Europe closing in on 1 million EVs

Sales statistics from Europe in 2017 show electric vehicle sales grew 39% in 2017 and the continent is closing in on a total of 1 million electric vehicles on its roads. The stats, from EV-Volumes, show 930,000 on the road as of December 2017. That includes both Plug-in Hybrids Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and pure Battery cars (BEVs) combined – and predictions for 2018 are for 430,000 to be sold this year, or about 35,000 per month. It might be in March, it might be in April…but Europe is going to hit the million EV mark soon.

Some quick highlights from the EV-Volumes 2017 Year End report:

Germany more than doubled sales and is now the 2nd biggest market after Norway.

How big is the Norwegian market? In December’s sales of passenger cars, AS MANY EVS WERE SOLD AS FOSSIL FUEL CARS and almost a third –32%  – of all vehicles on Norway’s highways and byways are plug-ins. You might want to bring that up if anyone ever asks you how electric vehicles perform in the cold. (Or check out this video of Daimler testing their electric truck in -30C conditions above the Arctic Circle.)

UK sales were up 25% over 2016, France’s sales increased 25%, Sweden was up 50%. The only country that had sales below 2016 was The Netherlands, which was thrown a bit off kilter because the country’s incentive program switched to a 100% BEV focus.

Charging stations also growing

Of course one of the big challenges with the beginnings of plug-in cars is where to plug them in when not at home. While there is still a bit of a lag in keeping up with the vehicle sales, Europe now has about 80,000 outlets, which is 1/3 more than last year. With that kind of continued growth there should be in excess of 100,000 chargers by the end of 2018.

EV Charging station with 100 times the speed of home charges

The two major reservations potential buyers have about EVs are range and charging speed. The range of electric cars increases every day, and now  charging speed is making big advances. Audi, BMW and Renault announced in January a joint project putting ultra fast 100km-in-5-minute chargers on major highways. Then on March 1st Dutch charging company Fastned unveiled a new generation of fast charging stations that can charge EVs up to 100 times faster than at home. 


The big picture is the adoption curve

There is a fancy graph based on something called the Rogers Diffusion of Innovation Theory which outlines how new technologies are integrated into the world. It starts with the Innovators, then come the Early Adopters, then the Early Majority, which takes you to half the population, and once you’re there and have them on board, your’ve pretty well reached the tipping point where the new technology begins to grow and the Late Majority hops on the bandwagon.

Europe EV outlook 2018

We’ve plotted some of the countries on the Rogers curve here. Norway is now nearing that tipping point, and Iceland is getting into the Early Majority stage. Nobody is saying that EV cars in Iceland are going to make the difference in meeting the Paris Accord goals, but it is an indicator. Sweden is in the early stages of Early Adopters. And by the end of 2018 Switzerland, Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands should be joining it. Right behind are the major population countries: Germany, France and the UK.

This is the way change takes place. No one can say for sure how quickly the tipping point will be reached, but it seems inevitable that it is coming.

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