New registrations of electric vehicles in Europe

2021 saw a significant increase in the uptake of electric cars and vans in the EU-27. Electric car registrations for the year were close to 1,729,000, up from 1,061,000 in 2020. This represents an increase from 10.7% to 17.8% in the share of total new car registrations in just 1 year. The uptake of electric vans also increased, from 2.1% of total new registrations in 2020 to 3.1% in 2021. The number of battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars are comparable in 2021, while battery electric vehicles accounted for the majority of electric van registrations in 2021.

Published: ‒ 25min read

The transport sector is among the largest contributors to EU greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, reducing transport emissions is key to meeting the EU’s climate neutrality objectives.

Recently proposed legislation sets targets to cut CO2 emissions from cars by 55% and vans by 50% by 2030. It also proposes to completely cut emissions from cars and vans by 2035. A significant increase in the uptake of electric vehicles will be needed to achieve these goals.

Electric cars, which include battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), are gradually penetrating the EU market. There has been a steady increase in the number of new electric car registrations annually, from 600 in 2010 to about 1,061,000 units in 2020, when they accounted for 11% of new registrations. In 2021, electric car registrations surged, accounting for almost 18% of newly registered passenger cars.

BEVs accounted for 9.0% of total new car registrations in 2021, while PHEVs represented 8.8%.

The mass of a BEV stabilised over the last 4 years to an average of 1,600-1,700kg; while PHEVs are slightly heavier, with an average mass of around 1,900kg. In 2021, the average energy consumption of BEVs and PHEVs was around 166kWh/km and 175 kWh/km, respectively. In electric mode, the two types can travel 371km (BEVs)and 58km (PHEVs), respectively.

In 2021 almost 38,000 electric vans were sold in the EU-27, representing 3.1% of the market share and an increase of around 1.0 percentage point from 2020. The majority of electric vans sold were BEVs.

Further growth in Europe’s electric vehicle fleet could help the EU meet emissions reduction targets and ensure progress towards its 2050 objective of being climate neutral.

Non plug-in hybrid electric cars represented 19% of new registrations in 2021, a 7 percentage point increase since 2020. 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 cars data presented.

In 2021, the share of electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) in national new car registrations increased in all countries (EU-27, Iceland, Norway) compared with 2020. The highest shares were found in Norway (86%), Iceland (64%), Sweden (46%) and Denmark (35%).

Germany, France and Norway accounted for about 63% of BEV registrations (in the EU-27 and non-EU EEA countries). In Norway, the country where the highest number of electric cars was registered in 2021, BEVs accounted for 65% of new car sales that year. In some other European countries, however, the percentage of BEV registrations remained around 1% of the total fleet (Cyprus, Poland, Czechia and Slovakia). PHEV percentage sales were highest in Iceland (36%), Sweden (25%) and Norway (22%).

The leading countries in electric mobility offered, over the years, financial incentives such as tax reductions and exemptions for electric vehicles, designed to stimulate an increased uptake of these vehicles. More countries are increasing the number of incentives for electric mobility.

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