EV sales figures suggest surge in 2018

Sales of battery electric vehicles in Europe are expected to rise from around 126,000 to 200,000 this year, according to forecasts from the car industry. The figures indicate a growing realisation by carmakers that they need to engage with electric vehicle technology to meet emissions standards.

As recently as 2010, there were fewer than 700 full electric vehicles (cars powered only by batteries, as opposed to plug-in hybrid cars that mix electric and petrol/diesel technology) sold in the EU. By the end of 2015 the number had exceeded 50,000, according to the EEA. But collectively, just six member states accounted for almost 90% of all electric vehicle sales – Germany, Denmark, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Now the automotive forecasting agency LMC has said the total BEV sales for 2017 in the whole of the EU will be around 126,000, based on sales in the first 10 months of last year, and it expects the total sold this year to hit 200,000. The figures were reported in Automotive News Europe’s monthly magazine.

T&E’s clean vehicles director, Greg Archer, said: ‘The good news is that the growth of e-vehicles is starting to accelerate, which will help decarbonise Europe’s road transport. The bad news is that there is still far too little choice or marketing of plug-in vehicles. The EU should look to introduce as part of the forthcoming car CO2 regulation for 2025 a mandate on sales to drive the industry forward.’

The best-selling battery electric vehicle in 2017 was the Renault Zoe, followed by the Nissan Leaf, the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3. The cost of batteries declined by 24% in 2017 to $209/KWh and in some markets are already competitive on a cost of ownership basis. Prices are expected to fall further to below $100/KWh by 2025, the level at which vehicles are likely to be priced similarly to engined cars.

LMC predicts that BEV sales in the EU will reach 600,000 by 2020, rising to one million in 2022. It says the most popular electric car in 2020 is likely to be the Tesla Model 3, with the Renault Zoe, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf and VW ID EV also selling well.

Outside the EU, Norway has offered the biggest financial incentives to encourage the take-up of EVs – by 2015, 22.5% of all vehicles sold in Norway were either purely electric or hybrid, a percentage that the Norwegian Road Federation said had risen to 52% by the end of last year.

• A T&E report on the sourcing of the raw materials needed to make batteries for e-vehicles – in particular precious metals – has concluded that the materials exist, but there are social and environmental issues in extracting them in sufficient amounts to meet demand. T&E’s conclusions match those of a German report that also found that there is enough lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite and platinum available, but there are problems associated with high energy consumption in mining, acid mine drainage, water conflicts between mining companies and indigenous peoples, and poor working conditions in mines, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Global Battery Alliance established by the World Economic Forum, to which T&E recently contributed, is now working to address these issues.