Electric overtakes diesel car sales in EU for first time

With a 14% share in new car sales from January to October 2023, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have overtaken diesel cars’ cumulative share (13,9%) in the European Union for the first time. Registration of BEVs increased by 36,3% in October to reach 121 808 units. Belgium (+143%) and Denmark (+100,7%) contributed quite a bit to that expansion.

In Germany, the EU’s largest market for fully electric cars, sales growth slowed to +4,3%, bringing the total number of BEVs sold in the first ten months of 2023 to 1,2 million units. If you add the numbers of the EFTA countries with BEV leader Norway (83,5% electric) and the UK, the electric car has a share of 15,2% compared to 12,2% for diesel.

Belgian fear of cold water

Those are figures from the European Car Manufacturers Federation ACEA. According to figures from the Belgian car and two-wheeler federation Febiac published earlier, the new car market in Belgium and Luxembourg rose again by 26,6% in October compared to the year before. The cumulative result is 413 308 new cars for the first ten months (+32,5%); the expectation is to land at around 475 000 new registrations for 2023.

In Belgium, gasoline cars are still the majority (43,1%), driven mainly by the private market, which hesitates to go electric due to high purchase prices and range anxiety prejudices, as several surveys keep revealing.

That fear of getting stuck with an empty battery remains a significant driver in the company car market, with plug-in hybrids being more prevalent than elsewhere in Europe. With a 20,8% share, they surpass BEVs (18,7%) and HEVs (7,6%). Diesel fell drastically from 78% in 2008 to 9,1% in 2023.

Diesel near death in Netherlands

In Luxembourg, diesel is still holding stronger with 15,3%, while BEVs (22,3%) outperform HEVs (19,1%) and PHEVs (9,7%). Gasoline cars contribute to one-third of the market (33,7%).

If you compare with that other Belgian neighbor, the Netherlands, BEVs (29,5%) are getting close to overtaking gasoline (31,6%), with HEVs (24,2%) and PHEVs (13%) remaining popular while diesel, which was never a big favorite of the Dutch, sinking away to 1,1%.

PHEV is a Belgian favorite

Looking back to the bigger picture, gasoline cars remain king in the whole Union, with a 35,8% share. In October 2023, gasoline car sales grew by 8,1%, with Italy (+21%), France (+17,4%), Spain (+7,7%), and Germany (+7,5%) contributing the most.

Following gasoline are the classic hybrids (25,5%), BEVs (14%), and plug-in hybrids trailing with 7,6%. These PHEV sales dropped by 5% year on year to 72 002 units last month. Despite notable increases in Belgium (+70,2%) and France (+34,2%), which were countered by Germany’s decline (-49%), ACEA notes.


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