Europe overtook China for government and industry investment in electric cars and batteries last year, analysis suggests
Europe secured a record €60bn-worth of investment from governments and industry to produce electric vehicles and batteries last year, with stricter CO2 targets helping attract higher sums for zero emission vehicles than even the world's largest car market China, according to fresh analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E).
The green NGO's EV investment report today indicates interest in Europe's rapidly growing battery car market continues to surge, with investment in the sector 19 times higher than in 2018, and 3.5 times higher than that committed in China.
Germany secured by far the largest chunk of the overall investment last year, with the country's €40bn coming mainly from Volkswagen Group, as well as US EV giant Tesla, which last year announced plans to build a 'gigafactory' in Berlin, according to T&E.
Volkswagen, which has plans to produce 75 all-electric vehicle models worldwide by 2029, also had a major hand in the €6.6bn investment in EVs and batteries in the Czech Republic last year, the analysis found.
Italy, meanwhile, secured €1.7bn in EV investments last year from Fiat, while France, Sweden and the UK each got around €1bn from car manufacturers, T&E found. Spain also received €300m from Opel, and manufacturers Hyundai and Kia committed €80m overall to Croatia.
It follows the introduction of tougher vehicle CO2 targets across the EU at the start of the year which require automakers to emit a maximum of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre on average from cars they sell by 2021, or potentially face multi-billion euro fines.
Saul Lopez, e-mobility manager at T&E, said the stricter targets had "concentrated carmarkers and governments' minds" to "finally close the gap with China" in EV investment terms.
"A few years ago Europe was nowhere in the race for EV supremacy," he said. "Success in this market is now Europe's industrial policy, and lawmakers should double-down with stimulus measures that will also drive a green recovery."
The car sector is expected to suffer significantly due to the impending recession wrought by the coronavirus crisis, however, although EV sales are expected to fare better than petrol and deisel sales worldwide. Recent analysis BloombergNEF suggests global petrol and deisel car sales have in fact already peaked, and that while EV sales are likely to drop 18 per cent in 2020, they are on course to recover again next year.
Auto trade bodies have been seeking "some adjustment to the timing" of the new CO2 standards - which are set to become more stringent over time - in the wake of the coronavirus crisis which has upended the car industry, with lockdown measures placing restrictions on car production.
But with the EU Commission expected to unveil its highly-anticipated stimulus package tomorrow aimed at driving Europe's economy towards recovery after Covid-19, T&E urged EU policymakers to ensure any aid the car industry receives is contingent on firms prioritising EV production.
It also said the EU should establish purchase incentives to boost zero emission car sales - particularly in corporate, taxi and car sharing fleets - and called for the phase out of fossil fuel car sales across Europe from 2035 at the latest.
"Covid has wrought human tragedy and economic turmoil," said Lopez. "But the EU and governments can use the recovery to emerge with a healthier, greener economy that reinforces its EV industrial strategy and creates thousands of jobs."
It came a survey of 20,000 British motorists polled by the AA found more than 40 per cent are planning to drive less in future after the current lockdown lifts, with around four in five also indicating they will take some action to reduce their impact on air pollution, according to the BBC.
The poll findings come amidst dramatic reductions in air pollution across the UK since lockdown measures began due to fewer cars on the roads, and suggest Britain's motorists are keen to capitalise on these improvements going forward in their personal travel behaviours.
A quarter of respondents said they planned to work from home more, another quarter said they would be flying less, while one in five plan to cycle more, the poll found.
"We have all enjoyed the benefits of cleaner air during lockdown and it is gratifying that the vast majority of drivers want to do their bit to maintain the cleaner air," said AA president Edmund King. "Walking and cycling more, coupled with less driving and more working from home, could have a significant effect on both reducing congestion and maintaining cleaner air."
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