Plug-in cars overtake diesels in European sales

Posted on October 17, 2021 by Charles Morris

Many milestones will be passed along the journey to the coming world of electric-powered transportation. Another one recently receded into the rearview mirror, as sales of plug-in cars surpassed those of diesels in the European market.  

Above: Tesla Model 3 in Zurich (Flickr: crash71100)

Diesel cars have long been a mainstay of the auto market in Europe (they have a much smaller market share in the US). A couple of decades ago, when concerns about carbon emissions began to surface, German automakers, rather than pursuing electrification, placed their bets on diesels, which emit slightly less carbon per mile driven than gas vehicles. Today, after decades of deception and a few billion-dollar fines, it appears that diesel’s day is done.

About a year ago, auto industry analyst JATO Dynamics reported that sales of electrified passenger vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure EVs) had overtaken those of diesels for the first time ever. Now the next milestone has been passed—in August, plug-in vehicles (plug-in hybrids and pure EVs) outsold diesels in Europe for the first time, taking a 21% share of the market, compared to 20% for diesels.

In Europe as a whole, gasoline-powered vehicles are still the top-selling category (56% of the market), although in a few of the most advanced markets they too are plainly on their last laps (in Norway in August, electrified vehicles, led by Tesla’s Model Y, reached a market share of 92%).

Twitter: Jato Dynamics

The overall auto market is sharply down, largely thanks to the ongoing supply-chain crisis, but EV sales continue to grow. According to JATO’s figures, which include data from 26 European markets, new car registrations fell by 18% in August, to the lowest volume for that month since 2014. However, plug-in vehicle sales saw a year-on-year increase of 61% in August.

“Although deals and incentives have played a significant part in boosting demand, we have seen a fundamental shift in buying habits as more appealing models have entered the market and consumers have become aware of the benefits attached to EVs,” said Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics.

Europe’s top-selling pure EV in August was the Volkswagen ID.3, which sold 7,904 units to beat Tesla’s Model 3 by a whisker (7,824 units). The Tesla Model Y came out of the gate like a thoroughbred—during its first month on the European market, it sold 3,478 units to take the #8 spot among EVs. Deliveries of German-built Model Ys, produced at the new Berlin Gigafactory, are scheduled to begin in December.


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: JATO Dynamics

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