16 fév 22

Rapid electrification continues, but east-west gap persists

In case you were wondering: Europe’s true fleets in 2021 continued the pace of rapid electrification set in 2020. How fast exactly? Dataforce has the figures. They show that EVs represented more than 30% of true fleet sales last year – but that the gap between the fast-forwarding west and the slow-moving east shows no sign of closing. 

The first year of the pandemic marked a turning point for EVs. At the start of 2020, many feared the viral emergency would push electrification to the bottom of the corporate agenda. Actually, and for various reasons, quite the opposite happened. 

10% to 20% to 30%

In 2019, all EV types (BEVs, PHEVs and mild hybrids) made up 10.1% of overall true fleet sales across 15 key European markets monitored by Dataforce. As it turns out, that figure jumped up by just over 10 percentage points in 2020, to 20.8%. According to the most recent annual figures, that rapid pace continues, with EV sales rising another 10 percentage points in 2021, to 30.9%.

The electrification trend is happening irrespective of the up-and-down movement of true fleet sales themselves – down 18.6% in the first pandemic year, but up again by 2.6% in 2021, to just under 3.5 million. To put everything in the right perspective, here’s how the four main motorisations evolved over the past two years:

  • Diesel continued to decline, both in absolute terms (from 1.9 million in 2019 to just over 1 million last year) and in relative terms (45.8% market share in 2019 to 30.1% in 2021).
  • Following a slump in 2020, petrol rebounded from 1.29 million back to 1.32 million last year. But in relative terms, it merely remained stationary, at about 38%.
  • BEVs increased from nearly 150,000 in 2019 (and 3.6% market share) to about 393,000 in 2021 (11.3%).
  • PHEVs overtook BEVs, rising from around 95,000 in 2019 (2.3%) to almost 465,000 in 2021 (13.4%). 

Norway at 83%

However, the pace of electrification varies greatly per country. On one end of the scale is – no surprises there – Norway. The Nordic country has been in the vanguard of electrification almost from the start. If anything, it solidified its position last year, with BEV sales to true fleets increasing by 36% over 2020, and PHEV sales even going up by 46.4%. It all adds up to EVs representing 83% of total fleet sales in Norway last year.

Also doing extremely well:

  • Sweden, where PHEV sales rose by 4.6%, but BEV sales shot up 74.3%, and EVs represented 55% of overall true fleet sales. 
  • The Netherlands, which saw PHEVs increase by 80.8%, but BEVs decline by 12.8%. Still, EVs made up 37% of true fleet sales.
  • Belgium, where BEVs went up by 72.3% and PHEVs by 54.9%, to a total true fleet market share for EVs of 31%.

The stark differences in the rise (and occasional decline) of BEV and PHEV sales per country is down to the specific set of purchase incentives and other fiscal stimuli offered by those countries. 

The Big Five

The overall trend, however, is clear. But where it makes the most difference, is on Europe’s Big Five markets, which together represent about three quarters of the EU’s automotive market. 

  • In Germany, BEV sales to true fleets were up 104.3% in 2021, to just under 105,000 units. PHEV sales increased 53.7% to almost 142,000 units. EVs represented 31% of true fleet sales.
  • In the UK, where BEVs shot up 71.6% to just under 106,000 and PHEVs increased 66.7% to almost 65,000, EVs represented 27% of total true fleet sales in 2021.
  • In France, PHEVs more than doubled (+107.1%) to close to 67,000 units, while BEVs rose 41.8% to just over 32,000. EVs were 20% of the true fleet total. 
  • In Italy, BEV sales to true fleets were at about 22,500 (+64.3%) in 2021, PHEV sales at around 35,000 (+202%), resulting in 18% EVs in overall true fleet sales. 
  • Despite solid increases in both BEVs (+14.5% to about 8,000) and PHEVs (+74.8% to over 21,000), Spain remains the weakest link among the Big Five, with just 12% EVs in 2021 true fleet sales.

Lagging behind

Perhaps more worryingly, the countries that were lagging behind in previous years – mainly in Eastern and Southern Europe – remain behind as their EV scores increase by far too little to catch up with more mature EV markets. Take for instance Poland. Yes, the share of EVs in true fleet sales doubled from 2020 to 2021. However, that increase was from 1% to 2%. 

The very real risk of creating a two-tier Europe when it comes to vehicle electrification can only be avoided if governments and corporates in the affected countries come together to solve the chicken-and-egg problem of electrification: too little infrastructure will keep the number of EVs down, which will keep the demand for more infrastructure low. 

While the east ponders that paradox, the west powers ahead. Marc Odinius, Managing Director of Dataforce, sees reasons to expect the rapid pace of electrification to continue: “2022 will be equally strong, especially as we see PHEVs reaching their relative maximum, and we believe that current restrictions will be vastly taken back, leaving room for growth.”

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs