The race to electric

Increasing numbers of road users across the globe are now choosing to drive electric vehicles as we progress towards a more sustainable future for our planet. Although the rising popularity of electric vehicles is a worldwide trend, some countries have been quicker to adopt the new technology than others.

To determine which country is winning the race to electric, our research considers four factors across 33 European countries including the percentage of cars on the road that are electric, the growth of their electric fleet in the last year and the volume and increase of electric vehicle charging points. The research also predicts the locations where EV adoption is likely to be the highest in 2030.

Norway is currently winning the race to electric

Rank Country % of vehicles that are electric Total number of EV charging points Growth in EV infrastructure Growth of EV and hybrid vehicle fleet
1 Norway 20.85% 18,656 2.19% 116.42%
2 Iceland 10.00% 904 126.57% 94.23%
3 Netherlands 5.12% 90,284 34.67% 64.23%
4 Sweden 6.98% 25,197 85.01% 101.31%
5 France 3.07% 37,128 21.27% 215.74%
6 Bulgaria 1.05% 531 173.71% 137.05%
7 Romania 1.20% 1,161 131.74% 140.84%
8 Germany 3.42% 59,410 30.38% 65.35%
9 Luxembourg 4.87% 1,782 67.80% 106.97%
10 Belgium 3.76% 13,695 59.95% 111.24%

With 20% of all Norway’s cars being electric, it’s safe to say that they are currently winning the race to electric. In 2021, Norway had 18,656 electric vehicle recharging points, and the size of its electric and hybrid vehicle fleet has grown by 116% since 2020.

In second and third place are Iceland and the Netherlands, respectively. As of 2021, 10% of the vehicles on Iceland’s roads were electric, with the number of charging points growing by 126% from 2020 to 2021. Whilst the Netherlands has the highest number of electric vehicle charging points, just 5% of vehicles in the country are electric.

UK predicted to have the third largest EV fleet in Europe in 2030

To determine the European countries likely to have the largest number of EVs on the road in 2030, the research generated predictions based on the number of newly registered EV vehicles from 2015 to 2021.

Rank Country 2021 2030 predictions
1 Germany 336,824 1,234,056
2 France 151,751 603,299
3 United Kingdom 155,753 596,713
4 Norway 75,888 289,860
5 Sweden 67,648 288,740
6 Italy 68,870 261,809
7 Netherlands 47,752 197,622
8 Belgium 35,211 145,401
9 Spain 33,645 142,647
10 Denmark 32,646 124,795

Germany is predicted to see a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles on its roads by 2030, with figures rising from 336,824 in 2021 to 1,234,056 in 2030, an increase of 266%.

France and the United Kingdom are expected to follow behind Germany as France’s electric vehicle usage is predicted to rise from 151,751 in 2021 to 603,299 by 2030, and the United Kingdom’s is expected to increase from 155,753 in 2021 to 596,713 by 2030. Both of these countries are expected to see a percentage increase of almost 300% between 2021 and 2030.

The most popular EV models in Europe

As electric vehicles grow in popularity, car manufacturers are meeting the rising demand by offering consumers a greater choice of models to choose from - but what are Europe’s most popular electric cars?

Despite its social popularity and the fact that it is the brand that instantly springs to mind when many people think of electric vehicles, none of Tesla’s models rank in the top three most popular electric vehicles in Europe, with only 5.7% of electric vehicle owners choosing Tesla’s most popular model.

The Renault Zoe tops the list, with 8.6% of electric car drivers choosing it over any other vehicle. 

Rank Most popular EV models in Europe Percentage of all European EVs
1 Renault Zoe 8.60%
2 Nissan Leaf 5.90%
3 Mitsubishi Outlander 5.80%
4 Tesla Model 3 5.70%
5 Volkswagen e-Golf 3.70%
6 BMW i3 3.60%
7 Tesla Model S 2.80%
8 Volkswagen Passat 2.40%
9 Hyundai Kona 2.30%
10 Volkswagen Golf 2.00%
  Other 57.20%

Sources and methodology

To determine which countries are winning the race to electric, we collected data across four different metrics for 33 European countries (Note* the European countries selected for this study were based on those with available data, which include the EU, Turkey, the EFTA and the United Kingdom) - see metrics below.

The figures for each of these metrics were awarded a weighted score which was then combined to give each destination a final index score out of ten. We then ranked each country based on these scores to identify which country is winning the race to electric.

AF Fleet % of total fleet (2021) PHEV & BEV

Total number of AF infrastructure (2021) CP (charging points) & Growth of AF infrastructure (2021) CP (charging points)

Growth of AF passenger cars and vans vehicle fleet (M1+N1) PHEV & PHEV (2021)

To predict which countries will have the most EVs on their roads by 2030, we collected data on the number of electric vehicles that have been registered each year from 2015 to 2021. To generate a prediction of EV adoption rates in 2030 we used linear regression to draw a line through existing data points and found for future dates the probable development of data.

https://alternative-fuels-observatory.ec.europa.eu/transport-mode/road