Q3 Saw Europe’s EV Share Break New Ground Above 20% & Overtake Diesel For First Time

Europe’s auto market saw plugin electric vehicles climb above 20% share for the first time in Q3 2021, up almost 2x year-on-year.  Plugin share also overtook diesel’s falling share (15.4%) for the first time – diesel will now quickly fade to nothing. The overall auto market was down 21.3% year-on-year, with Q3 volume at 2,681,735 units.

Q3’s combined plugin result of 20.5% comprised full battery electrics (BEVs) at 11.53% and plugin hybrids (PHEVs) at 8.94%. BEVs’ share has grown just over 2x year-one-year, whilst PHEVs’ has grown 1.78x.

Old-school (non-electric-assist) diesel is now down to just 15.4% share, a major drop off from 25.4% in Q3 last year. BEVs alone are now quickly closing in on diesels, and there’s an odds-on chance they will overtake diesels in Q4 2021. For a reminder of Diesel’s recent history in Europe, check out last quarter’s report.

Petrol is also below 40% for the first time (39.5%). It therefore looks likely that this will be the final quarter when combined old-school combustion powertrains are above 50% of the market, as they now sum to 54.9% and have recently been dropping by around 5% per quarter.


Mild and full hybrids (HEVs) have been growing recently (blue section in above graph), though not quite as strongly as BEVs. It’s worth remembering that these plugless hybrids are essentially a transition technology that – back in the late 1990s when big auto was unwilling to make BEVs in volume – gave a then-useful efficiency boost to combustion powertrains.

But plugless hybrids still necessarily get 100% of their energy from burning fossil fuels (and the unavoidable climate emissions and toxic pollution associated with it).

At this stage, HEV technologies, especially the simple and cheap 48-volt mild hybrid versions, are close to “drop in” technology for existing vehicle models (and are steadily being implemented by most manufacturers). They are the quick and dirty (and temporary) way for laggard manufacturers to scrape through ever-tightening emissions standards.

In the short term, these plugless hybrids will grow to replace the remaining non-hybridized combustion sales, but within a few years “all of the above” will quickly disappear as plugins (and ultimately BEVs alone) take over everything.

Here’s a reminder of the latest list of the top selling plugins in the European region (keep an eye out for Jose’s reports for more model data):


As I mentioned last quarter, the Q3 and Q4 periods of each year have historically seen a notable uptick in plugin share in Europe, and that’s now evident for 2021 also.

Looking backwards to peer forwards, last year’s Q3 to Q4 plugin jump was from 10.7% share to 17.9% share. It might therefore seem possible that this year could jump from 20.5% to somewhere comfortably above 30%.

The only caveat I will mention is that last year saw Volkswagen self-register a large number of the then-launching ID.3 in late December to juice their annual fleet emissions performance. Since VW Group’s BEV volumes are now more stabilized (and together dominating) in Europe, we can’t expect to see the same level of late-play boosting from them this year.

Nevertheless, there’s always some pressure on all brands to meet annual targets, and new BEV models tend to emerge in September and October, so there will be a strong Q4 uptick. I estimate that we will see at least 25% plugin share in Q4 and perhaps as high as 28%.

How do you think Europe’s plugin market will perform in Q4 and forwards? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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