More than 500,000 plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles will be on European roads by the end of this year, according to a forecast by the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, countering stereotypes that the U.S. market is further ahead in deploying the zero-emission technology thanks to cars such as the Tesla Model S.
T&E said its analysis of cumulative sales in the EU and EFTA markets suggest the number might even approach 600,000, based upon data from the European auto industry group ACEA combined with the information from the European Environment Agency.
Including Norway, which has heavily subsidized electric vehicles despite its vast oil wealth, some 84,520 pure EVs were sold last year in Europe, T&E said in a statement. This makes the region the second-largest EV market after China which had EV sales of 146,720. When plug-in hybrids are factored in, the number of electrified vehicles sold in Europe was 145,000 in 2015, according to T&E.
Sales of electrified vehicles reached the important milestone of a 1 percent share of the 13.7 million new-car sales in the EU last year after several false dawns. T&E said. "The electromobility revolution is underway and Europe is well placed to take a leading position," said Julia Hildermeier, the group’s electromobility officer. She pointed to recent announcements from carmakers such as Volkswagen Group, which said in June that it aims to sell 2 million to 3 million electric cars across the entire group annually by 2025.
Mitsubishi was the top seller of electrified vehicles in Europe in 2015 with a volume of 28,175, accounting for 23 percent of all its sales in the region. The Outlander plug-in hybrid accounted for most of those sales at 27,977 units, making the SUV the top-selling electrified vehicle. The Renault Zoe EV was No. 2 with sales of 16,621. The new VW Golf GTE plug-in hybrid was No. 3 with almost 15,000 registrations. The Nissan Leaf EV fell one notch to No. 4 with 11,977 units sold.