Update on electric vehicle uptake in European cities

Working Paper 2021-37, published by the International Council on Clean Transportation, provides an update on electric vehicle uptake in 2020 in 50 metropolitan regions with the greatest EV registrations volume and shares in Europe. It sheds light on key policies enabling the transition in the most successful local markets when it comes to the adoption of electric mobility.

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The first high-level conclusion of this research is that European cities experienced strong electric vehicle market growth in 2020, but the distribution of EV’s remains unequal. Approximately 745,000 new passenger BEVs and 625,000 PHEV’s were registered, meaning a 143% increase from 2019. In 13 of 16 researched countries, the EV sales shares within metropolitan regions exceeded the national average. 

Source: Update on electric vehicle uptake in European cities | ICCT

However, the uptake of EV’s remains unequal across Europe, with regions in northern Europe leading the way. Countries like Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden see twice the

European average EV share (23%). However, although new EV sales in regions in southern and eastern Europe were comparatively low, they also saw a steep rise from 2019. 

Charging infrastructure

The second conclusion is that even though charging infrastructure is increasing in all major European markets, they each are developing different patterns of public charging. For example, cities in the Netherlands have the most public charging infrastructure, but less than 5% of them are equipped with DC fast charging. 

Source: Update on electric vehicle uptake in European cities | ICCT

There are 10-20 EV’s per public charger, but those numbers are lower in the Netherlands and higher in Norway, indicating that there is no universal EV-to-charger ratio that can serve as a benchmark across different markets. To support charging growth, cities provide subsidies for key segments like multiunit dwellings and come up with strategies with stakeholders like electric utilities and charging operators.

Policies spur EV uptake

The third conclusion is that policies at the European Union, national, and local level are contributing to electric vehicle uptake. European Union CO2 emission standards for new passenger cars have largely driven the passenger car EV market in 2020. Add to this financial incentives provided by governments on the national level. Moreover, leading European cities have also played their part by implementing innovative policies to improve EV convenience, awareness, and affordability. Think of providing parking benefits, allowing access to priority lanes and offering discounts on tolls and congestion zones. EV shares in these cities are greater than their respective national and European averages.

Source: Update on electric vehicle uptake in European cities | ICCT

Cities aiming for a zero-emission future

The fourth and final conclusion is that city strategies are increasingly aiming toward 100% ZEV’s. One way of realising this goal is by regulating or restricting access to combustion engine vehicles in urban areas and suspending sales or registrations of new combustion vehicles. Another strategy for cities is to accelerate EV uptake in high-visibility segments, like public transport, taxis and private hire vehicles.

Although new electric passenger car registrations will continue to climb in the coming years, most European markets are still in the early, adoptive phases of the transition to all zero-emission vehicles. Comprehensive strategies regarding infrastructure and local policies are needed to achieve zero-emission mobility.

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Reported by ICCT

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