BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Electric vehicles made up 8% of car sales in Europe in the first half of 2020, putting them on track to triple their market share this year, according to analysis by the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).
While the novel coronavirus pandemic has seen overall car sales plummet, sales of electric cars – which T&E defined as both battery and plug-in hybrid models – have increased.
This saw electric cars more than triple their market share in the European Economic Area (EEA), compared with the first half of last year, T&E said.
Outright sales of such vehicles are expected to roughly double this year, to one million units, it said.
T&E attributed the sales increase to tougher European Union car emissions standards, which took effect this year, and post-pandemic purchase incentives in Germany and France.
The NGO expects carmakers to meet the 2020 emissions standards, which would see electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles triple their market share in 2020 to 10% of EEA car sales.
“It is because of the EU emissions standards, but it is also thanks to many investments carmakers made last year,” report co-author Julia Poliscanova said.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said electric vehicle sales have been boosted by national support schemes to foster economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic but that this trend was not necessarily a long-term one.
“It is difficult to make any predictions on future long-term shifts in consumer behaviour from such ‘artificial’ growth driven by subsidies,” ACEA said.
T&E urged the EU to set tougher future emissions targets to ensure electric vehicles keep edging out polluting models.
Fuel-guzzling SUVs also increased their market share, to 39%, in the first half of 2020.
The European Commission has already outlined plans to further tighten car CO2 limits as part of its proposal for a tougher 2030 EU climate goal.
ACEA said policymakers needed to strengthen charging infrastructure and schemes to make zero-emissions vehicles affordable before considering tighter CO2 standards.
Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Ken Ferris