Electric car subsidies in Europe have helped drive a surge in electric car sales, to the point where the European market now exceeds that of China.
According to European auto market analyst Matthias Schmidt, the July edition of European Electric Car Report shows that during the opening 7 months of 2020 there were more plug-in electric car sales in Western Europe than in China, which had hitherto been considered the world’s largest electric car market by volume.
This picture is now changing. While China electric car sales have taken a downturn since mid-2019 as the state department reduced electric vehicle subsidies, many Western European countries have been increasing them.
Auto sales at large are falling, a situation worsened by coronavirus, and both France and Germany have put electric vehicles at the centre of multi-billion-euro economic recovery plans.
China has since extended its subsidies, which has seen some recovery in its electric vehicle market, as reported by The Driven on Wednesday, but CAAM still expects for 10% drop in EV sales for 2020 in China compared to 2019.
According to Schmidt, the number of battery electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) sales in the West European passenger car market, which includes original EU member states plus EFTA member states Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, achieved a commendable 500,000 electric vehicles sold in the first 7 months of 2020.
Of these, 269,000 were battery electric vehicles, accounting for 53.8 percent of the plug-in electric market. But plug-in hybrid sales are on the rise again, says Schmidt, noting that in July more PHEVs were sold than BEVs..
However, according to data supplied by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), 378,000 battery electric vehicles were sold in China in the first 7 months of 2020. Overall, 486,000 plug in electric vehicles were sold in China in that period.
Schmidt notes that the increase in sales in Western Europe means that the region is on target to achieve 1 million electric vehicle sales with a large push expected in the second half 2020 to meet stricter CO2 compliance regulations.
It is expected that increased availability of Tesla electric cars as well as the release of the Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatch, which has been delayed by software issues, will drive this.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.