Electric car sales fall in Europe while hybrids rise

PARIS, France — Sales of new electric cars crucial in the fight against climate change fell in Europe in May, car manufacturers announced Thursday, while the number of hybrid vehicles rose.

While the European Union plans to ban the sale of combustion-powered cars by 2035, electric car sales have been sluggish since the end of 2023, mainly due to a lack of affordable models.

Battery electric vehicles (EVs) declined from 13.8 percent of the market in May 2023 to 12.5 percent, according to monthly statistics published by the Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

New registrations of rechargeable plug-in hybrids also declined by 14.7 percent in May, now accounting for just 6.5 percent.

READ: Bumpy ride for electric cars in Europe

On the other hand, the market share of hybrid electrics grew from a quarter to nearly 30 percent, while the combined share of fossil fuel-guzzling petrol and diesel cars fell to just under half.

In the main European markets, sales of battery electric cars rose only in France and Belgium.

They continued to fall in automobile powerhouse Germany, where purchase incentives were abolished at the end of 2023.

Sluggish electric vehicle sales are the result of carmakers prioritizing larger, premium electric vehicles with higher profit margins at the expense of affordable mass-market models, according to the think tank Transport & Environment (T&E).

“As a result of this short-term profit maximization strategy… carmakers’ profits have soared to record highs at the expense of greater proliferation of e-mobility,” a T&E statement said.

To comply with tighter EU emissions standards kicking in in 2025, T&E calculates manufacturers will have to significantly increase the share of electric cars sold to a yearly average of 21 percent.