The market share of plug-in cars in Europe increased during and immediately after the worst of the pandemic lockdowns, according to figures from ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association).
In the second quarter of 2020, the market share of electrically-chargeable vehicles increased to 7.2% of total EU car sales, compared to a 2.4% share during the same period last year. The figures include both battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
Registrations of plug-in cars rose by 53.3% to 129,344 new cars across the EU. This resulted in the overall market share of plug-ins going from 2.4% in 2019 to 7.2% in the second quarter of 2020. Sales of plug-in hybrids provided a strong boost to this growth (+133.9%) with 66,128 new cars. The increase in registrations of battery electric vehicles was more modest (+12.7%), totalling 63,216 units.
Despite a slight decline during the second quarter (-7.2%), hybrid electric vehicles remained the bestselling alternatively-powered vehicle type in the European Union, with 172,149 units registered in total and representing 9.6% of the EU car market.
Sales of passenger cars running on the alternative fuels ethanol (E85), liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas (NGV) halved from April to June this year (-50.5%), mainly due to a strong contraction of the Italian market, which is the biggest one for these fuel types. With 34,656 units sold over the period, alternative fuels held a market share of 1.9% during the second quarter.
All alternatively-powered vehicles (APV) combined represented 18.7% of the EU car market – 335,906 units were sold from April to June 2020, or 1.1% less than in 2019. Among the four major markets, France and Germany posted positive results (+51.1% and +20.6% respectively), mainly driven by sales of plug-in hybrids. By contrast, both Spain (-46.2%) and Italy (-30.2%) saw sharp declines in the second quarter, owing to the negative performance of the hybrid and LPG segments respectively.
The overall decline in passenger car registrations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the diesel and petrol segments in particular, although together still accounting for more than 80% of car sales.
During the second quarter, passenger cars with conventional internal combustion engines took the biggest hit from the coronavirus crisis, with sales falling by more than half across the EU from April to June 2020. The number of diesel cars registered in the European Union over the second quarter of the year fell by 53.4% to 526,645 units. This represents a market share of 29.4%, down from 32% in 2019.
Petrol sales posted similar declines (-55.0%), going from over 2 million units last year to 929,309 in the second quarter of 2020. All EU markets recorded strong double-digit drops so far this year. Looking at the four major EU markets, however, the differences were significant, with petrol sales during the three-month period down by 72.9% in Spain and 48.8% in France.[source: ACEA]