Markets in motion: An animated overview of passenger car registrations in Europe

European vehicle markets are in motion. With our monthly Market Monitor, we aim to provide up-to-date information on new car registrations, the sales share of electric vehicles, and average new car CO2 emission levels. In addition to the Market Monitor, we created the following three animated charts to help visualize the rapid changes we are witnessing in the auto sector.

First, let us take a look at new car registrations by month since January 2019 in the ten largest European markets. Germany is typically the largest market with about 250k-300k new car registrations per month. Twice a year, however, the UK jumps to the top of the list. The underlying reason is that the vehicle age identifier in UK vehicle registration plates changes twice a year, in March and in September. To ensure they have a genuinely brand-new car, many new car buyers in the UK prefer to wait for either March or September, which explains the sudden spike in vehicle registrations during those two months.

The impact of COVID-19 related confinement measures on new car sales can be clearly seen in March and April of 2020. New car registrations in Germany fell to a low of about 120k, before recovering a bit in May to about 170k. Italy was hit especially hard in March, falling to a level of only 4k new car registrations, a mere 2% of the registrations in April 2019. The Italian market rebounded to 100k registrations in May 2020, which is still less than half the sales that occurred in May 2019.

The next figure, focusing on the share of electric vehicles, shows Norway is at the top of the list of European markets. In March 2020, 75% of new passenger cars registered in Norway were either battery or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. December 2019, however, was an exceptional month, with the share of electric vehicles being higher in the Netherlands (55%) than in Norway (53%). This was due to the fact that from January 2020 onwards, the taxable income for the private use of battery electric company cars in the Netherlands doubled. In anticipation of this tax rate change, many customers seem to have moved forward their vehicle purchases to December 2019.

Most European markets have witnessed a strong increase in the electric vehicle share over the past months. The average share increased from 3% in 2019 to 8% in January–May 2020. Sweden is a particularly good example, with the country’s share increasing from around 11% in most months of 2019 to consistently higher than 20% in 2020.

The sudden increase in the electric vehicle share in the UK in April 2020 is also noteworthy. Vehicle registrations plummeted from 161k in April 2019 to 4k in April 2020, but electric vehicle registrations were less affected, decreasing by roughly half during the same period. As a result, electric vehicle accounted for 34% of all new car registrations in April 2020.

Our last graphic looks at electric vehicle shares by manufacturer pools. As shown, the monthly electric vehicle shares of some manufacturers are remarkably erratic. In the case of FCA-Tesla, the share of electric vehicles often goes from below 5% in one month to 15% or higher the next. The maximum-to-date was reached in March 2020, when 38% of all new car registrations by FCA-Tesla were electric. This was due to the fact that FCA combustion engine sales were shrinking while Tesla battery electric vehicles witnessed a tenfold increase in deliveries in markets such as the UK.

BMW, Nissan, and Volvo consistently ranked high among manufacturers in terms of electric vehicle shares. On the other end of the spectrum, Toyota-Mazda hardly sold any electric vehicles to date and instead focuses almost entirely on hybrid electric vehicles.

Volkswagen Group, the largest manufacturer pool, steadily increased its electric vehicle share from 1% in January 2019 to 7% in May 2020. With the first deliveries of the company’s new ID.3 electric vehicle scheduled for the second half of 2020, it is likely that Volkswagen Group will outperform some of its competitors in terms of electric vehicle shares. So, there is no doubt that European vehicle markets will remain in motion in the coming months, and we will continue monitoring them closely.

Electrification Zero-emission vehicles