Europe is poised to lead global growth in electric-car sales next year as governments across the region offer consumers ever-sweeter incentives toward the purchase of new vehicles.
Momentum is building in a market that is already the world's second-biggest -- well behind China but significantly ahead of North America -- as the European Union on Wednesday set in motion an unprecedented plan to become net neutral on carbon emissions by mid-century.
With automakers already facing the stark choice of either offloading emissions-free vehicles or paying stiff EU penalties on polluting models, 2020 is shaping up as do or die for the industry.
"It's better to subsidize electric cars than to pay high fines for selling combustion engines," said NordLB analyst Frank Schwope. "We should see steady gains in the numbers next year."
In Europe, sales of full-electric and plug-in hybrid cars are expected to grow 35 percent in the first nine months of 2020, a rate far higher than China and North America, according to BloombergNEF. Full-electric vehicles have long outpaced plug-in hybrids in the three regions.
The forecast is for 32 percent growth in Europe this year, compared with a cooling of the market in China as the government pulls back on subsidies and in North America as Tesla sends more Model 3s abroad.
The push to sell is taking on greater urgency as companies like Volkswagen Group spend record amounts to roll out new models. In Europe, electric cars still represent a relatively small proportion of the market -- although the share is approaching that of China.