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European EV Policy & Sales Trends — Greece, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, & UK

In the latest episode of Cleantech Talk, José Pontes of EAFO and EV Volumes provided us with a thorough exploration of varying electric vehicle sales trends and the policies that have driven them in several European countries. While you can indeed listen to the podcast and get the story, José actually brought a lot of charts to the table on this one and it’s much easier to follow along on YouTube while looking at the charts. If you want to full visuals along with the commentary, here you are:

Here’s the straight podcast, as usual:

Southern Europe

The first country we tackled was Greece. This was an interesting one for me because we never cover the Greek EV market. As we got into it, I realized that the Greek market seemed to very closely follow the pattern of the Italian EV market, which we know a lot about thanks to Carlo Ombello’s monthly reports here on CleanTechnica. Here’s the short story of Greece in a bullet list and chart:

  • 2019 — plugin vehicles had 0.5% market share (0.2% BEV, 0.3% PHEV)
  • 2020 — plugin vehicles had 2.6% market share (0.8% BEV, 1.8% PHEV)
  • 2021 (YTD) — plugin vehicles had 5.4% market share (1.5% BEV, 3.9% PHEV)

Greece — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Here are Italy’s plugin vehicle stats from the past few years in a bullet list and chart:

  • 2019 — plugin vehicles had 0.9% market share (0.6% BEV, 0.3% PHEV)
  • 2020 — plugin vehicles had 4.3% market share (2.3% BEV, 2.0% PHEV)
  • 2021 (YTD) — plugin vehicles had 7.4% market share (3.1% BEV, 4.3% PHEV)

Italy — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

José added that Spain is following the same sort of trend. Here are Spain’s plugin vehicle stats from the past few years in a bullet list and chart:

  • 2019 — plugin vehicles had 1.4% market share (0.8% BEV, 0.6% PHEV)
  • 2020 — plugin vehicles had 4.9% market share (2.1% BEV, 2.8% PHEV)
  • 2021 (YTD) — plugin vehicles had 5.9% market share (1.9% BEV, 4.0% PHEV)

Spain — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

However, José adds that Greece was the most surprising market of these three to see such a large jump in plugin vehicle share.

Model Leaders

As far as the models that were a big hit in Greece, they were very different from Italy’s top plugin models. The Volvo XC40 PHEV (8.9% of the plugin vehicle market) leads the way in 2021 so far, the BMW X1 25e (5.2%) is 2nd, and the BMW i3 (5.1%) is in 3rd. In Italy, the Volvo XC40 PHEV (7.1% of the plugin vehicle market) leads the way in 2021 so far, the Jeep Compass PHEV (5.7%) is 2nd, and the Smart Fortwo EV (5.4%) is in 3rd.

Spain is doing its own thing as well, with a completely different top 3 than those two countries.

So, the unifying point is that all of these Southern Europe markets are waking up to EVs, but in their own ways. The Peugeot 3008 PHEV (7.4% of the plugin vehicle market) leads the way in 2021 so far, the Tesla Model 3 (3.5%) is 2nd, and the Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV (3.2%) is in 3rd.

Western Europe

We then jumped to an extremely mature market, the Netherlands. The Dutch market, unfortunately, is also known for being an extremely boom-bust plugin vehicle market. You can see this well in the year-to-year market share chart:

Netherlands — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

José talks at length about why the Dutch market has been such a boom–bust market since 2013. For that insight, you have to listen to the podcast or watch the video. Overall, plugin vehicles were at 14.9% auto market share in the Netherlands in 2019 (13.8% BEV, 1.1% PHEV), 24.8% in 2020 (20.2% BEV, 4.6% PHEV), and 17.9% so far in 2021 (7.9% BEV, 10% PHEV).

Austria — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

On the flip side, José highlighted Austria as a market that’s “doing plugin vehicle incentives the right way.” Similar to the Southern European markets we looked at, but at a much higher market share, Austria’s plugin vehicle market saw a steep rise in the past few years — all boom, no bust.

Overall, plugin vehicles had 3.4% auto market share in Austria in 2019 (2.8% BEV, 0.6% PHEV), 9.4% in 2020 (6.2% BEV, 3.2% PHEV), and 16.8% so far in 2021 (10.6% BEV, 6.2% PHEV).

Belgium — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Another example of “incentives done wrong” is Belgium. You can see from the chart above that plugin hybrids are ruling the plugin vehicle market in Belgium. José notes that this is what the Dutch market would have looked like as well if it hadn’t removed company-car incentives for plugin hybrids — with heavy imbalance toward PHEVs.

This did lead a bit to a discussion on PHEV charging issues, charging infrastructure in Europe, certain charging networks.

Overall, plugin vehicles had 3.2% auto market share in Belgium in 2019 (1.6% BEV, 1.6% PHEV), 11.1% in 2020 (3.3% BEV, 7.8% PHEV), and 15.1% so far in 2021 (3.5% BEV, 11.6% PHEV).

Germany — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Germany has also seen rapid plugin vehicle growth, and it sits somewhat in the middle on the BEV vs. PHEV weighting. Plugin vehicles had 2.9% auto market share in Germany in 2019 (1.7% BEV, 1.2% PHEV), 13.3% in 2020 (6.4% BEV, 6.9% PHEV), and 21.8% so far in 2021 (10% BEV, 11.8% PHEV).

Island Countries

Jumping over the channel to the UK, José said, “and once again, this is, more or less, incentives done right.” Meanwhile, Iceland only trails Norway with 58.5% of new car sales being plugin vehicle sales.

UK — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Plugin vehicles had 3.2% auto market share in the UK back in 2019 already (1.6% BEV, 1.6% PHEV), 10.7% in 2020 (6.4% BEV, 4.3% PHEV), and 14% so far in 2021 (7.2% BEV, 6.8% PHEV).

Iceland — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Plugin vehicles had 24.6% auto market share in Iceland back in 2019 already (9.5% BEV, 15.1% PHEV), 51.2% in 2020 (26.2% BEV, 25% PHEV), and 62.5% so far in 2021 (24.8% BEV, 33.7% PHEV).

Scandinavia

Denmark — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Denmark is another market currently seeing a heavy focus on PHEVs rather than full electric vehicles, surely from PHEV incentives being a bit generous on a relative basis. Overall, plugin vehicles had 4.2% auto market share in Denmark in 2019 (2.5% BEV, 1.7% PHEV), 16.4% in 2020 (7% BEV, 9.4% PHEV), and 24.9% so far in 2021 (6.5% BEV, 18.4% PHEV).

Norway — Plugin Vehicle Share of Auto Market

Norway is king. Everyone knows it. Just look at those numbers. Norway was already at 55.8% plugin vehicle market share in 2019 (42.3% BEV, 13.5% PHEV), rose to 74.5% in 2020 (51.6% BEV, 22.9% PHEV), and now is sitting at 82% in 2021 so far (51.7% BEV, 30.3% PHEV).

As José points out, if all of Europe followed Norway’s historical trend, plugin vehicles could be at 80% market share before the end of the decade. However, he also points out that Norway’s EV incentives have been very steady for years, whereas there’s a lot of uncertainty about how different countries will adjust their policies (or not) as the electric vehicle market matures.

What About Light-Duty Commercial Vehicles?

Yes, we got into an important but neglected area of the auto market as well in this podcast — light-duty electric vehicles and how they are electrifying.

We also touched on the Osborne effect, with both José and I estimating/guessing (separately) that it may already account for a 10% drop in overall auto market sales across the continent.

For much more discussion on any of the matters above, listen to the podcast or watch the video at the top.

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Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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