Europe arrived at the electric party a couple of years later than the US, but is now quickly making up for lost time. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Autofacts group estimates that European sales of electrified vehicles (including EVs, PHEVs, mild and full hybrids) will grow 433% to 2.2 million units by 2021.
The consultancy found that plug-in vehicle sales grew 82% from September 2014 to September 2015, while sales of mild and full hybrids increased 22% during the same period. PwC attributes the growth to several factors, including consumer desire for lower emissions, the maturing of electric technologies, and continued government incentives.
Norway is the leading growth market, with 24,855 new vehicle registrations during the study period. The UK was second, with 20,966 registrations. The top-selling plug-in model is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which sold 19,855 units, followed by the Nissan LEAF (15,134) and Renault Zoe (10,919)
In 2016, PwC forecasts a reduction in plug-in hybrid sales in Europe, as many current government subsidies are being eliminated. In the UK, the ₤5,000 grant created in 2011 will soon reach its limit of 50,000 participants. In the Netherlands, the government will end a tax break for alternative-fuel company cars that will increase the tax rate on these vehicles to 25% from its current 7%.
“It’s no secret that the internal combustion engine is expected to be the predominant powertrain in the near term, but increased acceptance of alternative fuel technology, particularly pure electrification, should not be ignored,” said Rick Hanna, Global Automotive Leader, PwC. “The fact that some European consumers are migrating from hybrids to pure electric indicates a growing comfort level with the state of the technology; a dynamic that will serve OEMs and suppliers well as the market matures in the coming years.”