Battery electric car grabs 12% share of new sales in Europe

The battery electric car (BEV) has grown its market share in new car registrations in 2022 with 3% to 12,1% overall. Still, range anxiety apparently drives more Europeans to a classic hybrid (22,6%) instead of electric to replace diesel and gasoline cars. Together, the latter still represent 52,8% of new car sales, even with diesel going down by 19,7% to 16,3% market share.

When looking at the total fleet of passenger cars in Europe, the latest figures from ACEA point to a 1,2% growth in 2021 to nearly 250 million cars on the road. EU cars are now, on average, 12 years old, and despite recent booming EV sales, BEVs and plug-in hybrids only represent 1,5% of the total fleet.

BEV boost in Belgium

In Belgium, 37 638 BEVs were sold in 2022, a boost of 66% compared to the year before, and almost exclusively driven by the company cars rushing to switch to electric before they become mandatory in 2026. Still small beer compared to the Netherlands (73 394), Sweden (95 035), or Norway (138 287), traditional forerunners in BEV sales in Europe.

Germany, with 471 394 BEVs sold (+32,3%), and France, with 203 122 (+25,3%), are also accelerating as the biggest markets in the EU, while Italy sold only 49 179 BEVs. That’s remarkably 26,9% less than the year before. In total, 1 123 778 new battery electric cars were registered in Europe, a growth of 28% compared to 2021.

PHEVs losing seductiveness

Plug-in hybrids are losing their seductiveness with only a nominal growth of +1,2% to a total of 864 103 PHEVs registered in the EU. But not in Belgium, where 59 281 PHEVs were registered, still 24,1% more than the year before, which is as much as diesel cars, or almost double of pure electric vehicles. To compare, in the Netherlands, PHEVs accounted for only half of the number of BEVs, with 34 512 cars registered.

Non-plugin hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), like the ones pioneer Toyota keeps on pushing hard, saw a growth in Belgium of +40,3 % to 27 472 units, at the expense of diesel (-34,1%) and gasoline (-10,1%). Still, these traditional combustion engine cars represent 65% of total registrations in 2022, with gasoline (179 056 or 48,8%) and diesel (59 972 or 16,3%).

In total, gasoline and diesel cars still represent 52,8% of all new cars registered in the EU /ACEA

Disappearing into nothingness

While the energy transition to electric is gaining momentum in Europe, the absolute figures disappear into nothingness when looking at the total car fleet driving around on the roads.

According to ACEA’s latest ‘Vehicles in use in Europe 2023’ report, with figures updated until the end of 2021, plug-in electric vehicles account for only 1,5% of the total fleet of 250 million passenger cars actually in use.

Only three EU countries have a share of battery electric cars higher than 2%: Denmark (2,4%), Sweden (2,2%), and the Netherlands (2,8%), with outsider Norway (16,2%) as the absolute forerunner.

On average 12 years old

The total picture of Europe’s car fleet today is far less environmentally friendly, with cars on average being 12 years old over the 27 member states. The oldest are still driving in Greece (17 years old) or in Eastern European countries like Estonia (16,8), the Czech Republic (15,6), Romania (15,1), or Poland (14,5), to mention a few of them.

In Belgium, where constant renewal of the company car fleet every four to five years keeps the average lower, this is 9,5 years old. Still, there were 1 997 148 cars older than ten years driving around in 2021, on a total passenger car fleet of 5 851 682. To compare, in the Netherlands, the average is 11,4 years old; still, 4,4 million out of a total of 9,1 million cars are older than ten.

When looking at the fuel used spread over the total European car fleet, gasoline cars account for more than half at 51,1%, diesel 41,9%, while BEVs represent 0,8%, PHEVs 0,7%, and HEVs 2,3%.

Light commercial vehicles like vans average in the EU 12 years old. Trucks are, on average, 14,2 years old, with Greece again being the tail-tender with an average age of 22,7 years old. More than 96% of all trucks in the European Union run on diesel and only 0,1% on zero-emission powertrains.

Far more buses in Belgium

Buses on EU roads are, on average, 12,7 years old unless driving in Romania, where they average +20 years. With 92,5% of the fleet running on diesel, there is still some transition to accomplish. However, significant shares of electric buses can be found in the Netherlands (14,5%) and Luxembourg (7,8%).

Another remarkable figure catches the eye when talking about buses, with Belgium having 16 606 buses for 11,5 million inhabitants, while the Netherlands only needs 9 316 buses for 17,8 million residents. A question of piling up passengers more efficiently?












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