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While representing only a small fraction of overall sales, the electric vehicles figures were still a massive improvement on the previous year when around 24,203 were sold. Just 700 plug-ins were sold in 2010.
The surge was lead by three models that sold around 8,000 each, according to the data provided by the European Environment Agency. The Renault Zoe (pictured), Mitsubishi Outlander and Volvo V60 Plug-in were also new entrants to the market.
Sales of the previous year’s best-selling models, the Opel Ampera and Peugeot Citroen iOn/C-zero, fell significantly as they struggled to keep pace with new competition.
‘Electric vehicles can play an important role in the shift to more sustainable mobility, and their increasing sales are being driven by carmakers’ need to innovate to meet EU CO2 regulations,’ said T&E’s clean vehicles programme manager, Greg Archer.
T&E’s Electric Vehicles in 2013 report also highlights how Europe constitutes a quarter of the global market for plug-in vehicles including hybrids. Sales in California remain the highest in the world, largely driven by a mandate requiring manufacturers to sell electric vehicles. T&E advocates a similar system for the EU instead of the existing ‘supercredits’ that reduce the need for carmakers to improve the efficiency of their non-electric fleet.
In Europe the report cites new car emissions standards as the best way to ensure future investment in low-carbon technology. Brussels has witnessed sustained lobbying by German carmakers to include transport in the emissions trading scheme (ETS) which, the report cautions, would lead to higher transport emissions, more oil imports and less innovation as the ETS wouldn’t require emissions reductions.
‘Including transport in the emissions trading scheme would put a brake on low-carbon vehicle innovation. Emissions standards complemented by targets for ultralow carbon efficient cars will ensure the current rapid pace of innovation is maintained,’ Archer concluded.
Cars currently account for 15% of Europe’s CO2 emissions. Tighter EU limits for car emissions are in place, with a fleet average of 130g of CO2 per km required for 2015 and 95g/km for 2021. However, the 2015 target was met two years early.