Fuel types of new cars: battery electric 5.7%, hybrid 18.4%, petrol 42.2% market share in Q1 2021

Brussels, 23 April 2021 – In the first quarter of 2021, hybrid electric vehicles made up 18.4% of total passenger car sales in the EU, almost doubling their market share in a year. Demand for electrically-chargeable cars also increased during these three months: battery electric vehicles made up 5.7% of all new cars, while plug-in hybrids accounted for 8.2% of EU registrations. Sales of traditional fossil-fuel cars continued to decrease in the European Union, although petrol and diesel still made up 65.4% of the car market.

Petrol and diesel cars

From January to March 2021, diesel volumes fell 20.1% compared to a year ago to reach 593,559 cars sold across the European Union. Diesel now holds a market share of 23.2%, down from 29.9% in the first quarter of 2020. Most EU markets posted double-digit declines in this segment, including three of the four major ones: Germany (-29.4%), Spain (-28.3%) and France (-11.1%).

Similarly, demand for petrol cars continued its downward trend, with sales decreasing by 16.9% from 1.3 million units sold in Q1 2020 to 1.1 million so far this year. As a result, petrol’s share of the EU car market shrank from 52.3% in the first quarter of 2020 to 42.2% during the same period in 2021. With the exception of France (+8.3%), registrations of petrol cars fell in all major EU markets during the three-month period: Germany (-30.0%), Spain (-25.7%) and Italy (-4.8%).

Alternatively-powered vehicles (APV)

During the first quarter of the year, registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the EU increased by 59.1% to reach 146,185 cars, with demand still benefiting from government stimuli for zero-emission vehicles. This growth was spurred by big gains in key EU markets, most notably in Germany (+149.0%) and Italy (+145.6%). By contrast, demand for battery electric cars declined in Spain (-12.6%) from January to March.

Registrations of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) jumped by 175.0%, totalling 208,389 units. One of the drivers of this growth was Italy, where 16,103 plug-in cars were registered in the first quarter – a year-on-year increase of 445.7%. The EU’s three other major markets also saw two-fold, or even three-fold, gains in the PHEV segment so far this year: Germany (+195.4%), France (+231.4%) and Spain (+116.1%).

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) remained the largest volume category of alternatively-powered passenger cars in the EU, with 469,784 units registered from January to March 2021 (an increase of 101.6% compared to the same period last year). Registrations of hybrids rose nearly everywhere in the region, including Italy (+246.8%), France (+135.0%), Germany (+60.5%) and Spain (+39.4%).

Demand for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in the European Union declined by 10.1% to 14,300 units during the first quarter, despite registrations increasing by 24.5% in Italy (the largest EU market for these vehicles). Sales of LPG-fuelled cars, on the other hand, almost doubled (+92.7%) to reach 46,037 units, boosted by remarkable gains in France (+1,748.6%; now the second largest EU market for LPG cars) and Italy (+23.9%), which accounted for more than half of total LPG sales.


About ACEA

  • The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) represents the 15 major Europe-based car, van, truck and bus makers: BMW Group, CNH Industrial, DAF Trucks, Daimler, Ferrari, Ford of Europe, Honda Motor Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault Group, Stellantis, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, and Volvo Group.
  • Visit www.acea.auto for more information about ACEA, and follow us on www.twitter.com/ACEA_auto or www.linkedin.com/company/ACEA/.
  • Contact: Francesca Piazza, Statistics Manager, fp@acea.auto.

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About the EU automobile industry

  • 12.6 million Europeans work in the auto industry (directly and indirectly), accounting for 6.6% of all EU jobs.
  • 11.6% of EU manufacturing jobs – some 3.5 million – are in the automotive sector.
  • Motor vehicles are responsible for €398.4 billion of tax revenue for governments across key European markets.
  • The automobile industry generates a trade surplus of €76.3 billion for the EU.
  • The turnover generated by the auto industry represents more than 8% of the EU’s GDP.
  • Investing €62 billion in R&D annually, the automotive sector is Europe’s largest private contributor to innovation, accounting for 33% of total EU spending.
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