Electric vehicles as a proportion of the total fleet

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-108-en
Also known as: TERM 034
expired Created 02 Dec 2014 Published 09 Mar 2016 Last modified 01 Dec 2016
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Compared with 2013, sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in 2014 increased by more than 50 %, continuing an upward trend since 2008.  Nevertheless, electric vehicles (EVs) continue to  constitute only a very small fraction of new vehicle registrations in the EU‑28 . According to the most recent estimates, the share of alternative fuel passenger cars in the total fleet has remained constantly around 5 % over the last five years, with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars playing a dominant role. The number of  electric vehicles (EVs) has grown, but represents only a minor proportion (0.07 %) of total passenger car fleet numbers.

Key messages

  • Compared with 2013, sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in 2014 increased by more than 50 %, continuing an upward trend since 2008. Nevertheless, electric vehicles (EVs) continue to constitute only a very small fraction of new vehicle registrations in the EU‑28.
  • According to the most recent estimates, the share of alternative fuel passenger cars in the total fleet has remained constantly around 5 % over the last five years, with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars playing a dominant role. The number of electric vehicles (EVs) has grown, but represents only a minor proportion (0.07 %) of total passenger car fleet numbers.

Are alternative-fuel powered vehicles increasing as a proprotion of the total vehicle fleet?

New registrations of alternative fuel passenger cars

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Share of alternative fuel passenger cars in the total passenger car fleet

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Share of alternative fuel vehicles in the total fleet

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The number of electric cars in Europe is increasing due to factors such as financial incentives, increased public acceptability and market availability. The cars in question may be 'pure' battery EVs (BEVs), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) or EVs with range extender engines.

Sales of BEVs increased by more than 50 % in 2014, compared with 2013, continuing an upward trend since 2008. Sales were greatest in France where more than 10 000 BEVs were sold), followed by Germany with 8 500 sales. A large number of EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) offer financial incentives, such as tax reductions and exemptions, for electrically chargeable vehicles. Other measures include, for example, allowing EVs to use bus lanes. Nevertheless, EVs continue to constitute only a very small fraction of new registrations in the EU‑28 (0.3 %) compared with, for instance, liquefied petroleum gas (1.1 %). Hybrid vehicles are usually not distinguished from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles in official statistics, so their numbers can only be estimated. While in 2001 only two hybrid vehicle models were offered in the EU, and only about 2 000 were sold, more than 30 hybrid models available, and more than 130 000 are sold. However, hybrid vehicles still only make up some 0.5 % of new vehicle sales in the EU.

Among non-EU EEA countries, Norway is the leading market for EVs in terms of market share. Almost 14 % of new cars sold in Norway during the first half of 2014, were electric (including PHEVs and BEVs).

LPG cars dominate the alternative fuel passenger car fleet. The number of LPG passenger cars almost doubled between 2005 and 2014, reaching 10 million vehicles in 2014. Poland and Italy are the leading countries with 2.6 million and 2.4 million cars respectively. LPG cars account for about 4.2 % of the overall passenger car fleet in the EEA-33. This percentage has remained rather constant over the last five years. Registrations of new LPG passenger cars reached a peak in 2009, when a figure of 3.6 % of the total number of new registrations boosted the total percentage of new registrations of alternative fueled cars to 3.75% of the total number of new registrations. A major drop in new LPG car registrations was observed in 2011, when registrations dropped to 0.7 % of total new passenger car registrations due to changes in economic incentive schemes.

The number of natural gas (NG) passenger cars almost tripled between 2005 and 2014. At 1.2 %, they represent a small percentage of the total passenger car fleet. The number of NG passenger cars is only significant in Italy (about one million).

LPG has approximately 80 % of the energy content of petrol per litre, while for compressed or liquid natural gas, the volumetric energy content of NG ranges from 5 to 1.8 times less than petrol. Despite this reduced energy content, both alternatives are considered to be promising fuels for the future, mainly due to their widespread availability, alternative energy pathway to oil that they offer and the low CO2 yield per unit of energy delivered.

At about 1.6 % of the total fleet of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) and 1.8 % of buses, the percentage of alternative fuel LCVs and buses is lower than that of passenger cars.

NG buses have shown an increasing trend over the years, although in 2014, they accounted for less than 1 % of the total bus fleet. The numbers of LPG and electric (mainly trolley) buses are much lower and have remained rather constant over the last 4-5 years. France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Turkey are the only countries with significant numbers (above 600) of NG buses.

Numbers of LPG LCVs are increasing, but they still only account for some 1 % of the total LCV fleet, whereas at about 0.5%, the number of NG LCVs is much smaller. Poland is the only country with a significant number of LPG LCVs (about 200 000), while Italy has the highest number of NG LCVs (about 91 000). The registration of new alternative fuel LCVs remains low, with figures slightly above 1.2 % between 2012 and 2014.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

This indicator measures electric vehicles as a proportion of the total vehicle fleet.  two types of elective vehicles are included in the indicator: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEVs). BEVs are powered solely by an electric motor, using electricity stored in an on-board battery. The battery must be regularly charged, typically by plugging in the vehicle to a charging point connected to the local electricity grid.  PHEVs a re powered by an electric motor and an internal combustion engine designed to work either together or separately. The on-board battery can be charged from the grid, and the combustion engine supports the electric motor when higher operating power is required or when the battery's state of charge is low.

 

Units

The units used in this indicator are the total number of passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and buses by alternative fuel type (BEV and PHEV).


Policy context and targets

Context description

A number of policies have been adopted that contribute to meeting targets set at EU level. This includes the 20-20-20 policy package, which came into force in 2009. This package sets two targets: an overarching 20 % cut in greenhouse gas emissions in Europe below 1990 levels by 2020; and a 60 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transport below 1990 levels by 2050, as set out in the 2011 Transport White Paper. 

The CO2 emission targets for new cars and vans contribute to meeting these two targetsRegulation No 443/2009 sets a CO2 'specific emission' target of 130 grams per kilometre (g/km) by 2015 for new passenger cars sold in the EU. A target of 95 g/km has been set for 2020. Specific targets for vans have also been introduced in Regulation No 510/2011. The first target level (175 g/km) has been phased in since 2014 and will be reached in 2017, and a second target level (147 g/km) should be reached in 2020.

In November 2017, the European Commission presented a new legislative proposal for new CO2 emission standards for passenger cars and vans in the EU for the period after 2020. It has been submitted to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions for further consideration under the ordinary legislative procedure.

Targets

Currently, there are no specific objectives or targets related to the number of different types of alternative fuel vehicles as a proportion of the total vehicle fleet. Policy objectives are rather set with respect to the environmental performance of newly registered passenger cars and vans.

Related policy documents

  • REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 443/2009
    Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
    REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Alternative-fuel vehicles (BEVs and PHEVS) as a proportion of the total vehicle fleet for each vehicle type (passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, buses) is calculated by dividing the number of alternative fuel vehicles by the total fleet for each vehicle type.

Methodology for gap filling

Data gaps filling is not necessary

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Not available.

Data sets uncertainty

2017 data are provisional. 

Rationale uncertainty

Not available.

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

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DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello

EEA Management Plan

2015 1.1.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100