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2020 - year zero for zero emission vehicles  
Matthias Schmidt | Interim Editor

Published: Fri, 19th October 2018 20:03:18 GMT

VW MEB platform ID

"Forget current volumes of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). These figures, failing to create a spark, at just 1.1 per cent mix of total West European passenger car registrations and helped by volume leader and non-EU member state, Norway will soon be regarded as the dress rehearsal performance before the fully charged main show begins in 2020

With tough EU fleet average CO2 emission targets arriving in 2020/21, the combined 28 European statesí BEV electric car sales mix is unsurprisingly even lower thanks to the subtraction of Norway and the addition of so called new member states. 

During this yearís first half just 65,713 pure electric passenger cars were registered in these 28 member states according to Acea data. 

Thatís less the global Mercedes S-Class sales total last year. Just 2,175 of that total were accounted for by the new members states or just 3.3 per cent of the regional total. 

Out of a total of 8,449,247 new passenger car registrations in the region during the same January to June period the combined EU BEV market sales mix was just 0.8 per cent.

However not to fret as there is good news. 

Thanks to tough European regulations passenger car manufacturers operating in the EU have to meet tough CO2 fleet emissions levels coming into force from 2020. 

Up until now manufacturers werenít under much obligation to push likely unprofitable electric vehicles, that in a free market economy doesnít necessarily make much business sense for companies under pressure from shareholders to maintain tough profit margin targets. 

Step in classic government intervention. 

Apart from Toyota, long ago taking a different strategy to other manufacturers, focussing heavily on their hybrids, others betting on alternative technology, have seen their goalposts change. 

Since diesegate, these manufacturers are more and more seeing plug-in vehicles as their last minute saviours. 

Porsche has recently proven that exiting diesel doesnít mean a long-term rise in CO2 as earlier suggested thanks to its successful diversification into plug-in hybrid technology. 

In Germany the first results of this can be seen with its September CO2 average falling to 170.5g/km from closer to 200g/km earlier in the year according to KBA data.

From 2020, the first year when these standards come into place, Western Europeís passenger car market is likely to be flooded with plug-in vehicles making volumes of electric cars we currently know appear as a light mist compared to the deluge coming on the horizon. 

Electric car orders have likely also been stored up like a small lake behind a dam, and once 2020 arrives the floodgates will be opened and deliveries can commence. 

Due to current regulations it doesnít make much financial sense for manufacturers to push their electric vehicles now and risk losing vital deliveries that count to their 2020 targets from that point. 

The vital super credits available for plug-in vehicles emitting under 50g/km of CO2 are also causing manufacturers to likely impose artificial delays to electric car orders currently. 

From 2020 VW Group alone will be adding an annual global capacity of around half a million pure electric cars to its annual production capacity alone. 300,000 of which will come from a new MEB electric car production facility constructed in China and 100,000 in 2020 from its MEB facility in Zwickau Germany. 

Audi and Porsche will also be adding volumes likely to be over 50,000 combined.

VWís pure electric output last year (2017) stood at around 20,000 units made up of its e-Golf and e-Up models.

Once we reach January 2021 then it will be time to discuss if what some are calling ambitious 2025/2030 CO2 targets are in fact more achievable than imagined currently. 

One thing is for sure, without this pressure from European lawmakers European manufacturers would have been in danger of being left behind in an ever more globalised marketplace. 

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