While diesel car sales fell 3.7 percent, demand for electrically chargeable vehicles grew 81.3 percent.
Back in October 2019, we told you that ACEA – European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association – was concerned that automakers would not meet CO2 targets. The association worried about the decline in diesel sales because they were being replaced by gas-powered cars. If the Q4 2019 sales numbers present a trend, ACEA should not be concerned anymore. While diesel car purchases got 3.7 percent lower, they have increased by 81.3 percent for electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs).
ACEA has that vehicle category to include electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars. Although the growth percentage is encouraging, we have to see what it is being compared to. We don’t mention Q4 in 2018, which is evident, but rather the number it reflects.
The last quarter of 2018 saw 86,474 ECVs reach new customers. That is not a massive amount of vehicles: Poland alone sold a little less gas-powered cars than that (85,743) in Q4 2018. The total number for them in Europe was 1,818,174, which made the ECV market represent just 4.8 percent of that of gas-powered vehicles in 2018.
With that in mind, the Q4 2019 number for ECVs being 156,805 units may seem of little importance. It is not. That represents 7.7 percent of the number of gas-powered vehicles sold in Europe in Q4 2019, or 2,034,463 cars.
ECVs are getting a bigger slice of the sales cake, and 2020 promises to be even better. Not only because more people are realizing that ECVs make a lot of sense for people that can charge them at home, like the Portuguese. Automakers are also offering more options, such as Volvo and Renault.
Will diesel vehicles be missed in sales when it comes to meeting CO2 reduction targets? Only if ECVs halt their growing sales curve and its appetite for more market share. We don’t believe that will be the case.