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Q1 2021 West European Electric Car Market – Report


Schmidt Automotive Research

OEMs increasingly relying on generous Germans to push EVs

Thanks to both generous plug-in purchase incentives in Germany – driving the country to a dominating one-third share of the total West European BEV market during the opening quarter of the year – as well as attractive fiscal benefits for drivers of plug-in company cars, boosting PHEV volumes by similar levels, the German market is becoming a magnet for manufacturers hoping to offload CO2 fleet-beating electric cars to remain CO2 compliant. However, Sweden may be about to take some of that high voltage strain too. While the German car market accounted for just one-quarter of total passenger car registrations across the 18 market region during the opening quarter of the year, its xEV plug-in passenger car new registrations volume accounted for one third (32%) of the same region. The actual xEV (PHEV+BEV) penetration level in Germany itself (21.7%) was higher than the market average (16%) over the same period. This made it the largest non-nordic EU market when it comes to new passenger car plugin penetration. Nordic lights shine bright All nordic markets Sweden (35.6%), Finland (25.9%) and Denmark (24.0%) had higher xEV penetration levels, as well as non-EU markets Norway (82%) and Iceland (51.5%) – both included in the EU fleet average target. Sweden shoots past Norway thanks partly to a Bonus/Malus change Sweden, which has been fuelled by PHEVs up to now, helping its xEV volumes (Q1 2021: 32,388) surpass that of neighbouring Norway (29,789) this year, is expected to see a switch in favour of BEVs from April thanks to a change to the Bonus Malus system that will reward BEVs with higher incentives while PHEVs are reduced. This resulted in a last-minute boost for PHEVs in March, accounting for just under every third passenger car (30%), topping the 18 market region in both March and the quarter. From April BEVs will receive SEK 70,000 (€6,900) – a SEK 10,000 increase. PHEVs will see a new 60g/km WLTP ceiling, down from 70g/km previously, while their bonus will fall to a maximum of SEK 45,000 (€4,400). April is therefore expected to see pent-up BEV demand enter Swedish roads, while PHEVs slow.

Meanwhile during March a reduction in BEV purchase subsidies in the UK (max. GBP 2,500/€2,900) for vehicles with a max price of GBP 35,000, down from GBP 50,000 previously, saw some manufacturers drop entry-level prices to within the new boundary within hours. The UK is in a crucial year where OEMs have to meet independent CO2 targets and is the reason that despite the subsidy cut, UK plug-in volumes are still expected to remain high this year.

During Q1, UK BEV volumes were second only to Germany and ahead of France. EV purchase subsidies are also impacting vehicle dimensions. Thanks to German incentives proportionally favouring smaller BEVs, demand is being boosted for tiny EVs. VW's eUp was the No.1 BEV in Germany (Q1).


Key points: - PHEV volumes in Q1 2021 were ahead of BEVs for the first quarter out of the past ten

- German xEV production recorded its highest mix of total monthly production on record (18.8%) remaining within a 15% - 20% corridor for the sixth month out of the last seven.

- Tesla was the No.1 BEV brand in both March and Q1 and also recorded the most registered model with its Model 3 during the same periods.

- Tesla managed to halt its 12-month cumulative rolling market share decline at 13%. The report expects Tesla to regain traction in 2021, with its market share set to return to closer to 20 per cent by the end of the year. Its 12-month running peak was 31 per cent at the end of 2019 according to the report. VW Group led the way in the 12-month period up to and including March 2021 with 23 per cent share of the total BEV market.

- German xEV passengers cars in circulation (Parc) remain on course to be the first European market to hit the 1 million mark before by the end of this summer and just before German Chancellor Merkel departs her post, securing her electric legacy, all be it one year behind the government's original target.

- SUV/Crossovers remained the largest BEV car sector.

- The total West European 12-month BEV cumulative total up to and including March 2021 was 0.8 million units, with the 1 million 12-month cumulative mark expected to be reached this summer. The BEV share of the total market over the same period was 7.4 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. *Western Europe 18 Markets: EU Member States prior to the 2004 enlargement plus EFTA markets Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, plus UK


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