Europe Sees Surge In Electric Car Sales In 2020 With Tougher Emissions Norms

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the overall vehicles sales in Europe last year, there was a surge in sales of low-emission car sales and one in every nine new cars sold in in the region was an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, showed data released by the European Environment Agency on Tuesday.

There was a 12 per cent year on year fall in the average CO2 emissions of new cars sold in Europe last year primarily due to a surge in sales of electric cars in the continent which was in contrast to the previous three years when there was a straight and constant rise in the levels of vehicular emissions of CO2.  

The drop in carbon emissions from cars in 2020 was also the largest such annual drop since the car CO2 standards were introduced by the European Union in 2010.

According to the provisional data, about 11 per cent of the total number of 11.6 million new cars registered in the EU, Iceland, Norway and Britain in 2020 were fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The share of such low emission vehicles of the total new car sales tripled in 2020 compared to a share of just 3.5 per cent in 2019.

According to analysts, car makers were forced to cut down on their fleet wide emissions because of the tougher CO2 targets for carmakers that brought into force last year and they did this by pushing sale of more low-emission cars and purchasing carbon credits from other carmakers that managed top over-achieve their targets.

The EEA did not confirm which carmakers met their targets.

In their Covid-19 economic recovery packages last year, electric vehicle subsidies were also included by countries including France and Germany.

The sale of electric and plug-in hybrid cars grew to electric and plug-in hybrid car even though the overall new car sales slid in 2020.

The data showed the emissions targets were working, said Campaign group Transport & Environment. The organization however also urged the EU to make proposals for CO2 standards that would essentially ban sale of new petrol and diesel car by 2035 when Brussels announces a new package of polices nest month to address climate change.

The specific car CO2 targets the Commission will propose has not yet been confirmed by policy makers, EU officials said.

Climate change campaigners argue that since an average car remains on the road for 10 to 15 years, therefore banning the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars in the EU after 2035 will make achieving Brussels’ target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 very difficult as older polluting cars would still be on the road after 2050.

Average emissions for new cars registered in Europe were 107.8 grams of CO2 per kilometre in 2020, which was a decrease of 14.5 grams compared to the figures from 2019.

(Adapted from


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