ELECTRIC CAR
© Daniel Pier/NurPhoto
Volvo show the new model of VOLVO C40 ELECTRIC during the Paris Nautic (Volvo Partner) - december 09, 2021, Paris
New data shows that electric car sales overtook diesel models for the first time in December of 2021 as motorists avail of subsidies for emission free vehicles.

In a nutshell

With nearly all car manufacturers offering electric vehicle (EVs) models and with governments across the world offering incentives to buy emission free cars, preliminary data gathered by The Financial Times shows that for the first time sales of EVs outstripped diesel cars this past December in Europe.

According to The FT, more than a fifth of new cars sold across 18 European markets were powered exclusively by batteries. Meanwhile, the share of new diesel cars, including diesel hybrids, dropped below the 20 per cent mark.

By the numbers

Across western Europe 176,000 EVs were sold during the month of December - an all-time record. It was 6 per cent higher than the same month in 2020. Meanwhile, the sale of diesel cars in December 2021 dropped to 160,000.

Diesel-powered car sales have been in decline across Europe, especially since a scandal back in 2015 in which Volkswagen was found to have cheated on emission tests for diesel engines. The German manufacturer is believed to have cheated in the testing of around 11 million diesel engine vehicles and was fined $590 million for its part in the emissions scandal.

Volkswagen is the leading electric vehicle producer across western Europe having sold more than 310,000 battery-powered cars in 2021. Overall it's a small but growing percentage of the 3.5 million cars the automaker sold in Europe last year.

Volkswagen was also by far the top-selling EV maker in Ireland for 2021, selling a total of 2,697 electric-powered cars according to data gathered by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry. It represented a 31 per cent rise in EV sales over 2020 for Volkswagen. Kia and Tesla took second and third place in EV sales, selling 954 and 792 models respectively.

Tesla had a bumper year in 2021 and it now sells more cars in Ireland than established players such as Honda and Lexus.

The switch from cars operated by an internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) to electric vehicles is a key part of the government's Climate Action Plan, which wants 1 million Irish cars to be EVs by the end of the decade.

Looking ahead

As automakers deal with regulations that look set to ban older diesel models and as more EV models are released it looks likely that sales of electric vehicles will outpace diesel-powered cars in the months ahead. One thing that could throw a spanner in the works is supply chain issues affecting the major manufacturers, especially with procuring semi conductors.