These European Countries Are Embracing Electric Car Adoption

OCT 30 2018 BY EVANNEX 30


Europe’s automotive market is slowly getting charged. The drivers of electrification are EU regulatory agencies, which are imposing ever-stricter limits on carbon and nitrogen oxide pollution. Meanwhile, the German auto industry is pulling in the other direction, using its immense political power to try to delay and water down emissions regulations. The various European countries are caught in the middle – some are embracing the electric future, some are resisting it, and most are muddling through with no particular plan.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: A look back at the first Tesla Model S delivered in Europe to Norway’s Frederic Hauge (Image: EV Obsession)

A recent article in Automotive News Europe examines the current state of play in the Continent’s most important auto markets.


Norway has become the world’s EV capital, thanks to generous purchase subsidies and other incentives. EVs are exempt from acquisition tax and from the country’s 25 percent value-added tax. They also enjoy privileged status on the roads, with exemptions from tolls, free ferry rides and, in some cities, free parking. Last year, pure electric cars accounted for over 20% of new registrations. Tesla’s Model X is by far the top seller – the Nissan LEAF is #2, and Model S is #3 (according to EV Sales).


The Netherlands holds a firm second place in the EV race. Plug-in vehicles accounted for some 4.1% of total auto sales so far this year. Tesla is the market leader here too – sales set a new record in September, with Model S in the lead, followed by Model X (and the Nissan LEAF in a distant third).


The UK aims to be a major force in the electric vehicle market, which it sees as a way to revitalize the country’s industry and provide high-tech jobs. Along with California (and possibly China), the UK is one of the few governments that has a comprehensive strategy for electrification, as opposed to the piecemeal measures being taken by most countries and states. The government’s Road to Zero strategy addresses commercial vehicles, public transport, charging infrastructure and much more, and includes a proposal to end the sale of fossil-powered vehicles by 2040.

Above: A look at some of the electric cars available in the UK (Image: Go Ultra Low)

The UK currently has over 16,000 public charging points, and the government has established a 400 million-pound fund to finance an expansion of the charging network. Buyers of plug-in vehicles are eligible for grants of up to 4,500 pounds.


France’s President Emmanuel Macron has set a goal of increasing EV sales fivefold by 2020. Paris plans to phase out legacy vehicles in the city by 2030 to cut air pollution. The country has a range of incentives in place, including purchase subsidies of up to 6,000 euros for electric and hybrid vehicles, and a diesel scrappage plan that offers up to 4,000 euros for trading in an older diesel vehicle. Plug-in vehicles are also eligible for tax breaks, and in some provinces, annual registration fees may be waived.

France had over 16,000 public charging stations at the end of 2017, and the government has set a target of 100,000 by 2020. On the negative side, the Autolib car-sharing service, which featured Bolloré EVs and a network of charging stations, went belly-up this year.

The most popular plug-in vehicle in France is the homegrown Renault Zoe. Tesla is less popular here than elsewhere in Europe – Model S is #14 in year-to-date sales (per EV Sales).


In Spain, the government has implemented several incentive plans in the past year. The Alternative Mobility Support Plan was launched with a 20 million-euro budget to encourage sales of  alternative-fuel vehicles – the budget was used up in less than 24 hours.

Above: Spain also hosts the Electric GT racing championships (Source: Electric GT)

In the first half of 2018, 5,906 electrified vehicles were sold in Spain, nearly double the number registered in the first half of 2017, according to the industry association ANFAC, giving plug-in vehicles a market share of 0.8 percent.

Spain has just over 5,000 charging stations, according to the latest estimate by the European Alternative Fuels Observatory. Spanish utility Iberdrola and French oil company Avia plan to invest 1.35 million euros in new charging points at 27 Avia gas stations. Iberdrola has also announced a plan to install 25,000 charging points by 2021.


Denmark has become the latest country to propose an eventual ban on the sale of ICE vehicles. In a recent speech to parliament, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said, “In just 12 years, we will prohibit the sale of new diesel and petrol cars. And in 17 years, every new car in Denmark must be an electric car or other forms of zero-emissions car.”

