2021 Progress Report – Making the transition to zero-emission mobility

The 2021 update of the annual ‘Making the Transition to Zero-Emission Mobility’ report covers the progress made in the European Union on the key enabling factors for alternatively-powered passenger cars and vans.

This year – as part of its ‘Fit for 55’ climate package – the European Commission is reviewing the CO2 emission standards for new cars and vans, and proposing further reductions. As part of the same package, the Commission is also publishing its proposal for a review of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID).

The auto industry’s investments in alternatively-powered vehicles are paying off: in 2020 more than one in 10 cars registered in the EU was electrically chargeable. However, this positive trend can only be sustained if governments start making matching investments in infrastructure, and put in place meaningful and sustainable incentives.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) publishes this statistical Progress Report – now in its fourth edition – on an annual basis in order to monitor the availability of charging and refuelling infrastructure as well as the affordability of zero-emission vehicles. The aim is to track progress on these key enabling factors over time.

The 2021 edition of the ACEA Progress Report covers:

Market uptake of alternatively-powered vehicles


Infrastructure availability

In addition, the Progress Report provides a comprehensive glossary that explains the various types of alternatively-powered vehicles and the infrastructure that each requires.

The report gives a factual, data-driven picture of progress, bringing together all available data sources (ACEA, EAFO, EEA, Eurostat, IHS Markit). In all cases it is the latest available full-year data for the European Union.

In 2020, more than 1 in 10 cars registered in the EU was electrically chargeable. This positive trend can only be sustained if governments start making investments in charging infrastructure and put in place meaningful and sustainable incentives.

Key findings

Market uptake alternatively-powered cars and vans

  • 5.4% of all cars sold in 2020 were battery electric (+5.1 percentage points since 2014).
  • 5.1% of total car sales were plug-in hybrids (up 4.9 percentage points over seven years).
  • 11.9% of new cars in the EU were hybrid electric last year (+10.5 percentage points).
  • 0.6% of all cars sold were natural gas-powered (-0.4 percentage points since 2014).
  • Fuel cell vehicles accounted for a small share (0.01%) of total EU car sales in 2020.
  • 4.2% of new van sales were alternatively-powered last year.
  • In 2020, 1.9% of all vans sold were battery electric (+1.3 percentage points over seven years), and 0.1% were plug-in hybrids (+0.1%).
  • Hybrid electric vans made up 0.9% of the total market last year (+0.9% since 2014).


  • The market uptake of electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs) is directly correlated to a country’s GDP per capita, showing that affordability remains a major barrier to consumers.
  • Countries with a total ECV market share of less than 3% have an average GDP of below €17,000, including EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe, but also Greece.
  • 73% of all electric car sales are concentrated in just four Western European countries with some of the highest GDPs.

Infrastructure availability

  • Although there has been a strong growth in the deployment of charging infrastructure since 2014 (+750% from a very low base), the total number of charging points available across the EU (less than 225,000) falls far short of what is required.
  • Under 25,000 of those points are suitable for fast charging (with a capacity of > 22kW), while ‘normal’ points account for the vast majority (about 200,000). Just 1 in 9 charging points in the EU is a fast charger.
  • Based on Commission calculations, a further decrease of car CO2 emissions to -50% in 2030 would require some 6 million public infrastructure points. This translates into a 27-fold increase in less than a decade.
  • 70% all EU charging stations are concentrated in three countries in Western Europe: the Netherlands (66,665), France (45,751) and Germany (44,538). Together, these countries make up just 23% of the EU’s total surface area.
  • 124 hydrogen filling stations were available across 10 EU countries in 2020; 17 member states did not have any at all.
  • The EU counts some 4,000 natural gas filling stations, up 31.6% since 2015. Two-thirds of these are concentrated in two countries alone (Italy and Germany).


Reproduction of the content of this document is not permitted without the prior written consent of ACEA. Whenever reproduction is permitted, ACEA shall be referred to as source of the information. Quoting or referring to this document is permitted provided ACEA is referred to as the source of the information. 

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