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Electric cars drive up market share in Europe

Sales of electric cars in Europe set a record for share of the overall market for new vehicles last year, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association figures show.

Battery-powered electric cars accounted for 12.1 per cent of new car sales, compared to 9.1 per cent in 2021 and 1.9 per cent in 2019, the ACEA said.

Sales of electric cars rose 28 per cent last year, with more than 1.1 million vehicles sold, as the EU moves towards a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

The rises were particularly strong in Germany, where sales accelerated at the end of the year, just before some purchase incentives fell away.

In Norway, a record 79 per cent of new cars sold last year were electric, as the country aims to ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2025, a decade ahead of the EU’s ban.

However, Italian buyers slammed on the brakes, with the sale of electric cars falling by 26.9 per cent.

It was also a solid year for hybrid car sales in the EU, which achieved a market share of 22.6 per cent.

Traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled cars continued to lose ground, but still accounted for just over half of EU new car sales in 2022 at 52.8 per cent.

Luca de Meo, ACEA president and chief executive of French car maker Renault, said the industry was “moving fast”.

But he added that more public charging points were needed in Europe. Currently, 2,000 are being constructed a week, but in order to ensure the EU’s electric-driven future, that weekly figure needs to be at least 14,000, he said.

“Despite many announcements and recent progress, infrastructure development is lagging behind the industry efforts,” said Mr de Meo.

The EU will need 3.4 million charging points by 2030, according to a report by consulting firm McKinsey.

A NIO Inc. ES8 electric sport utility vehicle (SUV) stands on display at the automaker's showroom in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. NIO is fighting for relevance in a country overflowing with aspiring electric-car makers, and where foreign competition from the likes of Tesla is intensifying.  Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

China drives ahead

Much of the spark for the global growth in electric cars comes from China, where incentives for consumers helped double sales in 2022.

But, experts said such a pace of sales improvements would be difficult to sustain.

“China’s BEV [battery electric vehicle] growth will be moderate in 2023, after a meteoric rise in 2022 of more than 100 per cent year-on-year,” said Al Bedwell, director of Global Powertrain at LMC Automotive.

“The country’s slowing economy and unavoidable retail price increases will dampen Chinese BEV and plug-in hybrid demand, though much volume will still be added.”

In North America, electric cars could represent seven per cent of the market this year, with 1.3 million vehicles sold, according to research by LMC Automotive.

The US is giving its electric car industry a major boost with a $370 billion green energy bill that includes tax cuts for electric cars and batteries made in the country.

One in eight cars sold worldwide this year could be electric.

Updated: February 01, 2023, 12:02 PM

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