Electric Car Sales In Europe Are Booming As Over 1 Million EVs Hit The Road

Drivers in Norway, Germany, and other European countries are buying up electric cars, particularly the Nissan Leaf.


May 31 2019, Updated 12:38 p.m. ET

Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly popular choice in Europe, according to new numbers reported in The Guardian. In the first half of 2018, European consumers bought 195,000 plug-in cars, a sales figure that’s 42 percent higher than the one from the same period last year. 

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That brings the total number of EVs in Europe up to over 1 million cars — and industry experts expect the tally to hit 1.35 million by the year’s end.

These impressive stats come courtesy of EV-Volumes, a consultancy and data resource in Sweden that monitors EV sales development. The group found EV sales trending upwards in the European market, particularly in the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland. Norway alone has added 36,500 new plug-in cars to its roads in 2018, constituting a 37 percent share of new registrations.

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But Germany was actually the strongest growth contributor. The country has seen a 52 percent growth in EV sales this year, and is expected to hit 84,000 units by the end of 2018.

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So what types of cars are European drivers buying? The breakdown reveals a slight preference for pure electric vehicles, which made up 51 percent of sales in 2018. Fuel cell vehicles — a less common type of EV that converts hydrogen into electricity, emitting only water vapor and hot air — constituted less than 1 percent of the sales, with the remaining share going to hybrids.

As for the most popular models, the Nissan Leaf claimed the top spot, displacing the long-time European champ, the Renault Zoe, which ranked second. The BMW i3 placed third, with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and VW e-Golf rounding out the top five. 

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Since June of 2017, the number of EV models available in Europe has also increased slightly, from 51 to 56. The top-performing manufacturer is BMW, followed by VW and Renault.

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These initial 2018 statistics are great news for the EV industry, but more EV drivers will require more charging stations. That's why EV-Volumes is using the report to advocate for better infrastructure. “The one millionth sale this year is a clear signal of consumer intent,” Matt Allen, CEO of EV-Volumes, told The Guardian. “Access to low-cost, well-located charging from abundant power sources is crucial for capturing this momentum.”

The European Alternative Fuels Observatory currently estimates there are 149,100 total stations across the continent. 

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Meanwhile, in America, EV sales are also growing, though not at the rate industry insiders expected. U.S. consumers bought 122,000 plug-in cars in the first half of 2018, marking a 36 percent boost from the same period last year. But EV-Volumes has decreased its year-end projection from 400,000 sales to 350,000, noting the sluggish sales of the Nissan Leaf, which is having a harder time attracting American consumers than European and Japanese drivers.

Still, the U.S. market does love Tesla, and EV-Volumes believes the hotly anticipated Tesla Model-3 could boost the overall numbers, potentially helping the U.S. reach one million EVs this November.

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