The new policy represents an about-face for Denmark, which saw EV sales plummet after the government began phasing out incentives in 2015. Last year, plug-in vehicle sales represented just 0.4% of the Danish market, a pittance compared to the numbers in neighboring Sweden (5.3%) and Norway (39%).


And then there is Germany, home to the world’s largest automaker (VW) and some of the world’s most iconic luxury brands. The federal government is pushing – in 2010, Chancellor Angela Merkel set a goal of having one million electrified cars by 2020 – but the auto industry has been bravely holding back the tide. At the start of this year, there were around 100,000 plug-ins on German roads, just over half of them pure EVs.

Above: German automakers have been hesitant to expand beyond its low-range electric vehicle offerings like the BMW i3 (Image: Plugin Cars)

German automakers are struggling to find a profitable way to sell EVs – several have warned that electrification will lead to financial losses for the industry, and have cited the threat of lost jobs as a justification for watering down emissions standards.

The government introduced a purchase incentive in July 2016. Roughly 600 million euros were earmarked for the program, but only about 100 million euros had been spent after the first two years. The program excluded vehicles with a starting price over 60,000 euros – details were negotiated by the government and German automakers, who are providing some of the funding. Tesla felt left out, and devised a way to reduce the base price of a Model S to 60,000 euros, by unbundling some standard features and making them options.

At first the Germans accused Tesla of gaming the system. Later, the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) clarified that Model S buyers were eligible for the incentive. In July, in an odd twist, BAFA reversed its ruling, and actually asked some Model S buyers to reimburse the government for incentives they already received. Tesla is disputing the decision, and says that it will cover the costs to its customers.

According to a study by European car industry association ACEA, there are just over 25,000 charging points in Germany – the second-highest number in the EU after the Netherlands.

Oddly, the Renault Zoe is the best-selling plug-in in Germany, closely followed by the BMW i3 and VW e-Golf. Tesla’s Model S is far back in the pack at spot #18.


Another EV laggard is Switzerland, a small auto market that’s dominated by German and French brands. As is the case in several countries, consumers’ love affair with SUVs has derailed the government’s efforts to meet previously agreed-upon emissions reduction goals. In a 2017 national referendum, the Swiss opted for strict limits on CO2emissions of new cars, but auto importers are far from reaching the agreed-upon levels, and are moving in the wrong direction.

Above: Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard’s Tesla (Image: Bilanz via @UVEK)

Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard (who drives a Model S) is an EV booster, but the federal government has soundly rejected every proposal for purchase incentives or investments in charging infrastructure. Over the past couple of years, Swiss auto importers paid around 18 million Swiss francs in fines for exceeding emissions standards, but the auto lobby recently introduced measures that could allow importers to continue to exceed the standards without incurring fines.


Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Automotive News Europe

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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30 Comments on "These European Countries Are Embracing Electric Car Adoption"

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It’s just tragic that short-term profit so often wins over sustainability.

Even worse… short term profits win over a companies long term survival! Stagecoach & buggy manufacturers products are mainly in museums these days. Horseless carriages were doomed was their sales strategy…

Another Euro point of view

Short term profits brings votes. Chinese leaders can for example afford a long term vision.

Germany auto industry is so entrenched fossil fuels and Diesels they are afraid to do a 180 turn around, steering an over century old technology and industry is like an old oil barge that takes miles to stop , let alone reverse course.

To change a mindset is not easy, but it is possible. German auto industry has realised that EVs are the future. I don’t have any doubts, that we will see a lot of EV-production during the next years.

This said, change is not so easy. There are tens of thousands combustion engine engineers, there are a lot of very costly dealerships (BMW and VW put a lot of pressure on them), car repair shops also have to change, etc. etc. etc.

Pure EV manufacturers don’t have to think about these transition processes that much.

Someone at Evannex should learn how to read statistics. The Leaf is by far the top seller in Norway and the Model X/S at 4 and 5. And in the Netherlands the Leaf is number 2.

They quoted the Sep numbers but are talking about year percentages….lol. If you wanna spin it, this is a nice way to do it.

Nope, they did not because then they would state that. They are spinning it to make it look like Tesla is doing better than they are. I’m trying to unspinn it. To many Tesla-trolls out there and Evannex is one of them.

