More than half a million EVs will be on Europe’s roads by the end of the year

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According to a new report, there will be more than half a million electric vehicles (EVs) on European roads by the end of 2016. Europe is now the second largest market for purely electric cars in the world, behind China.

Transport has now become the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe, with cars responsible for 15% of the continent’s total CO? emissions and the largest source of emissions in the transport sector.

The EU’s rules on carbon emissions require car manufacturers to limit their car emissions to a maximum of 95 grams of CO? per kilometer (g CO2/km) by 2021. The European Commission has agreed to propose early next year stricter CO? limits on cars to be achieved by 2025. These factors have all played a role in governments providing incentives and encouragement for the adoption of low emission vehicles.

According to the new study by Transport & Environment (T&E), an organization that campaigns for smarter, cleaner transport in Europe, the sales of plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the European Union (EU) doubled in 2015 compared with 2014, reaching 145,000 units sold, the biggest year-on-year sales increase to date.

The Netherlands tops the list of EV sales in Europe for the third year in a row, with an 8.8% share of EV sales across the continent. Norway is second in terms of absolute sales, but has a much higher market share, with 18.7% of its national auto market composed of EVs. The Dutch market is mainly plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) models, while those in Norway are predominantly battery electric vehicles (BEVs). The UK sells the second largest total number of EVs, although it is notable that PHEVs dominate in sales, even though the purchase incentive offered is markedly less.

France has the second biggest share of BEVs reflecting the relatively generous bonus under its CO?-based bonus-malus car purchasing scheme. Germany has a very ambitious electromobility scheme that aims for one million EVs on its streets by 2020. However, the country has only recently introduced any incentives that should increase demand, which helps explain the fact that only 0.7% of total vehicle sales in Germany were EVs.

Sales of electric vans are a fraction of those of electric cars, with very limited availability of models in the market at the moment. Cars and vans are not the most popular electric vehicles on sale in Europe – T&E estimated that last year there were between five and eight million e-bikes and e-scooters on the continent’s roads.

Julia Hildermeier, T&E’s electromobility officer, said, “The electromobility revolution is underway and Europe is well placed to take a leading position. To fully grab this chance, Europe needs four important boosts from regulators: ambitious European CO? limits for new cars in 2025, including a specific target for EV sales to stimulate competition among carmakers; to accelerate the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure across Europe; to ban dirty diesels from cities; and tax breaks for battery electric vehicles.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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