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Volkswagen hails breakthrough after tripling electric car sales

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FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 file photo, Electric car ID.3 cars stand at the factory area during a press tour at the plant of the German manufacturer Volkswagen AG.
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 file photo, Electric car ID.3 cars stand at the factory area during a press tour at the plant of the German manufacturer Volkswagen AG.   -   Copyright  Jens Meyer/AP Photo
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Electric cars are becoming more popular in Europe despite the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic as the EU phases in new requirements on vehicle emissions in 2021.

German carmaker Volkswagen announced on Tuesday that it had tripled deliveries of all-electric vehicles in 2020.

“2020 was a turning point for Volkswagen and marked a breakthrough in electric mobility,” said Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars, in a statement.

Volkswagen sold 134,000 battery electric vehicles in 2020, up from just over 45,000 in 2019. The company sold 212,000 electric cars in total, which includes hybrid cars.

“We are well on track to achieve our aim of becoming the market leader in battery electric vehicles,” Brandstätter continued. “More than any other company, we stand for attractive and affordable e-mobility.”

This comes amid an economic recession linked to the COVID-19 pandemic that caused the overall car market to shrink. But in Europe, electric vehicles are becoming more popular.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association said that in the third quarter of 2020, almost one in 10 passenger cars sold in the EU (9.9%) was an electrically-chargeable vehicle, compared to 3% during the same period last year.

Despite this, however, "diesel and petrol together still accounted for more than 75% of total EU car sales from July to September," the association said in a statement.

Automakers in the EU must sell more zero-emission cars in order to meet tougher fleet average limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas blamed for climate change. From 2021, the EU fleet-wide average emission target for new cars will be 95 g CO2/km.

Sales have been driven by government incentives and by an increasing number of new models designed purely as electric cars.

But demand has been limited by a lack of places to charge electric cars, including for people who live in apartment buildings and can't install a charging box at home.

Germany's auto association, the VDA, said there's only one publicly available charging station for every 17 electric cars.