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March/Q1 2021 West European Electric Car Market – PHEVs remain the elephant in the room


Schmidt Automotive Research

Despite failing to achieve a second consecutive over half a million new (PHEV/BEV) plug-in electric car registrations in a single quarter, 2021's opening three month period witnessed 443,000 xEV volumes, resulting in the second-highest quarterly volume on record, according to provisional Schmidt Automotive Research data.

However, it was plug-in hybrid models that dominated those rechargeable vehicles, soaking up 245,000 new registrations compared to 198,000 pure electric models according to the latest data, published every month in the European Electric Car Report.

Germany remains the main plug-in pillar of the region

Germany now accounts for almost every third (Q1 2021 32.8% regional plug-in share) xEV registered across the 18 market region, or more than the following two largest markets (France/UK) combined.

Sweden now the largest Scandinavian plug-in market

Plug-in volumes in Sweden (Q1 2021: 32,400 ) have now surpassed Norway (29,800) to become the largest Nordic market in terms of plug-in vehicles this year – and the fourth largest market in the region – thanks to a rush for PHEVs in March before the Swedish Bonus Malus system is altered to reflect greater benefits for BEVs and the opposite for PHEVs.

Almost 16 per cent of all the new passenger car models that entered West European roads during the opening quarter of 2021 were rechargeable vehicles, falling by 3.3 percentage points over the record final quarter of last year (19.2%) that witnessed record plug-in volumes in a rush to meet tightened CO2 fleet emission levels that were phased-in last year.

The 12-month cumulative xEV new passenger car registrations across the region rose to 1.55 million units with PHEVs now under 50,000 units away from reaching parity with BEVs over a 12-month period.


Key points:

  • Germany now accounts for almost every third xEV registered across the 18 market region, or more than the next two markets (France/UK) combined.

  • Thirteen countries out of the 18 market region saw greater Q1 PHEV volumes than BEV volumes.

  • Sweden moves ahead of Norway to become Scandinavia’s No.1 plug-in volume market, PHEV volumes likely brought forward into March due to a Bonus Malus change from April, 1 which may see BEVs boosted from April.


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. *Western Europe 18 Markets: EU Member States prior to the 2004 enlargement plus EFTA markets Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, plus UK


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