There are 250 million cars in circulation in Europe, just 0.8% are electric

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The future of zero-emission mobility is still far away: according to the ACEA 2023 Report on vehicles in use, in 2021 just 0.8% of the almost 250 million cars circulating in the European Union were electric. The only nation of the Old Continent in which the share has abundantly exceeded double figures (16.2%) is Norway, where the diffusion of BEVs is growing at a fast pace thanks to almost 9 new registrations out of 10 with this supply, but it is the EFTA nations with Switzerland (1.5%) and Iceland (4.6%).

There are eight countries in the EU with a zero-emissions fleet of more than 1%: the Netherlands and Finland (2.8%), Denmark (2.4%), Sweden (2.2%), Luxembourg (1.9%), Austria (1.5%), Germany (1.2%) and France (1%). Italy stops at 0.3%, but is second (7%) only to Poland (13.4%) for the diffusion of LPG cars, which in Europe account for just 0.1% of the total. Methane is practically an almost exclusively national option: in Italy 2.5% of vehicles in circulation run on natural gas compared to a European average of 0.6%.


The share of electrified vehicles on the road (BEVs, plug-ins and hybrids) had reached 3.6% in 2021.

The advance is rapid (even if “doped” by public incentives), given that in the space of a few years it has exceeded the penetration of gas alternatives (natural and liquefied petroleum), which was 3.1%.

Conventional engines naturally dominate the scene: 51.1% petrol (44.7% in Italy) and 41.9% diesel (42.9% in Italy). The country with the greatest diffusion of the first units is Greece (90%) followed by Holland where it totals 79.5% of the fleet in circulation: the two countries are also those in which the diesel share is almost marginal, 8.6 and 11.1%. Diesel is still very popular in two of the Baltic republics: 67.8% in Lithuania and 65% in Latvia.

Second overall only to the rich Luxembourg (698) which in 2021 had a per capita income of 133,590 dollars, Italy (just 35,657 dollars each) is the nation with the highest motorization rate among the large countries with 672 cars per thousand inhabitants, which also grew in the last five years (636 in 2017). Germany is at 584, France at 573, the United Kingdom at 546 and Spain at 535. The European average is 564: Romania brings up the rear with 396.

The average age of the cars on the road is 12 years and Italy is among the countries that exceed it: 12.2. Not only Spain and Portugal are doing worse (13.5), but practically all the countries of Eastern Europe. A little surprising also Finland (12.6). Older cars (17 years old) travel on Greek roads though. In Luxembourg it is even less than 8 years, while in countries such as Austria, Denmark and Ireland it is under 9 and in Iceland, Switzerland and Belgium it is less than 10.

The ACEA has also published interesting data on vehicle ownership, unfortunately only available for a handful of countries. In Denmark, over a third of families (37.7%) do not have a car: considering the per capita income of $68,000, it is a choice, even if half of those who own one have used one. Austria and Finland have overlapping situations: 23% of households are without a car despite per capita incomes of around $53,600. In Poland (just 18,000 dollars) the families that do not own are almost 28% (18,000 euros). In France, almost a third have two cars, while the share of second-hand cars in Latvia is 97% (21,150 income).

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