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How Europe Became the World’s Biggest Electric-Car Market—and Why It Might Not Last

Europeans are buying electric cars at a faster pace than ever. But some worry the trend will be short-lived.

2/28/2021 6:15:00 PM

Europeans are buying electric cars at a faster pace than ever. But some worry the trend will be short-lived.

Europeans are buying electric cars at a faster pace than ever, encouraged by government subsidies and the availability for the first time of models built by their favorite brands. But some worry the trend will be short-lived.

. Premium car makers such as BMW AG, Mercedes and Audi launched high-end EVs. This year, Mercedes is set to launch the EQS, which will be an electric and highly automated successor to the flagship S-Class.Around 65 new EV models launched in Europe last year—twice as many as in China—and another 99 are slated to come to market this year. That compares with 15 launches in North America last year and a planned 64 this year.

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Manufacturers say the incentives and an explosion in the number of new EV models came together at the right time, energizing both supply and demand.Gone are the long waits at charging stations: Chinese electric-vehicle startup NIO is pioneering battery-swap systems, challenging Tesla and other rival car makers. Here’s how NIO and Tesla are racing for the world’s largest EV market in China. Photo illustration: Sharon Shi

“You have to have the right product on offer…That’s what we saw last year in Europe,” said Britta Seeger, board member at Daimler AG in charge of global sales. “The offer is better, and subsidies are supporting sales.”The availability of EVs with familiar brand names is also pushing sales. Hallgeir Langeland, a 65-year-old Norwegian environmentalist and former politician, hasn’t owned a car for 25 years, but when Ford Motor Co. rolled out a fully electric version of its Mustang last year, he didn’t think twice.

“I had to have it,” he said, recalling the Mustang he drove in his youth. Now he can’t wait for it to arrive in March. “It’s cherry red.”The purchase was made easier by subsidies that have made Norway the world’s biggest EV market per capita, prompting

a tongue-in-cheek Super Bowl adby General Motors Co. starring Will Ferrell, who called on American consumers to buy EVs and crush Norway.Christian Burg, who runs a business building energy-efficient houses in Germany, had driven a diesel BMW X3 SUV for years. When the government boosted subsidies for electric cars last summer, he applied for a small-business grant and switched to the new iX3 plug-in hybrid version of the car.

“We received 3,750 euros [equivalent to $4,500] in cash incentives,” he said.Sales of plug-in electric vehicles in Europe rose 137% to 1.4 million vehicles last year, outpacing China, which recorded a 12% increase to 1.3 million, and the U.S., where sales rose 4% to 328,000, according to, a research group.

The state of Europe’s market is reminiscent of China’s electric-vehicle trajectory years ago. Determined to leapfrog Western markets, Beijing provided hefty subsidies for purchases and required manufacturers to ensure that a certain percentage of new cars produced each year were electric.

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The effort helped spawn hundreds of startups and boosted the share of EVs to more than 8% of new-car sales by mid-2019. Then Beijing slashed incentives in June 2019 and sales plunged, with the share of EVs falling below 5% by the end of the year. When the pandemic hit, China’s EV sales slumped further, raising doubts about Beijing’s ability to reach its goal of having them account for 20% of new-car sales by 2025.

A production line for Volkswagen’s ID.4 in Zwickau, Germany.Photo:matthias rietschel/ReutersBeijing reinstated EV subsidies early last year but slashed them again in January in a renewed effort to wean consumers off them.In Europe, national governments are reconsidering plans to phase out the current regime of EV subsidies at the end of the year. Analysts suggest that governments in countries that produce a lot of autos, such as Germany and France, could extend aid beyond this year.

While most industry leaders welcome government efforts to jump-start new technology markets such as electric vehicles, auto makers worry that subsidies will only have a short-term impact and without broader structural changes won’t create a self-sustaining market.

Instead, they urge governments to focus more on developing infrastructure such as charging stations, providing support for building battery plants, and taxing carbon-dioxide emissions. Read more: The Wall Street Journal »

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The grid in ALL countries can not handle the loads. FULL STOP. And some don't. Europeans are buying electric cars at a faster pace than ever. But some worry the trend will be short-lived; when Europe can't supply the power. Here's a version from about 125 years ago: Europeans are buying horseless carriages at a faster pace than ever. But some worry the trend will be short-lived

Europe isn’t US, religious people there are more conscious and protective of nature, and the countries are capable of placing charging stations in most places to make it easier to transition for regular folks. And they don’t have Murdoch cronies poisoning the well, except for UK. If you have ever owned an EV you will actually understand this is a long term total shift, not something short term!

I remember when I started, they thought it was a joke, now they all want to be a part of it.. well, the sky is wide enough for all the birds to fly. Invest in Bitcoin today and be forever grateful.. dm lisaMakT for more information The trend will stop unless the cars will drive further as goes for the price of such cars coming from a European country myself I don't think the price is justified