In the first quarter of 2020, the electrically-chargeable vehicle segment significantly increased its market share in the EU rising to 6.8% (from 2.5% in Q1 2019) against the backdrop of the overall decline in passenger car registrations due to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA). By contrast, demand for diesel and petrol vehicles saw a significant decline, although petrol cars still account for more than half of the EU market.

Petrol and diesel cars

During the first quarter of 2020, the number of diesel cars registered across the European Union plummeted by 32.6% to 738,392. Diesel now holds a market share of 29.9% (down from 33.2% for the first quarter of 2019). All the markets in the region declines, notably the four largest ones: Italy (-49.8%), France (-36.6%), Spain (-33.8%) and Germany (-23.0%).

With the vast majority of European dealerships closed in March, demand for petrol cars also plummeted. Petrol sales contracted by 32.2%, from almost 2 million units last year to 1.3 million in Q1 2020.

Alternatively-powered vehicles (APV)

From January to March 2020, electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECV) benefited from the decline in diesel and petrol demand. Sales of ‘ECVs’ more than doubled (+100.7%) in the first three months of the year, totalling 167,132 cars registered across the EU. Both the battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) segments provided a strong boost to this growth (+68.4 and +161.7% respectively).

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) remained the best-sellers of the alternatively-powered vehicle segment, representing 9.4% of the total EU car market. 232,525 units were registered during the first quarter of the year (+45.1% compared to 2019).

Germany and France stood out with demand for alternatively powered vehicles increasing by 74.9% and 71.7% respectively, boosted by the outstanding performance of the plug-in hybrid segment.

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