In 2021, Tesla and Volkswagen were the best-selling electric car brands in Europe with the Tesla Model 3, Renault Zoe, and VW ID.3 the top-selling battery-electric car models.
In full-year 2021, battery-electric vehicle (BEV) sales in Europe increased by 63% to a record 1.2 million passenger vehicles and a market share of 10%. Tesla narrowly outsold Volkswagen as the best-selling electric car brand in Europe in 2021 although the larger Volkswagen Group was the top electric car manufacturer in Europe with a market share of 25%. Europe’s favorite electric car models in 2021 were the Tesla Model 3, Renault Zoe, Volkswagen ID3, and VW ID4.
European Electric Car Market in 2021 (Full Year)
According to JATO Dynamics’ data for 28 European markets, a total of 1,205,387 pure electric passenger cars were registered in 2021. This was a 63% increase over the 739,329 units registered in 2020, and 3.4 times higher than the 2019 total. Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics commented: “Over the last 10 years, pure electric cars have grown faster than any other segment, including SUVs which posted a new record last year.”
In 2018, BEVs represented 1.3% of all new passenger cars registered in Europe. This jumped to 2.3% in 2019, and to 6.2% in 2020 during the worst period of the pandemic. Munoz continued: “Due to this rapid growth, EVs now have an established foothold in Europe. And despite the challenges last year, their popularity has continued to grow accounting for 10.3% of the market in 2021.”
The increased popularity of EVs in 2021 was driven by two key factors:
- Firstly, the continued availability of generous government incentives resulted in an uptick in demand as more consumers began to see the vehicles as a real alternatve to traditional ICE models.
- And secondly, due to the global shortage of semiconductors, many OEMs priotised EV sales, along with SUVs, over petrol and diesel vehicles meaning dealerships faced less disruption with supply.
Battery-Electric Car Sales per European Country in 2021
In 2021, Europe consolidated its position as the world’s second-largest market for BEVs both in terms of volume and market share, behind China which saw a 12.3% total market share for these vehicles. Munoz added: “Europe’s results are encouraging given how expensive EVs are when compared to their Chinese counterparts.”
The efforts of OEMs to expand their EV offering have given European consumers more choice than ever before. For example, in 2018 there were 28 different electric models available in the market. The offer increased to 33 in 2019, and to 57 in 2020. In 2021, consumers in Europe could choose from 74 different electric models.
→ See 2021 (Full Year) Europe: Battery Electric and Plug-In Hybrid Car Sales per EU, UK, and EFTA Country for a detailed breakdown of statistics by country.
Best-Selling Electric Car Brands in Europe in 2021
As the European EV offer has grown, so has the competition and Tesla no longer holds such a dominant position within the market. Two years ago, the US manufacturer held a 31% share of the BEV market, thanks largely to the arrival of the Model 3. In 2021, Tesla was the most popular BEV brand with 167,549 units across 28 European markets, however, its market share fell to 13.9% and it outsold Volkswagen by just 1192 cars.
Munoz commented: “As a relatively new brand within the European market, Tesla continues to attract the attention of consumers. This was also seen with the arrival of the Model Y in Q3 2021, which further boosted Tesla’s growth in Europe.”
In 2021, Volkswagen led the BEV rankings by group, as one in four vehicles belonged to one of the German manufacturer’s six brands — a market dominance as strong as Volkswagen’s share of the total European passenger vehicle market in 2021. Volkswagen was more than ten points ahead of its closest rival, Stellantis, which took a 14.5% market share, followed by Tesla with 13.9%. The Volkswagen Group led in 19 markets; followed by Stellantis in 4; Renault Group in 3; and Tesla and Hyundai in one each.
As seen across the ICE market, the expansion of SUV models was one of the biggest drivers for growth in the BEV market. The shift away from traditional ICE models has, until last year, been limited by the lack of choice within the SUV segment. Munoz continued: “It’s clear that consumers around the world want to drive SUVs, whether they are petrol, diesel, or electric”. Last year, OEMs started to deploy their low emission SUV offering, allowing these models to hold almost 40% of total BEV registrations.
Best-Selling Electric Car Models in Europe in 2021 (Full Year)
The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car model in Europe in 2021 while the Renault Zoe slipped to second. The Model 3 topped the BEV rankings in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, the UK, Greece, Norway, Portugal, and Poland — it was the 17th most popular car model overall in Europe in 2021. However, the Zoe was able to outperform the newer Volkswagen ID.3. (In Germany, the aging UP even outsold the ID.3.)
The Volkswagen ID.4, Skoda Enyaq, and Fiat 500 were the three biggest market share winners.
Car Sales Statistics for Europe in 2021
- Car Sales and Market Analysis: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, Full Year 2021
- Top-Selling Car Models: Top 25 Models 2021, Top 15 Electric Models
- Sales per European Country: Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year
- Sales by Brand: Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year
- Electric and PHEV Sales by Country: Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year, Top Electric Brands and Models