Electric vehicle sales in Europe continued their meteoric rise in the first half of this year, up 45 percent over the same period in 2022 and reaching a market share of about 15 percent. After starting from a low single-digit EV share in 2019, the continent would appear to be well on its way to meeting a 2035 EU deadline to sell only zero-emission vehicles.
And for the first time, an electric car, the Tesla Model Y, was the best-selling model in Europe in a six-month period.
But a closer look at the numbers reveals that EV adoption remains closely linked to regulations and incentives; that conditions vary greatly from country to country; and that there is a growing divide between wealthy western and northern countries and poorer ones in the south and east.
At the same time, supply constraints that favored automakers have largely eased, and EVs now face a market that is suddenly much more competitive.
Those factors, along with worries in many countries about inflation, mean that EV sales growth is likely to slow in the coming years, experts told Automotive News Europe.
“The overall market demand for EVs is not going to stall, but the rate of growth probably is going to decrease,” said Pedro Pacheco, an analyst at Gartner.
“One of the trends we defined for 2023 is that this year is going to be the moment of truth for EVs,” Pacheco said, citing the end of key incentives, especially in Germany; rising energy prices; and competition from Tesla and China that is putting pressure on Europe’s legacy automakers to develop better electric cars, or reevaluate their pricing.
Even so, many automakers say they don’t plan to change their plans to transition their lineups to all-electric cars, in some cases more than five years ahead of 2035.
“We are perfectly on track and we will continue to push in that direction,” Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said at the end of July about the automaker’s EV strategy. “Everything we see right now is saying we want to go faster, we want to go deeper, so there is no reason to change strategy.”
Among Stellantis brands, Opel aims to be electric-only by 2028, and Peugeot by 2030, with DS launching only full-electric cars starting next year. Other brands that plan an early switch include Audi (launching only full EVs from 2026), Volvo (electric-only lineup by 2030) and Ford of Europe (an electric-only passenger car lineup by 2030).