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June 2020 European electric car market update

The West European passenger car market, which includes the original EU member states prior to the 2004 enlargement plus EFTA member states Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, witnessed pure electric BEV new car registrations account for just over every twentieth passenger car registered in both June and the opening half of the year according to exclusive data published in the next edition of The European Electric Car Report. 4.8 per cent of all the new passenger cars registered in the 18 monitored West European markets were fully electric powered BEV (battery electric vehicles) passenger cars in June, and 4.7% in the turbulent corona impacted opening 6-months of the year.

More BEV electric cars registered in the opening half of 2020 as full year 2018

With 216,000 new pure electric cars joining West European roads during the opening half of the year, volumes have already surpassed 2018 full year levels, that narrowly failed to surpass 200,000 units, as manufacturers race to introduce new electric models this year in order to meet latest fleet average European CO2 compliance levels, phased in this year.

BEV registrations up (+44%)

Total market down (-24%)

Perhaps more revealing was the fact that the market saw BEV registrations, rising by 44 per cent over previous year levels to 49,000 units in June, outperform the total passenger car market by a considerable margin – falling by 24 per cent year-on-year during the same month. This marked a sixth consecutive year-on-year monthly decline in the West European passenger car market according to European Electric Car Report data.

Plug-in (BEV+PHEV) volumes reach 0.39 million units after 6-months:

  • Between January and June this year 390,000 plug-in passenger cars were newly registered in the West European region. Monthly PHEV (Plug-in hybrids) volumes have been close to exceeding BEV volumes so far this year, which could happen in July once the Tesla quarterly bounce is factored in.

Three largest volume passenger car markets now reflected in BEV volumes:

  • France boosted by an increased government subsidy for electric cars was able to finish the first half of the year as the largest BEV passenger car market in the region. It was closely followed by Germany another market that recently saw generous government subsidies increase for private customers, reaching just under €10,000 for BEV vehicles under €40,000 with the minimum OEM contribution factored in. An increase to the boundary for vehicles qualifying for the reduced 0.25 per cent company car benefit in kind tax rate is also expected to help the market develop further up until the end of the year although volumes are expected to be limited by OEMs in order to help them achieve tougher 2021 CO2 compliance levels. Finally, UK volumes moved ahead of Norway's as the boost from company car drivers looking to benefit from a zero per cent benefit in kind tax rate – introduced in April – is witnessing a likely delayed delivery of BEVs that were due to be delivered during the corona shutdown, causing high UK BEV volumes in June.

New OEM entrants likely to target just a handful of European markets with new EV models

  • During the opening half of 2020 the top five volume BEV markets – France, Germany, UK, Norway and The Netherlands – accounted for three-in-four of all the regional BEV registrations, causing some new market entrants to focus on these key markets while giving other lower volume markets the cold shoulder. Polestar, a Geely/Volvo Cars plug-in only brand, told this report this week that it will initially only offer the European version of its Polestar 2 all electric vehicle (tested this week) in Germany, UK, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland (the only market not part of 2020 EU CO2 emissions legislation although its own system mirrors European targets to a greater extent, which could be replicated in the UK from next year).

Market outlook:

  • Impacted by the corona pandemic the 2020 forecast remains at the revised level of 556,000 (58% y/y growth) from over 700,000 forecast at the start of the year. This would equate to a 5 per cent share of a total market falling by -20 per cent.

This is just a summary of the European Electric Car Sales Monthly Market Intelligence Report which is published on a monthly basis and are available here.


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