Hybrids outsell diesels in Europe for first time

BERLIN – Electrified cars from plain hybrids to full-electric cars had some impressive sales numbers for 2021. Conventional, non-plug-in hybrids outsold diesel cars in Europe for the first time in 2021, albeit by just 48 vehicles, data showed on Wednesday.

One in 11 cars sold were fully electric, the data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association showed, totalling just under 880,000 vehicles. Plug-in hybrid cars were just barely behind full EVs in sales for the year.

A total of 1,901,239 million self-charging hybrid cars were registered in the European Union throughout the year, a significant jump from the 1.1 million registered in 2020.

Diesel registrations, which have cratered since the “Dieselgate” scandal in 2015, fell by a third from last year’s 2.77 million to 1,901,191.

New government subsidies for low- or zero-emission vehicles that took effect as part of pandemic recovery programs trebled sales of plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicle sales in 2020 to over one million, with a roughly even split between the two types.

The plug-in hybrids are seen by carmakers as a technology of transition to fully-electric cars, but their green credentials have been criticized by environmental groups as studies have shown drivers rely more on the internal combustion engine over the battery, making them effectively less clean than they could be.

In 2021, battery-electric vehicle sales grew by 63.1% to nearly 878,500 cars, the data showed, while plug-in hybrid sales grew 70.7% to nearly 867,100.

Gas-powered cars remained the most common fuel type but by a lower margin than last year, constituting 40% of new registrations, down from 48% in 2020.

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