Cars registrations remained stable in Europe in 2018 despite diesel struggles, while EVs outsold PHEVs
James Attwood, digital editor
30 January 2019

Sales of diesel-engined cars dropped by nearly a fifth in Europe last year, but this was offset by a rise in demand for petrol and electrified vehicles.

In total, 15.6 million vehicles were registered in Europe last year, according to data from industry analyst Jato. That was an increase of 346 cars over 2017, despite a sharp decline in the final quarter of the year due to multiple models being temporarily unavailable as a result of the introduction of the new WLTP emissions test.

Demand for diesel fell in 20 of the 27 European countries, headed by a 30% decline in the UK, with 5.59 million registrations in 2018. That's a decline of 18% on 2017, when 6.76 million were registered. Diesel cars accounted for 35% of the total European car market, the lowest level since 2001.

The fall in diesel sales was offset by a rise in registrations of petrol engined cars, which accounted for 57% of total sales. Around a million more petrol-engined cars were sold in 2018 than the previous year.

There was also a continued rise in demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), with 944,800 registrations in 2018. That represents 6.8% of the car market, up from 737,400 in 2017.

Notably, the biggest rise in AFV demand was for fully electric vehicles, with registrations up by 47% from 132,800 in 2017 to 195,300 in 2018. As a result, registrations of electric vehicles outstripped those of plug-in hybrids (180,000) last year. Meanwhile, there were 555,000 hybrid vehicles registered, an increase of 24% year-on-year.

Top European markets, brands and models

Germany remained Europe’s biggest car market in 2018, with 3,435,789 registrations, a year-on-year drop of 0.2%. The UK remained second, with 2,367,147 registrations, despite a 6.8% fall year-on-year. That ties with Sweden for the biggest decline in Europe.

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Lithuania was the biggest-growing market, with 32,382 registrations, representing 25.4% growth on 2017. The Romanian market grew by 21.4%, with 158,268 registrations.

Volkswagen was the top performing brand across the 27 markets, with 1,746,411 registrations, compared to 1,099,289 for Renault and 1,014,190 for Ford.

The German firm also had two of the three top models, with the Golf remaining Europe’s best-seller despite an 8% year-on-year decline in registrations to 445,754 – largely due to a 30% drop in diesel model sales.

Polo registrations rose by 10% to 299,920, moving the supermini to third in the European best-seller list behind the Renault Clio (336,268). 

Read more

2018's most popular cars in Europe - by country

2018's most popular cars in Europe - by market segment

PHEVs face uncertain future in the UK

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Comments
19

TS7

30 January 2019

...have been falsely high for years due to unsuspecting folk being mis-sold derv engined cars when their journey profiles didn't warrant it.

30 January 2019

Salesmen were guiding people into diesel (wrongly) and now the figures show what the realistic market for diesel is without shoehorning people into cars they should never have bought in the first place. Doing a school run 3km from home on a daily basis does not warrant owning a diesel car.

Daz

30 January 2019
Dilly wrote:

Salesmen were guiding people into diesel (wrongly) and now the figures show what the realistic market for diesel is without shoehorning people into cars they should never have bought in the first place. Doing a school run 3km from home on a daily basis does not warrant owning a diesel car.

 

Not quite. In the UK at least, the government used to tax diesels rather less. So lots and lots of people bought them. Then the gov decided diesels were bad, and taxed the living daylights out of the people that bought them when it was the gov that encouraged them to buy the things in the first place. What a stitch up.

30 January 2019

It was a stitch-up of the highest order!

Daz

FM8

30 January 2019
Dilly wrote:

Salesmen were guiding people into diesel (wrongly) and now the figures show what the realistic market for diesel is without shoehorning people into cars they should never have bought in the first place. Doing a school run 3km from home on a daily basis does not warrant owning a diesel car.

Regardless of the environmental issues, that's a personal decision and one 'we' are currently free to choose. You can argue the school run doesn't warrant a 2.5 tonne SUV, you could argue a 3km school doesn't warrant a vehicle at all.

30 January 2019

 You often insult posters for no reason so I'll treat you with the same disdain you treat others who make fair and valid points. Diesel's do not operate well at low temp. Hence why taking them on 3km school run or any short journey makes no sense. Your argument for not needing a car for a 3km journey is asinine. The reason for not using a diesel on a short journey is environmental. I don't quite know what point you are trying to make nor do I care.

 

Daz

FM8

30 January 2019
Dilly wrote:

 You often insult posters for no reason so I'll treat you with the same disdain you treat others who make fair and valid points. Diesel's do not operate well at low temp. Hence why taking them on 3km school run or any short journey makes no sense. Your argument for not needing a car for a 3km journey is asinine. The reason for not using a diesel on a short journey is environmental. I don't quite know what point you are trying to make nor do I care.

...you may have me mixed up with another. FMS?.  Anyway, the point I was trying to make, salesmen are not necessarily to blame, if someone wants a diesel they can have one.  Not everyone buys a diesel simply because they do high mileage, the school arguement isn't foolish, it's just as valid.

30 January 2019
Dilly wrote:

Salesmen were guiding people into diesel (wrongly) and now the figures show what the realistic market for diesel is without shoehorning people into cars they should never have bought in the first place. Doing a school run 3km from home on a daily basis does not warrant owning a diesel car.

It doesnt warrant owning an SUV either, but millions do.. The government of the day were responsible for the rise in diesel sales, manufacturers are responsible for the rise in SUV's, many still heavilly reliant on diesel engines.. 

30 January 2019

The diesel march was led by VAG who thought they could sell diesel to everyone for every trip, various reviewers didn't help the situation either.   Always said the true market should be around 20%

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

30 January 2019
xxxx wrote:

The diesel march was led by VAG who thought they could sell diesel to everyone for every trip, various reviewers didn't help the situation either.   Always said the true market should be around 20%

 

Actually, the diesel march was led by Browns Labour government. After that, ALL the manufacturers knew they hit the pollution lottery. The reason VW sold so many is because they are VW and people trusted them.

 

Daz

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