The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted economies across Europe and beyond, causing societies to be quarantined for months and factories to close. In Europe, 2020 was billed as the year of the electric car, and early 2020 saw record plug-in sales. But has the COVID-19 crisis put an end to the electric car momentum that had been building in response to EU emissions regulations?
The EU 2020/21 car CO2 target of 95 gCO 2 / km was established more than a decade ago and was reconfirmed in 2014. However, this did not prevent EU automakers from postponing investments to comply until the last minute because they did little to prepare before 2019. T&E calculated in 2018 that they invested in China, where the aggressive electric car policy allowed the Chinese to secure seven times more investments than the EU (€21.7 billion vs €3.2 billion) between 2017 and 2018.
However, with the EU 2020 emissions regulation looming, EU carmakers began investing in 2019, along with other private companies and EU Member States, to build EVs and produce batteries in Europe. T&E examined these investments from key OEMs and joint consortia: in 2019, Europe received 19 times more investments than in 2017/2018, and 3.5 times more than China, thanks to EU car CO 2 regulations. With €60 billion invested in EV production in Europe, 2020 and 2021 are expected to be watershed years.
The investments were primarily aimed at eight countries, with Germany receiving the largest share, with €40 billion coming primarily from the Volkswagen Group, but also from Tesla’s investment near Berlin. The Czech Republic is second only to Germany, with €6.6 billion thanks to a massive investment by the Volkswagen Group.