A rush to meet new European Union CO2 fleet average emissions targets, accompanied by a number of end of year key tax changes, as well as the accustomed end of quarter Tesla push – bundling three months of deliveries into the final month of the quarter – lead to Western Europe’s 18 monitored market region* witnessing every fourth new passenger car newly registered in December fitted with a plug in.
Battery electric vehicles (BEV) lead the charge accounting for a new monthly record volume of just over 160,000 units according to Schmidt Automotive Research provisional data, achieving more than 100,000 monthly units for the first time, accounting for 15 per cent of the total monthly registrations according to the exclusively compiled data published in the European Electric Car Report each month.
Germany lead the BEV storm in December with 43,677 registrations according to KBA data, and consequently accounted for more than every fourth BEV registered in Western Europe during December.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) accounted for the remaining, just over 100,000 monthly units (also a new record), bringing the combined monthly plug-in total to 0.27 million units in December alone. Quarterly plug-in volumes well in excess of 0.5 million in Q4. This also helped the region achieve another debut, in reaching over 0.5 million new plug-in deliveries within a quarter, or more than 200,000 units higher than the previous best quarter (Q3 2020).
A firm favourite with company car drivers that can benefit from substantial fiscal savings in many European markets while being under no obligation to charge the vehicle will, according to Schmidt Automotive Research’s Matthias Schmidt, witness a boost in 2021 thanks to the 5% worst emitters from 2020, having been omitted from the fleet average emissions calculations, effectively having to migrate to PHEVs in order for the manufacturers to reach tougher 2021 CO2 targets. Also in tough Malus markets such as France there will soon be no alternative to either a PHEV or BEV for large and heavy premium models.
During full year 2020, every eighth new car was a plug-in
In terms of full year 2020, combined PHEV and BEV new resignations accounted for 1.33m new vehicles across the 18 market region, or just over 12 per cent of total registrations. BEVs accounted for 55 per cent of this total (726,000) while PHEVs accounted for the reaming 45 per cent (605,000).
Plug-in growth rate likely to slow up to 2025
However the publisher of the monthly European Electric Car Report doesn’t believe this impressive growth rate will be maintained with many manufacturers that have sunken costs in internal combustion engine technology effectively slamming on the electric vehicle supply brakes between 2022 and 2025 to meet the current level of EU CO2 compliance with close to the minimum level of electric vehicle sales in order to reach their given targets and avoid fines.
The real significant market penetration growth across the majority of European markets is expected between 2025 to 2030. After that, the next EU CO2 cut, following the 2030 cut (expected to now be -50 per cent over 2021 CO2 levels, or around 60.5g/km in the WLTP cycle) is likely to see a phase out of ICEs up to 2035. This would give the region 15 years to clean the car parc (vehicles in circulation) in the period towards 2050 in order to reach Paris Agreement obligations.