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Published on November 4th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Auto Association: European Electric Vehicle Market Is Highly Fragmented, Dependent Upon High-GDP Countries

November 4th, 2017 by  

The plug-in electric vehicle market in Europe is highly fragmented and dependent upon relativity high market shares in countries with high income (high GDPs), especially those with good incentives on offer, according to a new report from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).

Plug-in electric vehicle market shares in countries with GDPs per capita under €17,000 are essentially zero, the ACEA notes — suggesting that if European Union goals relating to transport sector greenhouse gas emissions and electric vehicles are to be achieved, then big changes will be needed.

As a result of the new findings, the ACEA is now calling for “an ambitious but more realistic approach to the electrification of Europe’s car fleet,” this just ahead of the European Commission’s release next week of its new proposals for post-2021 carbon dioxide emissions targets for cars and light-duty commercial vans and trucks.

“Our data demonstrates that, even though it is growing, the European market for ECVs remains extremely patchy, which makes it difficult to envisage anything like an EU-wide mandate or crediting system,” explained ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert.

“Many people take the Norwegian market as a benchmark. But just like its €64,000 GDP, more than twice the EU average, Norway’s ECV share of 29% is an exception in Europe. Nobody looks at Greece for instance, where only 32 electrically-chargeable cars were sold last year,” Jonnaert continued. “This should be a wake-up call for policy makers. Future decarbonisation measures should be inclusive, rather than assuming that all countries are in the same position as a handful of advanced ECV markets.”

The point here is largely that high costs and a lack of charging infrastructure in the poorer parts of Europe make increased electric vehicle uptake in the countries in question difficult to achieve. What is not highlighted is that long-range and semi-affordable electric cars are just hitting the market, and battery prices keep dropping.

ACEA has published some interactive maps showing the association between EV uptake and GDP and EV uptake and incentives in Europe.

“Even though all manufacturers are expanding their portfolios of electric vehicles, we unfortunately see that market penetration of these vehicles is still very low and very fragmented across the EU,” Jonnaert stated. “Consumers looking for an alternative to diesel now often opt for petrol vehicles or hybrid ones, but aren’t yet making the switch to electrically-chargeable cars on a large scale.”

“In other words, the final product alone — no matter how good it is — is not sufficient to create demand. As well as harmonised and coherent consumer incentives to stimulate sales, we need more investments in recharging and refuelling infrastructure in all EU member states, before we can expect consumers throughout the EU to really embrace alternatively-powered vehicles.” Well, yes, that is important, but it’s ignoring the difference between electric cars from the past few years and electric cars just now arriving on the market.

None of these findings tell us anything truly new, but they do reiterate the reality that the current approach to boosting electric vehicle sales in Europe seem to be falling flat — with high sales only truly present in countries that have been putting work into the market for quite a while, and that have the resources to do so (Norway being the prime example).


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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