Trump’s US relegates the EU to the third place in EV race

March 6, 2019

Latest electric passenger car sales data from 2018 shows that the US has overtaken Europe in the numbers of electric vehicles (EV1) sold, by around 60,000 units. This is despite the EU being much more committed to climate action than the US where the Trump administration is dismantling.

While in the US Tesla is driving the EV market to new highs, the EU EV market is driven by compliance. Sales are being suppressed in the run-up to the 2020/2021 CO2 emissions standard seen by model launch delays and long waiting times. The number of new zero-emission models on the European market will surge from 7 in 2018 to 20, 33, and 45 new models in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively.

This sales suppression is reinforced by the continuous protection of diesel sales and the withdrawal of some plug-in hybrids to upgrade them to comply with the new CO2 emissions test (WLTP). Europeans might have lost the 2018 battle but the race is still on. There are good signs that the market is maturing, with increasing diversity of models and shift towards a higher proportion of battery electric cars in the EV mix.

For the first time the EU EV market reached 2% share, with the top markets being Sweden (8%), Netherlands (6.7%), Finland (4.7%) and Portugal (3.4%). An effective policy framework will help drive the market beyond compliance, including a smart reform of national vehicle taxation, faster roll-out of charging infrastructure in line with the sales growth, and robust industrial policy to ensure EU companies capture the entire EV and battery value chain.

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