Indicator Assessment

Electric vehicles as a proportion of the total fleet

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-108-en
  Also known as: TERM 034
Created 13 Aug 2019 Published 05 Dec 2019 Last modified 19 Oct 2020
10 min read
  • In 2018, sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV) continued to increase.  However, the combined share of PHEVs and BEVs in all car sales remained low reaching 2 % in 2018 compared with 1.5 % in 2017. 
  • With around 150 000 registrations, sales of BEVs increased by 50 % compared with 2017. Around 145 000 PHEVs were registered in 2018, a 15 % increase compared with 2017.
  • The combined shares of PHEV and BEV sales were highest in Iceland (15 %), Sweden (8.4 %) and the Netherlands (6.8 %). 

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 (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Despite their small numbers (about 300 000) and their small market share (about 2.0 % of new registered passenger vehicles), the number of new electric car registrations in the EU has been increasing steadily over the last few years.

Registration of BEVs increased by 50 % in 2018 compared with 2017, one of the biggest increases since 2008. Registrations of BEVs in the EU-28 have increased in the last 7 years from around 700 in 2010 to around 150 000 in 2018. BEVs comprised 1 % of total new passenger car registrations in the EU-28 and Iceland in 2018. Germany (around 34 300 vehicles), France (more than 32 700 vehicles) and the Netherlands (around 24 200 vehicles) are the countries where absolute numbers are highest. 

Sales of PHEVs increased by 15 % in 2018 compared with 2017 and PHEVs comprised 1 % of total new passenger car registrations in the EU-28 in 2017. The United Kingdom tops the rankings with 44 334 PHEVs sold in 2018, followed by Germany with 26 600 and Sweden with 21 750. 

Outside the EU, Norway appears as a frontrunner for the deployment of electric vehicles: almost half of all new cars sold in Norway during 2018 were electric (including PHEVs and BEVs). 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 are now an increasing number of electric and plug-in hybrid van models available on the EU market. Registrations of such vehicles represents 0.8 % of total EU van sales. 

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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