European consumers have snapped up 143,595 alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) over the last three months, a 17.4% jump over the same period in 2014 – according to new figures from the European Automotive Manufacturers Association.

AFVs as a group include plug-in electric, hybrid vehicles, and those powered by propane or natural gas, rather than petrol or diesel.

And while a 17.4% sales boost to 143,595 vehicles may not sound like much – especially considering that in May alone, some 1.5 million cars and vans of all shapes and types of propulsion were sold across the same continent – when the numbers are broken down, there are some very positive trends emerging.

The biggest of which are electric car sales. They are up over 50% year on year. Over the past three months, 27,575 drivers across the continent chose to go electric and within the EU member countries, France is leading the way, followed by the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. French drivers snapped up a total of 6,690 electric cars over the past three months, 526 more than in the UK. German drivers accounted for 5111 battery-powered cars and the Netherlands for 3,479.

However, it’s beyond the EU in Norway where an example is being set for other territories to follow. Despite a population of just over 5 million, 8,914 drivers snapped up an electric car over the past three months. And it’s a similar story in Sweden which unlike Norway is an EU member state but like its neighbour has a low population (9.5 million) and high battery-powered car sales (2,160).

Sales of hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of a fossil-fuel-powered engine alongside a battery motor to reduce emissions and in some cases offer up to 20-30 miles of electric-only travel are also up by 22.6% year on year, and at 53,443 units are almost exactly double the total of electric vehicle sales. This also means that 62,577 vehicles of the overall 143,595 AFV total were powered by natural gas or propane.

When total sales of AFVs are considered, the UK is where demand is greatest within the EU countries – up 62.4% year-on-year, followed by France (59.7%) and Spain (58%). But even here, Norway is speeding ahead with a 74.1% increase in demand for all forms of AFVs. – AFP/Relaxnews

 

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