Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Sales figures for hybrid electric car models in the EU nearly doubled in 2021, catching up with diesel cars and taking the second place in the market share for new vehicles in Europe last year, industry data reveals.
According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), petrol-fueled, internal combustion engines (ICEs) remained dominant in 2021, with a 40% market share. However, the share of hybrid-electric vehicles jumped from 11.9% in 2020 to 19.6% in 2021, putting them neck-and-neck with diesel engine vehicles, which also had a 19.6% market share.
Other types of alternately-powered vehicles also experienced a sales surge in Europe last year, with sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) growing 24.9% in the final quarter, accounting for a 9.1% market share in 2021 overall. Plug-in hybrids came in fifth, with an 8.9% market share.
During 2021 as a whole, plug-in hybrid sales grew 70.7% compared to 2020, with 867,092 units sold in the course of the last year. Battery electric vehicle sales grew 63.1%, with 878,432 units sold during 2021.
The ACEA figures come as the European Commission is aiming to ban the sale of all new fossil fuel cars starting with 2035, and as most carmakers with EU-based plants are announcing plans to switch to all-electric production within a similar timeframe.
The environmental group Transport & Environment welcomed the rising share of electric and hybrid vehicles in Europe, but cautioned that car manufacturers could become complacent should the EU fail to impose even more ambitious CO2 limits.
Current EU regulations limit carmakers to emitting 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That figure is calculated on a fleet-wide average, creating the market space for hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid cars, which manufacturers use to bring down their CO2 average.
Hybrid electric, or self-charging cars are powered by a conventional ICE, and an electric motor which charges while driving. Plug-in hybrids are powered by an electric motor, charged at power stations, but have a backup ICE which can take over once the battery drains.