Electric car sales not taking off in lower-income EU countries, new data shows

Barcelona, 9 May 2019 – The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published new data highlighting the correlation between the affordability of electric cars and their market uptake. This ACEA analysis compares national data on the sales of electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs) with GDP per capita in the EU member states for the full-year 2018.

The new ACEA data shows that all countries with an ECV market share of less than 1% – that is half of all EU member states – have a GDP per capita below €29,000. This is the case in several southern countries – such as Spain, Italy and Greece – as well as in Central and Eastern European countries, like Lithuania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.

In Latvia, for instance, only 93 electric cars were sold last year. Poland has the lowest uptake of electric cars in the EU, with an ECV market share of just 0.2%. By contrast, an ECV share of above 3.5% only occurs in countries with a GDP of more than €42,000, like Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The EU institutions recently approved the new CO2 regulation for passenger cars, setting reduction targets of -15% and -37.5% for the years 2025 and 2030 respectively. These targets will follow on from the target of 95g CO2/km for the year 2021, set in 2013.

Sales of electric and other alternatively-powered cars will have to pick up strongly if these CO2 targets are to be achieved. Unfortunately, however, in 2018 only 2% of all new passenger cars registered throughout the EU were electrically-chargeable.

“Besides investing in charging infrastructure, governments across the EU need to put in place meaningful and sustainable incentives in order to encourage more consumers to make the switch to electric,” explained ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert at a press conference in Barcelona.

“People throughout the EU should be able to consider purchasing an electric vehicle – no matter which country they live in – north or south, east or west. The affordability of the latest low- and zero-emission technologies needs to be addressed by governments as a matter of priority.”

Although fiscal measures to stimulate electric car sales are available in nearly all EU states, the nature and monetary value of these benefits varies widely. Indeed, while most countries grant simple tax reductions or exemptions for electric cars, only 12 EU member states offer premiums or bonus payments to buyers of these vehicles.

Notes for editors

About the EU automobile industry

  • 12.9 million Europeans work in the automotive sector
  • 8.3% of all manufacturing jobs in the EU
  • €392.2 billion in tax revenue for European governments
  • €101.9 billion trade surplus for the European Union
  • Over 7% of EU GDP generated by the auto industry
  • €59.1 billion in R&D spending annually, 31% of EU total
Content type Press release
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