154 (0%)
  2. United Kingdom: 36 (0%)
  3. France: 36 (0%)
  4. Netherlands: 13 (0%)
  5. Belgium: 8 (0%)

Top 5: MOST NGVs sold (market share)
  1. Italy: 37,406 (2%)
  2. Germany: 10,804 (0.3%)
  3. Belgium: 3,987 (0.7%)
  4. Spain: 3,754 (0.3%)
  5. Sweden: 3,235 (0.9%)

ACEA represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus manufacturers: BMW Group, CNH Industrial, DAF Trucks, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, PSA Group, Renault Group, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, and Volvo Group.

European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA)
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