Evannex quoting September numbers is just as disingenuous as Tesla hater Anton Wahlmann quoting October numbers. In October Model S and X were FAR behind the leaders with a meager 1-2% market share. Even Jaguar’s new i-Pace with 6% share left them in the dust!

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure. YTD with adjustments for new models like i-Pace is the only honest way to evaluate market share.

My comment got sent to moderation, not sure why. I merely noted that Tesla has huge market share in September (3rd month of quarter) vs. almost zero in October (1st month). Anyone that uses one month and ignores the other is trying to scam you.

You can see this poor behavior on both sides of the debate.

PEV share in Sweden is 7% so far 2018, but not on the list?

Iceland even more and also not on the list.

Yup, I don’t know where evannex is drawing their numbers from. Seems like – almost out of a hat. Strange b/c there’s a free blog site with all this info,

In particular, Netherlands is not a “solid #2” but one of the most unstable countries due to ever-changing regulations. Perhaps now the continent-wide regulations will stabilize matters there.
And Denmark is far behind not only most European countries but all East Asian and North American countries.

See here:

They are drawing them from the Tesla hat. As usual from Evannex.

Germany’s days of automotive dominance is quickly eroding.

I think they hava technical capacity, and enough finantial power to do the change successfull. Obviously, every change is an oportunity and a risk, but I think most of big makers will retain the position en the future.

Don’t think so.. Tesla sells well, but there are other brands as well. Just look at the Leaf numbers.. and they have sold all they can manufacture the next two years. Jaguar will of course sell a few thousand next year too.

Number of EVs sold in Norway: Leaf 45.910, Volkswagen e-Golf 28.800, Tesla Model S 18.153, BMW i3: 18.074,
KIA Soul 14.800, Tesla Model X 9.712, Renault Zoe 8.354, Volkswagen e-up 8.279, Mercedes B250E 5.250, Hyundai ionic 4.705

Let’s see next year then Audi and MB are supposed to deliver som EVs, and maybe KIA and Hyundai will sell what they can manufacture, Renaut and Peugeot is coming slowly up to speed.
I just wonder when Ford, Suzuki, Mazda and others will start to deliver EVs.

leaf has kept supply limited to the demand, not the other way around.
In fact, other than Tesla, all legacy car makers have limited demand, and it is WAY below expected.

Have to wait about 2 years for a KIA, and the same goes for many EVs. Hyundai are slow too, Renault Zoe can deliver pretty quick, but their small electric panel van has a long waiting line. . in general the demand is for cheaper EVs. The pre orders for the Tesla model 3 is higher in numbers then Audi e-tron for example BUT the value of the pre orders are lower, which mean many of the pre orders are for the cheapest model 3, which is not released yet.

Will be interesting to see over the next 3 years if/when/how different manufacturers scale their manufacturing of EVs. I think Audi will try to get some kind of local delivery record in january 2019 – given how the Audi boss in Norway formulated her answers to a reporter a few days back. She also confirmed production for e-tron had been going on for a while in Belgium, and they showed finished cars heading for Norway.

UK grants are no longer £4500, they have been dropped to £3500 now.

UE said some months ago, if the UE members don’t make the needed changes for helping the electric vehicles (charging infraestructures for example), there will be sanctions.

A typo in the article for France. Old diesel scrappage offers up to 2500 euros (not 4000 anymore)

Is South America doing anything with EV’s.

Not that much.. it has to do with how much money then spend of an average vehicle and infrastructure challenges.

And America continues to talk about killing all federal incentives for EVs.
Europe has it more together on this kind of stuff.

America is 35 different countries to pretty hard to make a general statement about all of them.

What about Iceland?

Romania is not part of your list despite the fact that is offering an ~9900EURO incentive for each new EV.

You did not mention that Romania provides a 10.000 EUR subsidies for buying EV’s

I think Slovenia also deserves a mention. A generous 7500€ incentive is available for each EV purchase, 4500€ for a plug-in hybrid. Dedicated low-interest loans are also available. EVs are exempt from vehicle registration fee. Public low-speed charging stations are mostly free, fast charging stations are cheaper than petrol. Government strategy calls for a ban on non-electrified new vehicle sales after 2030. Wider adoption of EVs is only hampered by low availability and lower purchasing power than in western Europe.