BEV sales at new record high in EU with 12% share
Though the growth has become less explosive, sales of battery-powered cars reached a new peak in 2022. According to the registration data from the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), registrations grew by a 3.0-percentage point on a year-to-year basis, despite an unfavorable climate due to inflation, the energy crisis, and supply chain shortages.
Overall, the European car market fell to a level comparable to 1993, pushed downward by the logistical hiccups hampering output at European factories. Those shortages were still a side-effect of the corona pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Despite those adverse conditions, the share of electric vehicles reached more than 1.1 million vehicles, private and true fleet sales combined. In comparison to 2021, this represents a rise of nearly one-third. BEVs now make up 12.1% of total sales (against 9.1% in 2021 and as low as 1.9% in 2019).
The figures also show regional differences triggered by a change in EV incentives. Germany’s decision to lower subsidies from 6,000 to 4,500 euros as of the beginning of 2023 (and to 3,000 euros in 2024) has led to a last quarter rush on battery-powered cars. Over the year, the BEV share of Europe’s largest car market grew by a staggering 66.1%.
Also, in Sweden and Belgium, the EV market grew considerably. Those two countries, in particular, sold more electric cars each in absolute numbers than Norway, which is still comfortably on the road toward its goal of banning sales of combustion-engined models by 2025. In the Scandinavian Walhalla for zero-emission driving, four out of five new cars sold are now battery-powered.
In Italy, Europe’s number four market, BEVs are the surprise losers, dropping by more than a quarter compared to the year before (-26.9%). The company showed exponential growth for electric cars in the years before. The demise is partly due to a general contraction of the market. But Italy’s appetite for small affordable cars and governmental hesitations on the launch of a fiscal package for EVs are also causes. Italy is also home to Europe’s largest market for natural gas vehicles. Because of the skyrocketing gas prices, that category collapsed by no less than 71.3%. Also in the rest of Europe it has almost withered completely with a market share of 0.4%.
Other fuel types
In total, electrified cars (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric) represented 44.1% of European registrations in 2022, outperforming the market for petrol cars (36.4%). Especially hybrid versions have increased their share (+8.6%), while plug-in hybrids stalled at +1.2% (864,103 units). An exception is the German market, where sales of PHEVs have soared by 73.5% to 146,446 units. That rush can be explained by the German government completely ending support for plug-in hybrids as of the 1st of January, 2023.
Full-year diesel car registrations were down by 19.7%, but combined with their counterparts running solely on petrol; conventional fuel types still make up half of the European market.
A call for more infrastructure
Commenting on EU market trends in a press conference, ACEA president and CEO of the Renault Group, Luca de Meo, pointed out the poor rate of charging infrastructure installment. In Europe, only 2,000 charging points are installed weekly, while 14,000 are needed, according to the industry.
De Meo added that the sector was investing 250 million euros in electrification but that the challenge was to democratize the technology since it is currently predominantly in the hands of affluent customers and corporations. He urged EU leaders to show more ambition to avoid losing ground to other world regions.