A good year for the automobile. Sales of electric vehicles doubled in Europe in 2020, while sales of plug-in hybrids tripled, topping a total of one million vehicles sold, according to figures released by the Association of European Manufacturers (ACEA) on Thursday.
With a clear acceleration in the fourth quarter, 538,772 electric cars were sold last year and 507,059 plug-in hybrids.
Subsidies to help motorists
While the European market as a whole was cut by a quarter of its sales by the health crisis, sales of hybrid (including non-rechargeable) and electric vehicles even exceeded diesel sales in Europe in the fourth quarter for the first time. quarter, with over 900,000 vehicles sold. Germany, Italy and France have notably seen their electricity sales explode. Electric cars also eroded the gasoline market share: in the fourth quarter, sales of gasoline vehicles fell 33.7% to 1.2 million units (40.6% market share) and those of diesel 23% to 731,000 units (24.5%).
At the same time, electric cars grew by 217%, to 248,000 copies, plug-in hybrids by 331% to 227,000 copies, and non-rechargeable hybrids by 105% to 435,000 copies. Across Europe, sales took off thanks to efforts on both supply and demand. Governments have sprinkled billions of euros in subsidies for the purchase of cleaner vehicles, ranging up to 9,000 euros in Germany and 12,000 euros in France.
The epidemic has accelerated the transition
Many motorists have also changed vehicles to continue entering metropolises which, like Copenhagen, Brussels, Rome and Paris, have banned their centers from the most polluting vehicles, or plan to do so. Manufacturers have multiplied the launches of new hybrid and electric vehicles, especially to stay within the nails of European standards: under penalty of heavy fines, they had to go below 95 grams of CO2 / km. Volkswagen has already announced that the account is not there.
The German manufacturer should however be one of the winners of this hectic electric market. The ID3, launched in September to carry its ambitions in the electric, became in December the second best-selling car in Europe, all engines combined according to the firm Jato Dynamics. In 2021, it should overtake the Renault Zoe and the Tesla Model 3, which dominated the European electric market in 2020. “The Covid has accelerated things”, analyzed Eric Esperance, of the Roland Berger cabinet. “Renault, PSA and Volkswagen had already planned to switch to their assembly lines. Once the chains are electric, it is in your best interest to sell as many vehicles as possible. The hybrid should remain “a transitional solution” until 2030, according to the expert, especially for motorists who need to make kilometers.
Go below 25,000 euros
Until then, to convince even more widely, the electrics must lower their prices. More charging stations on the side of the road should also reassure motorists of their autonomy. “There is a mass effect and prices are falling,” says Eric Esperance. “From 2023, we will align with the price of use of gasoline models and there will be no need for bonuses. Several brands plan to develop cheaper models, below the 25,000 euros mark. Top-of-the-range manufacturers are also developing their 100% electric offer, such as Audi with its e-Tron range or BMW with its iX sports SUV.
With the progress of electronic components and the multiplication of terminals, “the question of their autonomy should also be settled”, underlines the expert. “This is just the start,” said the Xerfi cabinet in a press release. In France, sales of electric and plug-in hybrids are expected to jump 30% per year on average to represent a quarter of the total market in 2025, compared to around 10% today. “Alongside the United Kingdom and Germany, France will then be able to boast of being one of the most advanced countries in terms of electromobility”, underlines Xerfi.