More electrified cars sold in Europe than China so far this year

More electrified vehicles were sold in Europe than in China for the first seven months of this year, according to a report by an independent German car analyst.

China, which bought more than 1.2 million EVs in 2018, has consistently been the world’s largest market for EVs by a significant margin.

However, Matthias Schmidt reported that the Western European car market, which comprises the original EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, bought 500,000 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) during the first half of 2020. That’s 14,000 more than changed hands in China in the same period.

Schmidt cited “generous” government- and manufacturer-backed purchase subsidies and fiscal subsidies in major markets in response to the pandemic as the main reason for the surprising result.

The fact that China has been reducing subsidies in an attempt to make car makers more independent will also have been a large factor, as well as the particularly harsh effect of Covid-19 on its populace.

Europe bought 231,000 PHEVs during the first seven months of this year, more than double the amount sold in China (108,000), but the world’s largest new car market still leads for BEV sales, with 378,000 to Europe’s 269,000.

At this rate, Europe is set to exceed a million sales of EVs this year. The chances of reaching this milestone will be boosted by the arrival of several highly anticipated models, most notably the Volkswagen ID 3 family hatchback, which will touch down in Europe and the UK in September.

However, don’t expect Europe’s lead to last long. Last year, Tesla received final permission to start Model 3 production in its $2 million Gigafactory in Shanghai. This facility is capable of producing 500,000 vehicles per year, and if even a fifth of that number is sold, China would reclaim its place as the foremost electrified vehicle market.