Trump's America overtakes ‘green’ Europe in the electric car race

(Transport and Environment, 6 Mar 2019) The US has become the second largest electric passenger car market in the world [1], selling 361,000 EVs in 2018 (a 2.1% market share) and relegating Europe to the third place with 302,000 cars (or a 2.0% market share), new analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E) shows. China continues to top the ranking with over one million EVs sold last year and an EV market share of 4%.

The American market sped up in the second half of the year with a whopping 120% surge in sales in the last quarter of 2018 (year-on-year) while Europe saw a more modest 33% increase over the same period. By way of comparison, China sold more than 150,000 EVs in December only, half of the annual sales in the EU.

EU carmakers have been holding back EV sales to ‘save’ zero-emission cars right until the end to comply with stricter CO2 limits in 2020 and 2021.  

The suppression of EV sales is apparent in carmakers’ limited model choice and availability. Market monitoring shows that seven all-electric model launches were recently delayed in Europe. This has led to waiting times of between six and 12 months for most plug-in cars. Carmakers also launched fewer new battery electric and fuel cell (ZEV) models in 2018 than 2017. Just seven were added last year, whereas 20 new models will be added in 2019, 33 in 2020 and 45 in 2021.

Lucien Mathieu, E-mobility analyst with T&E, said: "EU carmakers have seen electric cars as a necessary evil to comply with regulation and evidence shows they've been suppressing supply and sales in 2018, in an attempt to protect their diesel business. Meanwhile China is racing ahead and even Trump’s America has now overtaken Europe thanks to the Tesla-fueled EV sales boom."

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Transport and Environment, 6 Mar 2019: Trump's America overtakes ‘green’ Europe in the electric car race