Indicator Assessment

Electric vehicles as a proportion of the total fleet

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-108-en
  Also known as: TERM 034
Published 11 Jun 2018 Last modified 11 May 2021
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  • Compared with 2016, sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the EU-28 increased by 51 % in 2017, the highest increase since 2008. Nevertheless, BEVs continue to constitute only a very small fraction of new vehicle registrations.
  • Around 224 000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) were registered in 2017, a 35 % increase compared with 2016.
  • The largest number of registrations was recorded in France (more than 26 110 vehicles), Germany (more than 24 350 vehicles) and the UK (more than 13 580 vehicles). Combined, the relative share of PHEV and BEV sales was highest in Sweden, Belgium and Finland, with shares of 5.5 %, 2.7 % and 2.6  % respectively of national car sales in 2017.

New electric vehicles in the EU-28


New electric vehicles by country


Electric cars are slowly penetrating the EU market. These include battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Despite their small numbers (about 321 000) and their small market share (about 1.5 % of new registered passenger vehicles), the number of new electric car registrations in the EU has been increasing steadily over the last few years.

Sales of BEVs increased by 51 % in 2017 compared with 2016, the biggest increase since 2008. BEVs comprised 0.6 % of total new passenger car registrations in the EU-28 in 2017. Registrations of BEVs in the EU-28 have increased in the last 7 years from around 700 in 2010 to around 97 000 in 2017. France (more than 26 100 vehicles), Germany (around 23 400 vehicles) and the United Kingdom (almost 13 600 vehicles) are the countries in which the increase in absolute numbers has been the highest in recent years. An increase in registrations of BEVs in 2017 was mainly a result of sales in Germany (+ 12 000) France (+ 8 500 ) and the Netherlands (+ 5 200). 

Sales of PHEVs increased by 35 % in 2017 compared with 2016 and PHEVs comprised 0.8 % of total new passenger car registrations in the EU-28 in 2017. The United Kingdom tops the rankings with 35 175 PHEVs sold in 2017, followed by Germany with 28 618 and Sweden with 15 947. 

Outside the EU, almost one third of all new cars sold in Norway during 2017 were electric (including PHEVs and BEVs). Among EEA member countries, this makes Norway a leading market for electric vehicles in terms of market share. Most countries in Europe offer financial incentives such as tax reductions and exemptions for electrically charging vehicles. Such incentives can include, for example, exemptions from one-off purchase tax (making the cost comparable with conventional vehicles), VAT exemption, use of bus lanes etc.

There is now an increasing number of electric and plug-in hybrid van models available on the EU market. Registrations of such vehicles increased by 32 % in 2017, compared with 2016, representing 0.8 % of total EU van sales. However, this is significantly lower than the share of registrations of electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars in the same year.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

This indicator measures electric vehicles as a proportion of the total vehicle fleet. Two types of elective vehicle are included in the indicator: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (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  the vehicle into a charging point connected to the local electricity grid. PHEVs are 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 battery charge is low.



The units used in this indicator are the total number and percentage of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles 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.


Currently, there are no specific objectives or targets related to the number of different types of alternative fuel vehicle 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 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 for indicator calculation

The number of 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 gap filling is not necessary

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

Not available.

Data sets uncertainty

2018 data are provisional. 

Rationale uncertainty

Not available.

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 034
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled once per year
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage





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