EU car registrations: EV surge slows down

According to the data of the European Car Manufacturers Association ACEA, the EU new car market in January 2024 rebounded from the slowdown experienced in December 2023, with year-on-year car registrations increasing by 12.1% to 851,690 units.

Notably, the bloc’s major markets all saw significant growth, with Germany (+19.1%), Italy
(+10.6%), France (+9.2%) and Spain (+7.3%) achieving either high single-digit or double-
digit gains.

In January, battery electric cars accounted for 10.9% of the market share (up from 9.5% in
January 2023), while hybrid-electric cars commanded a share of nearly 30%, solidifying their
position as the second most preferred choice among EU car buyers. However, comparing only to January last year is misleading when it comes to seeing trends. We’ll come back to that later.

The combined market share of petrol and diesel cars totaled almost 50% in January 2024, marking a decline from 54% one year ago.

Electrified

In January 2024, new battery-electric car sales surged by 28.9% to 92,741 units, representing a total market share of 10.9%. The four largest markets in the region, together covering 66% of all battery-electric car registrations, recorded robust double-digit gains: Belgium (+75.5%), the Netherlands (+72.2%), France (+36.8%), and Germany (+23.9%).

In January, new EU registrations of hybrid-electric cars increased by 23.5%, propelled by
significant growth in the four biggest markets: Spain (+26.5%), France (+29.9%), Germany
(+24.3%), and Italy (+14.2%). This led to the sale of 245,068 units in the first month of 2024,
representing 28.8% of the EU market share.

Sales of plug-in hybrid electric cars rebounded after a decline in December 2023, rising by
23.8% to 66,660 units in January 2024. This growth was primarily driven by significant
increases in key markets such as Belgium (+65.2%) and Germany (+62.6%). As a result,
plug-in hybrid electric cars now represent 7.8% of total car sales in the EU.

Petrol and diesel

In January 2024, the EU petrol car market expanded by 4%, propelled by notable increases
in key markets such as Italy (+26.7%) and Germany (+16.9%). Despite maintaining its lead
with 35.2% of the market in January, the share of petrol cars decreased from 37.9% in the
same month in 2023.

Conversely, the EU diesel car market contracted by 4.9% in January. This decline was
evident in several markets, including three of the largest: France (-23.4%), Spain (-10.2%)
and Italy (-8.7%).

However, Germany diverged from this trend with a 4.3% growth rate. In
January 2024, diesel car sales reached 114,415 units, accounting for a market share of
13.4%, down from 15.8% in 2023.

Looking briefly into the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) and the UK, we see the same tendencies as in the EU, with some local differences, like a huge surge of BEV sales in Norway (+281,3%) compared to January last year.

By Brand

By brand, the Volkswagen Group leads the pack in the EU, increasing its sales by 11,5% compared to January last year. Stellantis increased its sales by 15% and stays second, also upping its market share from 18,6 to 19,1%.

Third is the Renault Group, where sales decreased a little bit (-2,9%), resulting in a market share of 10,1% (compared to 11,7%). Fourth is Toyota Group, increasing sales by 15%; fifth is Hyundai Group (+0,5%); sixth is BMW Group (+28,2%); seventh is Mercedes-Benz (-7,5%).

Also in the top ten: Ford (8th, -10,2% in sales), Volvo Cars (9th, +34,9%), and Nissan (10th, +31,6%). Other notorious growers are Tesla (11th, +66,9%), SAIC Motor (14th, +69,5%),  Mitsubishi (18th, +96,4%), and Honda (19th, +36,9%). For these last two, we’re evidently talking small numbers here.

EV slowdown

When one compares only month-to-month, like ACEA, this can be a little dangerous at the beginning of the year and lead to some distortion in the comparison.

In fact, where EVs were still registering a (fairly modest) increase in registrations compared to January last year, their market share, for example, fell from 14.6% for the whole year 2023 to 10.9% in the first month of 2024. It means that diesel (13,4% market share) is ahead of BEVs again.

Also, hybrids have regressed a little bit when compared to the full year of 2023. In fact, the EU  car market in total was just increasing by 12.1% because we are comparing with a very modest January 2023, when the consequences of semiconductor shortage and delivery problems were still very noticeable.

It is a fact that the surging sales of electrified vehicles have been slowing down lately. One of the causes was, of course, the sudden disappearance of EV subsidies in Germany last December, the biggest European market, where BEV sales really collapsed, and manufacturers were almost obliged to take over the promised premiums to soot the customers.

No EV appetite from individual buyers in Belgium

Meanwhile, Deloitte’s yearly Global Automotive Consumer Study partly focused on the Belgian consumer and interviewed 1,000 Belgian consumers about their preferences in October 2023.

The survey shows that the average individual buyer in Belgium still swears by an ICE car, and only 12% of them are considering a BEV as their next car. 17% are thinking of a hybrid vehicle, 10% are still interested in a plug-in hybrid.

“While the company car market in Belgium evolves quickly to a completely electric future, individual buyers are definitely not convinced yet,” says Aled Walker, Automotive leader at Deloitte Belgium. “The high price of existing BEVs is the biggest hurdle, more than in all other countries. Consumers are eagerly waiting for more affordable models,” he adds.

The second most important argument for Belgian consumers against BEVs is still the range. Only one out of four would consider a BEV with a range of less than 400 km. A very strange phenomenon when one knows that the average distance driven every day in Belgium lies around… 40 km.

Nevertheless, sustainability is also a growing concern for the Belgian buyer. 44% indicate that the environment is an important factor in deciding about the next purchased vehicle. The problem for BEVs is that they have doubts about the end-to-end environmental score of a battery electric vehicle.

Shared mobility

Finally, and also important, is the fact that one Belgian out of three is simply hesitating about the purchase of a car altogether. Shared mobility solutions have become increasingly attractive, although this is not mirrored yet in the buying intentions.

“Nevertheless, it’s clear that the traditional model of car possession is more and more doubted. One out of four of the consumers aged under 34 years is considering a car subscription of some kind instead of ownership. Flexibility and cost are key factors here,” concludes Walker.

 

 

 

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