Electric car sales accelerate as Europe turns away from diesel

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By Orlando Crowcroft  & AFP
A Nissan Leaf charges at a recharge station outside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Friday, Dec. 24, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A Nissan Leaf charges at a recharge station outside the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Friday, Dec. 24, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)   -   Copyright  David Zalubowski/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Europeans bought as many hybrid cars as they did diesel in Europe in 2021 for the first time as the European Commission presses forward with its intention to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035.

Sales of non-rechargeable hybrids - vehicles that run on fuel but also have an electric component that reduces consumption - were up 60% on the previous year and amounted to almost 20% of the total market share.

That is on a par with ordinary diesel vehicles, sales of which fell by 31% across the continent, according to the Association of European Manufacturers (ACEA).

Sales of plug-in hybrids, which can be charged at electric charging points, increased by 70% while fully electric vehicles increased by 63%.

Fully electric vehicles now amount to 9.1% of all vehicles sold, up from 1.9% in 2019 and 5.4% in 2020 due to subsidies by national governments and an increasing supply from manufacturers.

Sales of plug-in hybrids, these vehicles equipped with a combustion engine and a small electric motor, also increased by 70.7%, with 867,092 vehicles sold and an 8.9% market share.

The EC aims to ban sales of combustion engine cars by 2035, prompting Europe's two main markets, France and Germany, to step up both infrastructure and manufacturing of electric vehicles.

But Sweden, Ireland and Italy all saw their electric sales double in one year in 2021.

The United Kingdom saw electric vehicle sales increase by 76% over one year while in Norway, nineteen of the 20 best-selling new car models in Norway in January were electric, with an unprecedented market share of 83.7%.