In the last quarter of 2019, EU demand for diesel cars further decreased, dropping to 29.5% of new-car registrations. Petrol cars accounted for 57.3% of the EU market, while electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECV) made up 4.4% of total new car sales across the region from October to December last year, according to the latest figures by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Overall in 2019, almost 60% of all new cars registered in the EU ran on petrol (58.9%, compared to 56.6% in 2018), while diesel accounted for 30.5% of registrations (35.9% in 2018). Last year, 3.1% of new passenger cars in the EU were electrically-chargeable vehicles (one percentage point more than in 2018).

Petrol and diesel cars

From October to December 2019, the number of diesel cars registered across the European Union fell by 3.7% to 1 million units. Despite this overall decline, some markets are starting to show signs of recovery. Diesel demand increased again in two of the biggest EU car markets: France (+7.3%) and Germany (+4.3%). Double-digit gains were also seen in Belgium (+17.7%), Slovenia (+18.2%), Hungary (+18.4%), Sweden (+30.5%) and Romania (+31.1%).

At the same time, petrol cars continued their upward trend, increasing by 11.9% (or 216,289 units) compared to the fourth quarter of 2018. Petrol sales grew in all 28 EU countries, with Italy recording the highest percentage increase (+20.9%) of the five major markets. The Central European countries also provided an important boost (up 23.0% from October to December 2019).

Alternatively-powered vehicles (APV)

During the fourth quarter of 2019, demand for alternatively-powered cars grew significantly (+66.2%) across the EU. Electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECV) were among the main drivers of this growth (+81.3%; 156,805 units in total), with both the battery-electric segment (BEV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) posting strong gains (+77.9% and +86.4%, respectively). Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) still account for the vast majority of alternatively-powered vehicles sold in the EU. Indeed, 252,371 units were registered during the fourth quarter (+69.2% compared to 2018).

Other alternatively-powered vehicles – which include those running on ethanol (E85), liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas (NGV) – also ended the year on a positive note. Registrations increased by 28.0% to 58,768 units in the last quarter of 2019. Italy remains the largest market for these vehicles in the EU, with 41,905 units registered. Looking at the five major markets, all of them posted strong growth in total APV registrations from October to December 2019. Germany stood out as demand more than doubled (+101.9%) during the fourth quarter, driven by sales of both plug-in hybrids and hybrid electric vehicles.