Boosted by EV incentives, European car sales to grow by 10% in 2021
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) forecasts that 2021 will mark a first step on the path to recovery, with sales rising by about 10% compared to 2020. Especially electrically chargeable vehicles will contribute to the growth, provided that EU policymakers provide the necessary support.
The fallout of COVID is expected to persist into the first quarter of 2021, but the car market should pick up in the second half of the year as vaccination programmes progress. “Now more than ever it is crucial that we work hand in hand with EU policy makers to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe’s auto industry on the global stage,” stated ACEA’s new President, Oliver Zipse, who is also CEO of BMW.
“Thanks to the global business model of European auto manufacturers and international demand for EU-made vehicles, production facilities in Europe were able to benefit from more swiftly-recovering markets last year, notably those in Asia,” noted Mr Zipse. “Nevertheless, the sustainable economic recovery of the European Union and local demand is vital for our return to pre-crisis strength.”
1 in 9 has a plug
Boosted by increasing industry investments and national support measures to stimulate demand during the COVID crisis, the market share of electrically-chargeable cars grew strongly last year, with provisional 2020 figures showing an EU-wide market share of 10.5 % (up from 3% in 2019) according to ACEA. Automotive consultancy Jato says on the 23 markets they cover, on average 12% of all new cars registered were BEVs or PHEVs.
In its blog article of January 27th, Jato reckons this is a significant result considering their average prices and the relatively reduced offering when compared to longstanding petrol and diesel vehicles. Throughout the year, strong efforts made by European governments have aided growth for the models.
“With the right policy support, including a massive ramp-up of charging and refuelling infrastructure for alternative fuels across all EU member states, this positive trend can continue,” said ACEA president Zipse. “Despite the economic pressures caused by the pandemic, our industry remains fully committed to its ongoing transformation to carbon neutrality.”
Decarbonisation, together with digitalisation, is also changing the nature of technologies that go into vehicles. With this in mind, ACEA is calling for a realistic European strategy on access to the supplies and raw materials which are necessary for state-of-the-art vehicles. Indeed, recent microchip shortages illustrate how disruptive a sudden interruption of crucial supplies can be to the industry, with its complex supply chains and a just-in-time business model that already is under a pressure because of Brexit.
Zipse: “Our sector is working hard to recover and rise to the challenges ahead. Because an EU auto industry that is strong – both at home and globally – will not only contribute to strengthening Europe’s economy, but also to reaching its climate ambitions.”
1 in 4 BEVs is made by Volkswagen
The impressive growth for EVs was partially driven by Volkswagen Group. While Tesla saw significant growth in 2019 – thanks to the Tesla Model 3 – Volkswagen cemented their position in the race for electrification last year, Jato writes.
The Volkswagen ID.3 is finally catching up with the Renault Zoé and Volkswagen saw a range of success from varying models including the Porsche Taycan, Audi E-Tron, and Seat Mii/Volkswagen Up/Skoda Citigo.
These models helped Volkswagen to grow its market share within the BEV market to 25.2% in 2020 – almost double Tesla’s share which dropped from 31% in 2019 to 13.3% in 2020. In fact, despite holding first place in 2019, Tesla now occupies third position, currently outsold by the Renault-Nissan alliance.
Mercedes-Benz leads PHEV sales
Even though BMW has long claimed to be the e-leader in Europe, it is competitor Mercedes-Benz that carries the sales crown today. It seemingly made the right strategic choice by introducing a diesel plug-in hybrid powertrain in the C Class, E Class, GLC and GLE, while expanding its PHEV offer to the A Class, CLA, B Class and GLA.
Volvo is still the brand that relatively speaking sells the most PHEVs. Especially the XC40 is a popular choice amongst European drivers, followed by the XC60, V60 and V90.
The top 10 will probably change dramatically over the next months as more affordable PHEV models have started their career, including the pluggable models of the VW Golf, Renault Captur, Hyundai Tucson, Seat Leon, and so on. BMW has introduced entry-level PHEV models to their 3 Series and 5 Series, which are likely to become a popular choice among perk car drivers.
Picture copyright: Ford, 2021