The European Union appears to be undergoing a transition from the testing of and experimentation with electric vehicles to full-scale EV commercialization, according to a new report from the EU’s Joint Research Center (JRC). This report covers battery-electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), range extended electric vehicles (REV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).
The number of sold electric vehicles of all types rose from 760 in 2010 to more than 70,000 in 2014, with the trend continuing in the first half of 2015, according to the report. The choice of models went from 3 to nearly 30 in the same period. The share of electric vehicles produced in the EU has also expanded, increasing from 30% (of EV registered in the EU) in 2011 to 65% in 2014.
According to the team’s analysis, a total of 153,633 electric cars were registered in the EU from 2010 to 2014. Out of this 151,698 were mass-produced or mass-imported cars and 1,935 were small-series, small number imports and pre-production series cars. This breaks down to:
- 86,230 BEV
- 67,300 PHEV and REV
- 103 FCEV
The PHEV/REV group breaks down to:
- 50,869 gasoline PHEV
- 12,613 diesel PHEV
- 3,818 REV (specifically, the BMW i3)
The report also emphasizes that market deployment is still dependent on support policies and vulnerable to changes in such support. According to the recommendations, support measures should be based on technology neutral criteria, such as CO2 and other pollutant emissions, or energy efficiency.
These support measures could be gradually reduced when further cost reduction for electric vehicles or other fuel saving technologies kick in and they become a regular choice option for the mainstream market.
The Netherlands and France have the highest number of electric vehicle registrations in the period 2010-2014, while the Netherlands and Estonia have the largest shares of registered EVs on the passenger car market – between 1% and 2%. This is due to strong financial incentives, which have led to registration peaks. Member States with low or no incentives display low numbers of registrations and EV shares on the market.
While plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are mostly present in the larger car size segment, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are usually smaller size cars. Also, most of the current plug-in hybrid electric vehicle models offered derive from conventional (internal combustion engine propelled) car models. The number of battery electric vehicles models, derived from conventional car models, is increasing. This is an indication for a beginning of their mass commercialisation in the EU, the report said. The number of models offered will continue to grow in the future.
Higher purchase costs for electric vehicles, mainly because of the significant cost of the traction battery, seem to remain an important barrier for a larger uptake. Nevertheless, recent studies indicate that battery costs may decline faster than originally anticipated in literature. This could help to further decrease the cost gap between electric and conventional cars and hence substantiate the further market increase.
As an overall conclusion we can state that indeed the EU seems to currently witness a transition from testing and experimenting with EV towards full scale EV commercialization. Nevertheless, the beginning market deployment is still dependent on support policies and vulnerable to changes in such support. For the coming years it will be important to accompany EV market deployment with carefully designed policy measures that provide certainty and are consistent and coherent across the EU. These can then be gradually reduced when further cost reduction for EV kicks in and EV become a regular choice option for the mainstream market. Support measures should be based on technology neutral criteria, such as CO2 and other pollutant emissions, or energy efficiency.—Thiel et al.
Christian Thiel, Jette Krause, Panagiota Dilara (2015) “Electric vehicles in the EU from 2010 to 2014 - is full scale commercialisation near?”