Working Paper

Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle uptake in European cities

Tracking progress
Cities Europe

This paper analyses the electric vehicle (EV) uptake and public charging infrastructure at the local level in 2021, focusing on 48 metropolitan regions with the largest EV registrations volumes and shares in Europe.

Electric vehicle sales in Europe increased 66% in 2021 from 2020, reaching 2.3 million. Forty out of 48 metropolitan regions achieved greater EV shares than the European average of 19%. Seven metropolitan regions with more than twice the European average EV share are in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Southern and Central European regions had lower EV shares than the European average. Electric vehicle shares doubled in Italian, Polish, and Spanish cities from 2020 to 2021, but these countries’ EV shares remained well below the EU average. Amsterdam (31%), London (22%), Oslo (89%), and Paris (20%) reached higher levels of EV penetration than their national average in 2021.

Public chargers in Europe rose to almost 400,000 in 2021, measuring 53% growth from 2020. However, significant disparities remain among the 48 metropolitan regions studied. Norway and the Netherlands have higher public charger densities correlated with their EV shares. Amsterdam and Utrecht also have a large share of normal AC public chargers (98%), with the lowest ratio of EVs per public charger.

National and local governments in Europe have adopted policies intended to spur the deployment of EVs and charging infrastructure. A growing number of governments have set 100% zero-emission vehicle sales targets. Purchase subsidies at the national and local levels reduce the cost of buying EVs among early adopters. Rolling out public charging infrastructure can increase convenience and remedy range anxiety, especially before the EV market matures. As of June 2022, ten European cities plan to implement zero-emission zones by 2030, restricting access to polluting vehicles to designated zones in metropolitan regions. Paris plans to extend its city-wide low-emission zone to a zero-emission zone by 2030, affecting all vehicle types. Although most cities are in the initial stages of planning, the growth in EV shares in these cities indicate that these policies could potentially accelerate transportation electrification.