European Electric Car Market Passes China’s For First Time in Five Years
Raji Sahota posted on September 22, 2020 |
Since 2015, China has been leading the electric car market - until now.
(Stock photo.)
(Stock photo.)

A new report reveals that the European electric car market has greatly surpassed that of China.

According to the European Electric Car Report industry publication, people across Western Europe bought over half a million electric cars during the first eight months of 2020. Due to government, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and fiscal subsidies, there was a new record set for electric vehicle (EV) purchases in July. 

Since 2019, OEMs have received credits for each EV depending on the vehicle’s make, as well as its maximum speed, energy consumption, weight, and range. Each manufacturer must meet its EV targets or pay a financial penalty.

There are two types of EVs: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs use rechargeable battery packs instead of internal combustion engines. They have high initial costs but lower operational energy costs due to their higher energy conversion efficiency compared to traditional vehicles. PHEVs have a rechargeable battery as well as an on-board engine and generator. They do not require a lot of fuel and so have lower operational energy costs, without compromising the vehicle’s range.

Electric vehicle sales and share of new passenger vehicle sales in European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries, 2010–2019. (Image courtesy of the International Council on Clean Transportation.)
Electric vehicle sales and share of new passenger vehicle sales in European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries, 2010–2019. (Image courtesy of the International Council on Clean Transportation.)

In the first eight months of 2020, citizens in Western EU countries, the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland registered 597,000 units, with a total of 318,000 BEV units and 279,000 PHEV units.   

During the opening 8 months of 2020, the West European market continued to outpace China’s market. (Image courtesy of Engineering.com.)
During the opening 8 months of 2020, the West European market continued to outpace China’s market. (Image courtesy of Engineering.com.)

BEVs recorded their fourth-highest monthly volume at more than 6 percent monthly sales, with about 53,000 pure BEVs sold. Germany, France, and the UK registered about 66 percent of all July BEVs. 

German manufacturers produced over 30,000 PHEV sales, triple the amount compared to the same period in 2019.  

Electric vehicles are gaining popularity across Europe because of their low cost of production and an increasing charging infrastructure across the region, allowing Western Europe to reach its target of 1 million units sold in 2020.

The European Union (EU) has also created CO2 emission standards as well as policies at the state and municipal levels. EU countries have also invested in decreasing emissions in the transportation sector with new charging infrastructure and electric vehicles. 

Due to the CO2 standards, benefits for auto manufacturers, and new technology, the sale of EVs is anticipated to continue to grow. In fact, the region is expected to see volumes above 100,000 units in September, since Europe no longer supplies China with Teslas as China began its production earlier this year. 

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), BEV and PHEV car sales reached 486,000 units during the same seven-month period, with a total of 332,000 personal BEVs and  105,000 personal PHEVs, as well as 46,000 commercial BEVs and 3,000 commercial PHEVs.   

Sales of new energy vehicles in August 2020. (Image courtesy of CAAM.)
Sales of new energy vehicles in August 2020. (Image courtesy of CAAM.)

The unusually low numbers may be due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as consumers stay indoors and avoid large purchases, especially in the auto sector. 

China has placed government subsidies and extended them to help the EV market. Though it has seen some improvements, CAAM expects a 10 percent decrease in sales for 2020 compared to 2019.

With subsidies encouraging European citizens to buy EVs, the European electric car market is leading worldwide for the first time in five years. 

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