Europe goes electric
Until recently, electric mobility in Europe – except for Norway – was still in a kind of twilight state. Fearing lack of range and scepticism about technology were the main reasons for this reluctance. Even Car-Nation Germany continued to prefer traditional drives. Ten years ago, the German government forecasted that one million electric cars were to be driven in Germany by 2020, but just under 260,000 have been registered since.
In contrast, China is a good example of how to electrify a country with great success, which is setting the bar very high. With clear announcements and financial incentives, the Chinese government had ensured to become the largest market for electric vehicles within a few years. A clear strategy. But this strategy – regardless of whether there is a car summit or climate goals – is still missing in Europe. But things have started to move, and significant changes can now be observed in many European countries. Since the beginning of the year, sales-figures have been rising. In China and the USA, on the other hand, enthusiasm for electric cars is losing its momentum. The Chinese government has reduced its support for the purchase of electric vehicles, and it is to be phased out completely in 2022.
Norway is European champion
2020 could be considered as turning point in the development of e-mobility in Europe. While the share of diesel and gasoline vehicles declined by 40 percent each, e-car-sales grew considerably compared to the same period in 2019: battery electric cars (BEV) by 53, hybrids (HEV) by 32 and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) by even 161 percent. In Germany alone, more than 21,000 electric cars were registered in September – two and a half times as many as one year before.
But the front-runner in Europe is still Norway, which has been systematically making electric cars available since the 1990s. The country recorded the highest number of BEV registrations in 2019 counting 60,400 units. This represents 42 percent of the total market. But this could be surpassed this year, because by August alone, 38,600 units had already been registered and, compared to last year, the share of electric vehicles in the total market rose from a good 35 to almost 40 percent in the first eight months. In 2018 Norway had already surpassed its plan of having 100,000 electric cars on the road, which was aimed for by 2020.
Competitive? Only at the same cost!
Other European countries are trying to follow suit. In the Netherlands, for example, the EV market share rose from 6.5 to almost 9 percent, in Sweden from 4.5 to 7 percent. Germany also continues to have ambitious goals: by 2030, an impressive 10 million electric vehicles are to be brought to the charging stations, of which one million are to be installed by then. Of the 130 Billion Euro economic stimulus package for the post-Corona period agreed this summer, a considerable proportion is to be used to support electromobility. France also wants to increase the state subsidy for the purchase of an electric vehicle – from 6,000 to 7,000 Euros.
However, electric cars will probably only achieve a truly significant share of the European new vehicle market when their total operating costs are comparable to those of internal combustion engines. But the European market is already growing – thanks to sustainability goals – at such a pace that it is becoming increasingly likely that Europe could overtake China in the future.
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