Car Sales: A Seismic Shift Shows Electrified Vehicles Overtake Diesels in Europe

A seismic shift has begun in car sales. The electrification of the automotive industry has started to make a shift in car sales never before seen. In September, battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hybrids have outsold diesel vehicles in Europe. In fact, one-in-four vehicle sales were either BEVs, PHEVs and HEVs.

Diesel car sales take a hit

Car Sales: A man inspects a car inside a dealership
A man looks at the sticker price of a new Chevrolet | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

According to JATO Dynamics Limited, an independent automotive research company, the numbers of sales in September for 27 markets in Europe show that one of the two internal combustion engines was outsold by alternative fueled vehicles for the first time in modern history.

This September, gasoline vehicles made 47 percent of car sales, 24.8 percent for diesel vehicle sales. Those have been traditionally the largest players in the past. But now, electric vehicles came in at 25 percent for the monthly sales. 

Year over year sales are also impressive. The numbers show a growing trend that has seemingly catapulted forward. Just since last year, 

“Demand for gasoline and diesel cars shows double-digit drops compared to September 2019 while the volume of EVs increased by 139% to 327,800 units – a record in terms of both volume and market share. This is the first time that EVs have broken the 300,000 units monthly mark, and only the second time that they have counted for more than 20% of registrations.” – JATO

Just how big of a shift is this? JATO went on to deep-dive the numbers. They found that exactly 10 years ago, half of all sales were diesel vehicles. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, managed less than 1 percent of sales. 

Contributing factors to the change in car sales

Dieselgate certainly took a lot of the spotlight away from diesel-fueled vehicles. The massive publicity regarding several manufacturers trying to make diesel emissions seems cleaner than they are soured some consumers at the same time that EVs were starting to become more affordable. Additionally, many people began seeing that the gobs of torque and high mileage provided by diesels could be found in EVs or hybrids. Many governmental agencies were also making stricter environmental regulations making it more difficult for diesels to have a future, while also making it easier for a consumer to switch to electrification.

Dieselgate irony


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The ironic thing right now is that Volkswagen Group, a consortium of manufacturers including Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and others, triggered the Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal. Yet, the company is now the number one seller of electrified or hybrid vehicles in Europe. As far as the breakdown of sales by manufacturers, 

“Pure electric car demand was led by Tesla, although its volume fell by 5%, while its closes rivals such as Volkswagen and Renault saw increases of 352% and 211% respectively. If we look across all carmakers, then Volkswagen Group is now Europe’s top-selling BEV maker, ahead of Tesla. In September, Mercedes-Benz was the leader in the plug-in hybrid segment with 22% market share, followed by Volvo and BMW.” – JATO

In short, a seismic shift in consumer awareness and the purchasing of electric vehicles is happening. It’s a sales spark that is increasing in volume incredibly fast, while diesel sales are concurrently in decline. It makes speculators wonder what the automotive industry will be driven by in another ten years.