Battery cars, hybrids, petrol and diesel cars – the new car market in the EU in the first quarter

In the first quarter of 2021, hybrid vehicles accounted for 18.4% of total passenger car sales in the EU, almost doubling its market share during the year.

Demand for electric cars also increased during these three months: battery-powered electric vehicles accounted for 5.7% of all new cars, while rechargeable hybrids accounted for 8.2% of all cars registered in the EU. Sales of conventional fossil fuel cars in the EU continued to decline, although petrol and diesel still accounted for 65.4% of the car market.

Petrol and diesel cars

Between January and March 2021, diesel volumes fell by 20.1% year-on-year to 593,559 cars sold across the European Union. Diesel market share is now 23.2%, compared to 29.9% in the first quarter of 2020. In most EU markets, the decline in this segment is in double digits, including three of the four main markets: Germany (-29.4%), Spain (-28.3%) and France (-11.1%).

Demand for gasoline-powered cars also continued to decline, with sales declining by 16.9% from 1.3 million units sold in the first quarter of 2020 to 1.1 million this year. As a result, the share of petrol cars in the EU car market fell from 52.3% in the first quarter of 2020 to 42.2% over the same period in 2021. With the exception of France (+ 8.3%), petrol car registrations fell in all major EU markets over a three-month period: Germany (-30.0%), Spain (-25.7%) and Italy (-4.8%).

Alternatively powered vehicles (APV)

In the first quarter, the registration of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the EU increased by 59.1% to 146,185 cars, and demand continues to grow, driven by government programs for zero-emission vehicles. This growth was driven by strong performance in key EU markets, notably Germany (+ 149.0%) and Italy (+ 145.6%). A 12.6 percent drop in demand for electric cars was recorded only in Spain.

Registration of rechargeable hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) increased by 175.0% to a total of 208,389 units. One of the drivers of this growth was Italy, where 16,103 plug-in cars were registered in the first quarter, an increase of 445.7% year-on-year. The EU’s three other largest markets in the PHEV segment have also doubled or even tripled this year: Germany (+ 195.4%), France (+ 231.4%) and Spain (+ 116.1%).

Hybrid cars (HEVs) remain the largest category of alternative-engined passenger cars in the EU, with 469,784 units registered between January and March 2021 (an increase of 101.6% over the same period last year). Hybrid registrations increased in almost all regions, including Italy (+ 246.8%), France (+ 135.0%), Germany (+ 60.5%) and Spain (+ 39.4%).

In the first quarter, demand for natural gas vehicles in the EU fell by 10.1% to 14,300 units, despite a 24.5% increase in registrations in Italy (the largest market for these vehicles in the EU). Sales of LPG cars, on the other hand, almost doubled (+ 92.7%) to 46,037 units, driven by significant growth in France (+ 1,748.6%; now the EU’s second largest LPG car market) and Italy (+23, 9%), which accounted for more than half of all LPG sales.

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