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Reality Check: European Electric Car Sales Stall, As Long-Range Predictions Snowball

Neil Winton, Forbes

While excitable experts scramble to raise their predictions that the electric car shakeup is nigh, the truth on the ground suggests the revolution is struggling for oxygen.

According to British newsletter Automotive Industry Data (AID), Western Europe’s sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV) stagnated in 2016.  Sales grew 4.6% to 94,056 in an overall market that expanded by 5.8%. Market share for BEVs remained unchanged at 0.68%.

This contrasts with some recent predictions saying BEVs will soon be accelerating into our lives. Late last year Morgan Stanley raised its estimate for global BEV sales to between 10 and 15% of the global market by 2025. That was more than 3 times higher than the average of previous expectations. Volkswagen expects this to hit 25%.

Barclays Equity Research joined in too.

“Global penetration of Battery Electric Vehicles is set to be over 25% by 2030 with penetration in Europe even higher at 40%. We estimate that the passenger vehicle fleet will grow 45% by 2030 with efficiency improving by 3% per year on average,” Barclays said in a report.

That might well be the case then, but now BEVs are barely on the horizon, with demand in Europe a great deal lower than anticipated, according to AID.

“European consumers’ appetite for today’s still high-priced electric cars, despite tempting financial incentives and notable infrastructure improvements, is not yet strong enough to finally kick-start West Europe’s evidently stalled electric car market,” AID said in a report.

Western Europe includes all the big markets like Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

“(the data) drives home the unpalatable message that of late Europe’s BEV market appears to have plateaued,” AID said.

Europe’s biggest car market, Germany, still has a government target of 1 million electric cars on its roads by 2020, and that is clearly doomed to fail. Last year German BEV sales totalled 12,755, down 6.2% on the previous year, AID data showed…


“BEV sales (in Western Europe) trend seen during last year’s second half suggests that electric car demand has come to a screeching halt, offering few prospects of a quick turnaround,” AID said.

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