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Indicator Assessment

New registrations of electric vehicles in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-108-en
  Also known as: TERM 034
Published 03 Dec 2020 Last modified 03 Dec 2020
7 min read

The uptake of electric vehicles in Europe is increasing, in line with the EU’s policy objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport. However, market penetration remains relatively low. In 2019, electric car registrations were close to 550 000 units, having reached 300 000 units in 2018. This represents an increase from 2 to 3.5 % of total car registrations. The uptake of electric vans also increased, from 0.8 % of total registrations in 2018 to 1.3 % in 2019. Battery electric vehicles, rather than plug-in hybrid, accounted for the majority of electric vehicle registrations in 2019 for cars and vans.

Electric cars registered in the EU-27, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom

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The transport sector is the largest contributor to EU greenhouse gas emissions; therefore, reducing transport emissions is key to meeting emission reduction and climate change mitigation targets.

EU legislation sets targets to cut CO2 emissions from cars by 37.5 % and vans by 31 % by 2030 (EEA, 2019; EU, 2019). An increase in the uptake of electric vehicles could contribute to achieving these goals.

Electric cars — battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) — are gradually penetrating the EU market. However, despite a steady increase in the number of new electric car registrations annually, from 700 units in 2010 to about 550 000 units in 2019, they still account for a market share of only 3.5 % of newly registered passenger vehicles.

BEVs accounted for 2 % of total new car registrations in 2019, representing around two thirds of electric car sales, while PHEVs represented 1 %. There was a notable increase in new BEV registrations between 2018 and 2019, of 129 %, which can be partly explained by the inclusion of Norway in the data set in 2019, a country that registered around 60 000 BEVs that year.

The average mass of a BEV increased from 1 200 kg in 2010 to 1 700 kg in 2019, while average energy consumption decreased from 264  Wh/km to 150 Wh/km, indicating that BEVs have become more efficient. PHEVs have become slightly heavier (increasing from 1 580 kg to 1 880 kg from 2010 to 2019), but their energy consumption has remained constant.

In addition to the 550 000 electric cars, more than 20 000 electric vans were sold in 2019, representing 1.3 % of the market share and an increase of around 0.5 percentage points from 2018. The majority of electric vans sold were BEVs.

Non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles represented 4 % of new registrations in 2019. These vehicles combine a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric propulsion system but are exclusively fuelled by conventional fuels. They are not included in the electric vehicle data presented.

Further growth in Europe’s electric vehicle fleet could help the EU meet emission reduction targets and ensure progress towards its long-term strategy of being climate neutral by 2050 (EC, 2020).

Newly registered electric cars by country

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In 2019, the share of electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) in national new car registrations increased in all countries (EU 27, IS, NO, UK) except Malta compared with 2018. The highest shares were found in Norway (56 %), Iceland (19 %), the Netherlands (16 %) and Sweden (12 %).

Germany, Norway and the Netherlands accounted for about 50 % of BEV registrations, with the numbers almost doubling in Germany and tripling in the Netherlands compared with 2018. In Norway, a frontrunner for electric vehicle sales, BEVs accounted for 42 % of new car sales in 2019, increasing from 30 % in 2018. In other European countries, including Italy and Spain, the percentage of BEVs remained below 1 % of the total fleet. PHEV sales were highest in Finland (76 %), Sweden and the United Kingdom (both 61 %).

The leading countries in electric mobility offer financial incentives such as tax reductions and exemptions for electric vehicles, designed to make the costs comparable to those of conventional vehicles. Other incentives, such as allowing the use of bus lanes, are also offered (EEA, 2018).

Supporting information

Indicator definition

This indicator provides information on electric vehicle numbers, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the total vehicle fleet. Two types of electric 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 charged at 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 can support the electric motor when higher operating power is required or when battery charge is low.

Units

Number of vehicles


 

Policy context and targets

Context description

Transport represents almost a quarter of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities. Since 2009, EU legislation has set mandatory emission targets for new cars and, since 2011, for new vans. These regulations have resulted in the gradual introduction and promotion of more fuel-efficient, less polluting vehicles. 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.

New registrations of alternative-fuel vehicles are an indirect indication of the level of improvement in road-transport fuel efficiency and pollutant emissions. The overall objective of this specific indicator is to monitor the penetration of electric vehicles in the market and, hence, to be able to estimate progress towards environmental targets.

Targets

No target sets until 2025.

The specific CO2 emission target of a manufacturer (Regulation (EU) 2019/631) will be relaxed if its share of zero or low emitting vehicles registered in a given year exceeds the  15% from 2025 on and 35% from 2030 on.  Please see also indicator TERM017 

Related policy documents

  • Regulation (EU) 2019/631
    Regulation (EU) 2019/631 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 is setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 443/2009 and (EU) No 510/2011.
 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

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

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

Not available.

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty in the dataset

Rationale uncertainty

Not available.

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: State
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 info@eea.europa.eu

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