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One million new electric plug-in cars joined European roads during 2021's first-half

Updated: Jul 12, 2021


Key points:

  • 2021's first half saw one million new plug-in passenger cars join European roads, the first 6-month period over 1 million

  • Almost every fifth (17.2%) passenger car was a plug-in during the opening half

  • PHEVs accounted for the majority (52.2%) of plug-in volumes in the 6-month period

  • Every fifth (20.1%) new passenger car in June alone was a plug-in

  • 12-month-rolling cumulative BEV-only volume trend (Jul '20 - Jun '21) just below 1M

  • Second half growth expected to slow, due to previous year COVID/CO2 anomalies


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Consisting of BEVs – fully electric passenger cars – and PHEVs – plug-in hybrids – externally rechargeable new passenger car registrations in the 18 market West European region* witnessed combined volumes exceed one million units for the first time during a six month period.

According to the exclusively compiled data, published in the full in-depth European Electric Car Market Trend Report each month, the market surpassed last year's record closing half of the year by over 60,000 units. The 1.01 million units registered between January to June 2021 resulted in plug-in electric cars accounting for 17.2 per cent of the total new passenger car market, up from 12.4 per cent during the whole of 2020.

PHEVs driving 2021's growth

The major difference between the previous year and 2021, is the return of PHEVs.

During the whole of 2020 they accounted for 5.6 per cent of the total passenger car market , while during the first half of this year their share of the market has increased by 3.4 percentage points to nine per cent of the market. During the same period the mix from pure electric BEVs, such as the Tesla Model 3 or Volkswagen ID.3 only saw penetration levels increase by 1.5 percentage points to 8.2 per cent of the total market.

PHEV drive from premiums helping on the road to CO2 compliance PHEVs, are a key ingredient for premium manufacturers in particular, that have to increase electric volumes drastically over 2020 levels in order to meet 2021 CO2 compliance levels with BMW Group, and likely Daimler, having used their full allocation of 7.5g/km super-credits in 2020 as well as the 5 percent phase-in tool falling away in 2021.

PHEV push from 'Malus France' An increased malus in France is also seeing a strong increase for PHEVs where drivers of large-premium models are left with little alternative than a PHEV currently.

Q4 2020 remains the highest plug-in volume quarter, thanks to the sprint to meet 2020 CO2 compliance In order to meet CO2 compliance last year manufacturers waited until the final quarter in order to release CO2 busting plug-ins onto the market, inflating the quarter to 583,000 plug-ins which remains the highest quarterly volume, or 19.1 per cent of total registrations. The final quarter of 2020 accounted for 43 per cent of last year's total plug-in registrations volumes across the region. During the most recent quarter, Q2 2021, 564,000 plug-ins were registered according to Schmidt Automotive Research data, with BEV volumes outpacing PHEVs in the second quarter with 284,000 and 280,000 volumes respectively, but staying behind in the opening half with respective 483,000 and 528,000 volumes.

Every fifth new passenger car was a plug-in in June This resulted in 18.4 per cent of all new passengers cars entering Western Europe's roads being either a BEV or a PHEV during this year's second quarter. However during the month of June – benefitting from Tesla's end of quarter volume push – plug-in levels penetrated the 20 per cent mix level (20.1%) for just the second time ever. The only other previous time was December 2020, impacted by the rush to meet the new level of CO2 emissions, where in the closing month of the year, every fourth (25%) new passenger car was a plug-in.

The report expects 2.05m plug-in passenger cars to enter West European roads during 2021 with the penetration expected to remain modest up to 2025 when the next CO2 fleet average cut will enter into force and manufacturers use this window to push ICE models to finance their electric transition.

New CO2 target on the way

The European Commission will propose, July 14th, a new CO2 roadmap and targets for 2030 (currently 37.5 per cent reduction over 2021 levels).

The average emissions from new passenger cars in 2020 across the EU27, UK, Iceland and Norway was 107.8g/km NEDC-BT according to provisional EEA data. 2020 included a 95 per cent phase-in which meant the worst five per cent of vehicles from each fleet could be omitted, the maximum value of so-called super-credits was allocated, and the weight-based target was the reason for the discrepancy away from the the 95g/km average target among other things.

From 2021, targets will be in the WLTP cycle with the average mass-weight based target expected to be around 120g/km WLTP up to 2025.

The European Electric Car Flash Report which is published on a monthly basis covers the entire West European region in a detailed data-driven manner.


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


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