On street electric vehicle charging

EVs double market share; VW to invest €10bn in production

Image credit: Viorel Dudau/Dreamstime

Electric vehicles (EVs) almost doubled their market share in the EU during the first quarter of 2022. Their rising popularity is reflected in Volkswagen's (VW) decision to invest €10bn in building a new EV gigafactory in Spain.

Battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs) almost doubled their market share in the European Union during the first quarter of 2022, as the rollout of models across the continent gathers pace.

BEVs accounted for 10 per cent of total passenger car sales in the EU, according to data from the region's carmaker association (ACEA), surpassing plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which accounted for an 8.9 per cent share.

In total, 224,145 BEVs were sold across the EU in the period January-March 2022 – a significant increase over the 146,125 vehicles sold in the same period in 2021.

Hybrid electric vehicles accounted for more than a quarter of the market, up from around a fifth in the same period last year. Cars powered by petrol and diesel lost market share, but still accounted for 52.8 per cent of the EU market during the period.

Given the surge in BEV sales, Volkswagen's announcement today (Thursday 5 May) that it will invest €10bn to make electric vehicles in Spain appears timely.

The German automaker said it plans to make the huge investment to make electric vehicles and batteries in Spain, according to chief executive Herbert Diess.

"We will electrify the second-largest car producer in Europe with a new gigafactory of batteries and the production of electric cars in two plants and the creation of a full ecosystem of suppliers from lithium extraction to the assembly of batteries," Diess told an event in Sagunto near Valencia.

The company will also set up a solar park with Spain's power utility Iberdrola to partly power its existing factory in Sagunto.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the annual car sales forecast has been lowered by 9 per cent due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage.

According to figures provided by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), around 1.72 million new cars will be registered in 2022.

The reduction comes as the number of new cars registered in April fell by 16 per cent year-on-year. Around 119,167 new cars were registered last month, down from 141,583 in April 2021.

This reduction comes despite the lockdown restrictions in place in April 2021, which meant that car showrooms were closed for the first 11 days of April last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The worldwide semiconductor shortage continues to drag down the market, with global geopolitical issues threatening to undermine both supply and demand in the coming months.

“Manufacturers are doing everything they can to deliver the latest low- and zero-emission vehicles and those considering purchase should look to place their orders now to benefit from incentives, low interest rates and reduced running costs.

“Accelerating the transformation of the new car market and the carbon savings demanded of road transport in such difficult times requires not just the resolution of supply issues, however, but a broader package of measures that encourages customer demand and addresses obstacles, the biggest of which remains charging anxiety.”

However, once again, EV sales are bucking the downward trend, posting a 41 per cent year-on-year increase. The SMMT anticipates that plug-in cars such as pure electrics, as well as plug-in hybrids, will account for more than a quarter of the new car market by the end of 2022.

Ben Nelmes, co-founder and head of policy at green motoring consultancy New AutoMotive, said the “steady growth” in electric cars is welcome, but that the UK government needs to “go faster” to encourage more people to make the switch from petrol and diesel cars.

The government is reportedly planning to adopt a zero-emission vehicle mandate, which will require manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of such cars and vans from 2024.

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