While plug-in electric cars accounted for just 0.3% of new car sales across the EU, overall sales increased 37% in 2014. These numbers have continued to rise into the first three months of 2015, too, as sales have seen a 117.9% year-on-year increase.
We’ve also seen an increase in the number of hybrid vehicles sold. Hybrids combine a traditional internal combustion engine with an internal lithium-ion battery. This allows drivers to make short journeys using only the power of the battery, while switching to the diesel or petrol-based engine for longer journeys for an overall improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. A total of 56,704 hybrid vehicles were sold between January and March 2015, representing a 21.4% percent increase on the same time frame last year.
The UK saw the biggest increase in new electric vehicle sales in 2014, with its pure-electric sales jumping from 2,719 in 2013 to 7,416 last year. The Brits also had a booming year for plug-in hybrids and range-extender hybrids, with sales jumping from 1,114 in 2013 to 7,945 last year. Despite the large growth, however, the UK still didn’t represent the largest consumer of plug-ins in the EU last year, with the Netherlands taking 9,938 cars, followed by the UK, then Germany (4,596), Poland (3,887), Sweden (3,428), and Austria (2,360).
Adoption is helped by £5,000 bonus plus tax exemptions and exemptions from London’s congestion charge. Similar schemes are being implemented by governments around the government in attempt to convince drivers to make the switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles.
France is the latest to offer incentives, with Ségoléne Royal, the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, announcing that anybody who swaps an older diesel-powered vehicle for an electric one starting will recieve a bonus of up to €10,000 starting from April of this year. Combined, the pure-electric and plug-in hybrid volumes made the UK the biggest electric market in the EU, though its 15,361 sales were outdone by Norway’s 19,767.
One of the reasons total electric car adoption numbers are so low is that the continent’s biggest pure-electric vehicle consumer, Norway, is not an EU state. The country, whose government heavily subsidies eco-friendly vehicles, saw 18,090 sales of its own over the same period as the market has grown 129% in the last year.
The country’s high subsidies on electric vehicles mean that one in five cars sold so far in 2015 are now battery-powered. The Nissan Leaf, a plug-in electric compact hatchback, and the Tesla Model S, a plug-in electric full-size lift back, are regularly leading monthly sales figures, though other popular models can also be seen with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Renaut Zoe, and VW-eGolf. All of which sold over 1,000 units in the month of March.