BEVs Biggest Losers in Europe Car Sales Slump

Tesla sales suffer most as Toyota's gas-hybrid and PHEV products rise despite challenging economic conditions.

Paul Myles, European Editor

April 18, 2024

1 Min Read
Toyota C-HR phev
Toyota hybrid powertrains defy sudden car sale slump in Europe.

Battery-electric vehicles are the biggest losers in a surprise dip in new-car sales in Europe being blamed on a market downturn and the early Easter holidays.

Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Assn. (ACEA) shows overall sales fell 5.2% year-on-year in March, marking the first decline this year and the biggest since July 2022, Reuters reports.

Automaker groups, including Volkswagen and Stellantis, have already warned of a tough market ahead for 2024 as a result of weak global demand for BEVs, increasing Chinese competition, sustained cost pressures and geopolitical tensions.

Reflecting the slowdown in BEV adoption, Europe saw a drop of 11.3% from the previous year, while gas-hybrid vehicle registrations were up by 12.6%, mainly because of strong sales in France and Italy.

National variations see car registrations falling year-on-year 6.2% in Germany, 4.7% in Spain, 3.7% in Italy and 1.5% in France. Conversely, the U.K. saw a rise of 10.4% for the same period albeit thanks to a 30% increase from commercial fleet buyers, while private consumer sales fell 7.7%, the worst-performing sector in Europe driven by the country’s enduring cost-of-living crisis.

Industry experts point to BEV sales slowing in the face of inadequate investment in domestic capacity and technology development, cost and charging infrastructure. At the same time, consumers are turning to electrified hybrid powertrain products that require less of a lifestyle compromise for consumers than BEVs and now account for a European Union market share of 29%, up from 24.4% a year ago.

European car registrations by brand saw Volkswagen fall 9%, Stellantis 12.6% and Renault 2.1%. Meanwhile, Toyota, the perennial champion of hybrid powertrain as an essential transition technology, saw EU car sales rise 18.4% in March, while BEV maker Tesla recorded a drop of 30.4% from last year.

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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