Last year, Germans discovered their love for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, not least because of bonuses of up to 9,000 euros. The boom has now replaced the second largest market for electric vehicles, as the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) announced on Tuesday. According to the global survey study, the German car companies were also able to improve their position significantly.
The largest market for electric cars and plug-in hybrids remains China with 1.25 million new registrations in 2020. That is more than a third of the world’s 3.18 million. However, the proportion is falling. While the Chinese market only grew by 3 percent, it rose by 38 percent worldwide. The main driver was, led by Germany, which reported an increase of 264 percent to just under 395,000 vehicles – the strongest growth worldwide according to ZSW. If you take Europe together, it is even ahead of China after growth of 134 percent to 1.37 million vehicles.
At the country level, the USA followed behind China and Germany as the third largest market with 322,000 newly registered electric cars and plug-in hybrids last year – followed by France with 195,000, the United Kingdom with 175,000 and Norway with 108,000. Places seven to ten go to Sweden with 94,000, the Netherlands with 88,000, Italy (60,000) and Canada (53,000).
“The e-vehicle market is developing very promisingly in many countries, especially in the European Union,” says Frithjof Staiß, executive board member of ZSW. However, he attributes this to higher subsidy rates and other measures such as the lower VAT in Germany. These funding impulses would have to be converted into market-driven growth.
At the end of the year there were 10.9 million electric cars and plug-in hybrids on the streets worldwide. The ZSW counts almost half of the stock with 5 million in China, in the USA it is 1.77 million. Germany has around 569,000 and is still a long way from its target of 7 to 10 million in 2030. “To do this, an average of around one million new electric vehicles have to be registered in Germany every year,” says Staiß. And he assumes that even more electric vehicles would be necessary for the new EU climate protection goals. “The success of last year is just the beginning.”
The German auto industry did well in 2020, as shown by data from the 19 largest markets for electric cars and plug-in hybrids. At the manufacturer level it is further ahead with almost 500,000 new registrations, but the group is catching up with 422,000 pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids and jumps from sixth to second place. The group defended fourth place with 193,000 and improved to sixth place with 163,000. The Chinese carmakers and take third and fifth place.
“The successful chase by the German manufacturers with the newly registered electric cars shows that they are on the right track,” says ZSW board member Markus Hölzle. “Nevertheless, the domestic automotive industry needs to make even greater efforts in order to be able to keep up with the world’s best in the long term.”
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Hybrids that cannot be charged from the power grid, as well as fuel cell cars, were not included in the evaluation. The latter still play a minor role: According to the ZSW, 9,000 have been registered worldwide, the number rose to 28,000.
You can already see in Norway what it means when more than every second car will be purely electric in the future.