Legislation works – European electric car market – Full-year 2020 round-up


As manufacturers scrambled to meet EU (and Swiss) CO2 compliance levels with a last-minute registrations splash-and-dash in December, contributing to total xEV (BEV/PHEV) plug-in registrations exceeding 0.5 million units in the final quarter of the year, as billed: 2020 lived up to its claim of being the first genuine year where EVs moved from the slow hanging fruit lane to the mainstream, narrowly failing to miss this report's pre-COVID original forecast of 770,000 units. Annual registrations doubled over previous year levels to 727,927 units, while PHEVs – also a key strategic tool in meeting latest fleet average CO2 targets – saw volumes achieve 606,466 units, combining to see West European xEVs surpass Chinese new plug-in passenger car registrations (passenger car only data can now be identified) last year to become the world's largest region for externally rechargeable passenger cars.

Significantly, every eighth (Full year 2020: 12.4% plug-in mix) passenger car entering Western Europe's roads last year (Q4 2020: 19.1% plug-in mix) was either a PHEV or BEV.


The pandemic's grip on the total passenger car market, recording its lowest volumes since 1985, ironically contributed to BMW Group, PSA, Renault and Daimler all achieving their CO2 compliance targets last year, according to company data.


According to Volkswagen Group, the Wolfsburg-based German manufacturer, revealed that they failed to meet their CO2 target, falling short by 0.5g/km.


A company spokesperson told this report that it was likely contributed to by the ID.3 (MEB) model's delayed market launch, resulting from software issues delaying customer deliveries.

Long-billed as the kick-start to Europe's move away from ICEs and towards EVs thanks to the EU block's CO2 legislation essentially forcing car manufacturers hand, 2020 produced the goods with December even witnessing every fourth new passenger car registration being a plug-in.

As an immediate sequel, thanks to the EU fleet average CO2 emissions targets only being phased-in last year, with the worst 5 per cent from each fleet being omitted, 2021 will see momentum maintained if be it with a slightly reduced growth rate.


In 2021 manufacturers entire fleet will count towards average fleet totals as well as a reduced value of so- called super-credits on offer (if manufacturers have any of their limited 7.5g/km amount left, spread over three years).

2021 is consequently set to be the full gala evening performance following the afternoon press- preview event in 2020.

This report expects 2021 to see a BEV market penetration rise to 8.5 per cent, translating to 1.045 million units in a recovering 12.3 million total West European passenger car market.

With PHEVs added to the equation, key in helping meet compliance, especially for premium manufactures, the 2021 xEV market is forecast to account for 15.5 per cent of the market, or 1.907 million units.

More in-depth analysis is available each month in the European Electric Car Report, available on a monthly or annual basis. The full-year report is available here


© 2020 by Matthias Schmidt | Berlin, Germany