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The number of electric cars worldwide has been estimated at around 10m vehicles for a Munich Mobility (Frankfurt show successor) survey which will be done annually.

The most electric cars are in China (4.2m), followed by Europe (3.2m) and the US (1.7m), show organisers said on their website.

The differences in market development between continents became especially clear last year. Europe registered the most new electric cars in 2020 – 1,368,167 vehicles – and overtook China (1,246,289 cars) for the first time. Germany triumphed in Europe with 394,943.

In comparison, 338,359 new EVs were registered in China in 2016, 152,326 in the US (2020: 302,929) and 25,214 in Germany. Five years ago, the Europe tally was was 210,150 so sales more than quadrupled to 2020.

Counting electric cars per 1,000 inhabitants, Europe also leads with 6.1 EVs per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the global average of 1.4. Penetration in Norway (81), Iceland (36.8) and Sweden (20.6) is significantly higher.

Electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs) are currently distributed very unevenly between different regions of the world. With 4.2m vehicles, China currently tops registrations worldwide and has done so since 2010 (cumulative total 9.88m). However, this lead is shrinking, Europe, which includes the members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), in addition to the European Union, accounts for 3.2m. The US is third with 1.7m.

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Germany ranks third (702,981) behind the US. Four countries combined (Germany, the UK, Norway and France) account for more than half the vehicles currently on the roads in the European market.

Northern and central Europe have a relatively high number of electric vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants while the figure for southern and eastern Europe remains low.

By 2020, thanks to high subsidies, pure electric vehicles accounted for 79% of new electrified vehicles registered in the US, an important market for e-mobility. China even reached a ratio of 80%. With a share of 54%, Europe is still below the global average of 68% for pure battery-electric vehicles – but plug-in hybrids are very popular.

Overall growth in the market for electric vehicles shows that PHEVs serve as an entry-level product that attracts customers to e-mobility in the long term.

China was number one worldwide with 1.25m new electric vehicles registered in 2020 alone (2019: 1.09m). Germany came second with 394,943 new vehicle registrations (2019: 108,839) – making it Europe’s leading market. With a total of 302,929 new vehicles registered over the past year (2019: 321,702), the US took third place. France is also among the European leaders, with 185,785 new vehicle registrations, compared to 61,434 the previous year; the UK also saw significant growth, with 177,022 new electric vehicles registered (2019: 72,993).

In percentage terms, European markets reported significant growth in 2020. The number of new vehicle registrations in Germany increased by 263%, followed by Italy (247%) and Denmark (246%). France came next with 202%, while the UK posted growth of 143%. In China, the number of new vehicle registrations climbed 15% from the previous year.

The rate of growth in China is now much slower than in Europe, where the market has grown to almost five times the size it had in 2015, thanks to high subsidies. Growth in the US has now also slowed, as a result of support programmes coming to an end.

Norway topped the global statistics for 2020, with electric vehicles accounting for 74.8% of total registrations, followed by Iceland (44.6%) and Sweden (32.1%). Compared to 2019, the percentage of electric vehicles sold in these three countries increased (Norway +18.8; Iceland +25.8; Sweden +20.8).

These were followed by the Netherlands (24.7%, +9.6) and Finland (17.7%, +10.9). Next came Denmark (16.4%, +12.2), Switzerland (14.3%, +8.7), Germany (13.5%, +10.5), Portugal (13.5%, +7.9), and Luxembourg (11.4%, 8.1). Although the US ranks third internationally in terms of new vehicle registrations, it only appears towards the bottom of this table, at 2.1% (+0.2).