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Twelve years away from the European Union’s ban on the sale of fossil-fueled cars, electric vehicles (EVs) still represent a minor share of the whole European fleet. According to Eurostat, there were over 253 million passenger cars in the EU (in 2021), with less than two million being battery-electric powered – 0.76 percent of this fleet. Expanding the scope to non-EU countries – including Norway, Great Britain, and Switzerland – the share slightly increases to 0.96 percent. Norway stands out with the highest percentage of the continent.

Germany is the country with the largest number of cars and has the absolute highest number of EVs. However, these represent a small fraction of the fleet. Italy is the second largest country in Europe in terms of the passenger car fleet and has the second highest number of cars per capita. In 2021, there were less than 120.000 electric cars in Italy. In France – where the number of total passenger cars is similar – there were three times more EVs. Great Britain and the Netherlands also had more electric vehicles than Italy.

Rising trends

Petrol and diesel-powered cars combined are 90 percent of the whole European passenger car fleet. Although this figure includes hybrid models too, the great majority of vehicles are still powered by pure fossil combustion engines. The cleaner – but still fossil– liquefied petroleum gas is the third most used motor energy, powering less than three percent of European’s passenger cars.

Despite representing a tiny share of the European passenger car fleet, the number of circulating EVs is rising. Growth has been observed in recent years as technology has advanced (with longer driving ranges) and government subsidies have encouraged the purchase of electric vehicles.

Tesla on top of the rankings

In 2021, over 1.2 million cars were sold. Tesla and Volkswagen were the two brands selling the most cars, with the American carmaker having sold a couple of hundred more autos. Elon Musk car company’s Model 3 was by far the most sold vehicle of the year. Volkswagen’s ID.3 and ID.4 also claimed a spot in the top fifteen, as well as the e-UP!.

French automaker Renault sold a little bit less than 100.000 cars. Most of them were Zoe models – about 70.000. Hyundai and Peugeot are fourth and fifth respectively. It only placed tenth, but Fiat was the brand having the highest increase in sales in comparison to 2020 – 284 percent – carried by the electric version of the iconic 500.