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By Adam Vaughan
There are now more than a million electric cars in Europe after sales soared by more than 40% in the first half of the year, new figures reveal.
Europe hit the milestone nearly a year after China, which has a much larger car market, but ahead of the US, which is expected to reach the landmark later this year driven by the appetite for Tesla’s latest model.
Between January and June around 195,000 plug-in cars were sold across the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, a 42% increase on the same period a year before.
With growth speeding up, the cumulative total is expected to hit 1.35m by the end of the year, according to industry analysts EV-Volumes.
Viktor Irle, a market analyst at the group, said: “A stock of one million electric vehicles is an important milestone on the road to electrification and meeting emission targets but it is of course not enough.”
The figures include fully electric cars and vans, plus plug-in hybrid ones, which can travel a short distance off a battery before switching to a conventional engine.
While plug-in sales are growing, they still account for only 2% of all new car and van registrations across Europe in the first half of the year. By the year’s end, the share is forecast to hit 2.35%.
Norway continued to lead the pack, with 36,500 sales and a share of 37% of new registrations. The country has long been ahead on battery-powered vehicles, thanks in large part to generous government incentives.
However, rapid growth in Germany means Europe’s biggest car market is set to overtake Norway by the end of the year for total sales.
The Netherlands and Denmark also posted good growth but the UK had only moderate growth because of what EV-Volumes called a lack of compelling models from domestic manufacturers Ford and Vauxhall.
The UK sold 30,040 plug-in cars and vans in the first half of the year. Sales of fully electric cars dipped by 6% but plug-in hybrids surged by 50%.
Pivot Power, a firm which hopes to build a UK-wide network of rapid electric car chargers, said the UK was well-positioned to catch up with its Nordic peers.
“The one millionth sale this year is a clear signal of consumer intent. Access to low-cost, well-located charging from abundant power sources is crucial for capturing this momentum,” Matt Allen, the firm’s CEO, said.