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The route to EU CO2 compliance continues to heavily rely on ICEs... May snapshot


News in brief:

  • New plug-in hybrid volumes remained ahead of pure-EVs during every month this year

  • VW Group top – VW BEVs accounted for 1-in-4 pure-electric cars registered this year

  • Bigger the better? SUV/Crossovers continue to dominate Europe's new BEV market

  • Industry braces – EU commission likely to propose tighter CO2 fleet targets in July

Future product: Little Miss Sunshine: Sono Motors... Powered by the sun and accumulating around half the total deposits as Tesla's Cybertruck click here for the story


With 'EV' sales appearing in every second headline it appears, the definition often doesn't make it clear that more than half of those EVs in Western Europe* are still fitted with an internal combustion engine (ICE)

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) volumes have now remained ahead of pure electrics (BEV) across the 18 market West European region for every month this year. With first signs indicating, when given the opportunity drivers that are effectively being forced into an EV in order to avoid a tough Malus (France/Sweden), securing a parking space in front of their residence (Netherlands) or receive a lower tax bill (Germany/UK) are all contributing to PHEVs (Jan-May 2021: 421,700) outpacing BEVs (356,000) this year.

MQB new plug-in volumes greatly outnumber MEB models so far this year Despite Volkswagen's MEB pure electric dedicated platform stealing most business column inches over the last 12-months – as well as the sidelines of international football tournaments – it is VW's almost decade-old MQB multi-powertrain platform that is seeing more 'EV' deliveries in 2021.

EU BEV/PHEV electric car sales trend by month infographic

Across Western Europe during the opening 5-months of this year 70,000 MQB based PHEV models entered W-European roads compared to under 50,000 MEB based VW Group models according to this report's data.

The market for PHEVs is expected to remain confidently in place up to 2025 as OEMs are happy to continue to push these transitionary profitable models to help meet CO2 compliance levels.

EU BEV electric car sales by market infographic

From 2025 onwards however, more competitive BEV models are awaited that can compete at a more even level with ICEs thanks to a shove from the EU with falling CO2 fleet average emissions targets forcing a new product blitz.

EU CO2 passengers cars sales infographic

A more substantial charging network (AFID) will likely be in place too. At this point we are very likely to see PHEV volumes hit their peak as BEVs begin to accelerate to meet tighter 2030 CO2 targets that are to be proposed by the EU on July 14th. A German SZ newspaper article, published June 18, revealing Audi's last new ICE powered model will enter the market from 2026 with all other new launches from that point on being BEVs, also highlighted; Audi circles revealed that while the A6 currently brings a profit margin of around 20% the BEV version will be only 2-3 ppts lower.

BEVs likely to outnumber PHEVs for the month this year in June

June is likely to see BEVs take the lead over PHEVs for the first month this year thanks to Tesla's end of quarter deliveries push, followed by the continued market roll-out of key BEVs such as the Audi Q4 and continued drive from the VW ID.4/ŠKODA Enyaq. The Enyaq outnumbered ID.4 registrations in May according to the report. By the end of 2021 BEVs are expected to have regained the balance, but with some motorists unprepared to make the total commitment to BEVs thanks to preferential treatment remaining in place for PHEVs, duel-motor driving will remain around for sometime yet.

Combined plug-in EV volumes are likely to surpass 2m units this year (2020: 1.33m), and the 12-month rolling total later this summer.


The monthly European Electric Car Flash Report report is forecasting a 8.5 per cent BEV market penetration in a 12.3 million total recovering passenger car market this year. During the the past 12-month period up to the end of May, BEV volumes accounted for 7.7 per cent of total volumes.


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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