In the fourth quarter of 2016, demand for alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) in the EU increased only moderately (+1.2%), with registrations totalling 168,103 units.
Results were diverse among the different vehicle categories. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) continued the positive trend, showing double-digit percentage gains during the last quarter (+25.1%) and totalling 76,930 units.
Growth in the electrically chargeable vehicle (ECV) segment, on the other hand, slowed down for the first time in 2016, posting a significant decrease (-16.5%). However, it is important to stress that this figure is based on a comparison with Q4 2015, which saw spectacular growth (+160.5%).
At the same time, demand for cars powered by propane, ethanol or natural gas (NGV) continued to decline (-8.1%), although at a more moderate rate than in previous months and still totalling 41,536 units. The main reason for this downturn is a contraction of the Italian market, which accounts for the majority of LPG and NGV vehicles.
Among the big five markets, Spain (+49.4%), Germany (+21.9%) and the United Kingdom (+14.9%) recorded substantial increases in AFV registrations during the fourth quarter. Growth in these countries was fully driven by demand for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
Italy performed less well than in the last quarter of 2015 (-3.5%) due to a decline in registrations of propane and gas-fuelled cars, which were only partly offset by increases in the electric (+41.1%) and hybrid electric (+41.3%) segments.
France saw a modest decline (-1.4%) in total AFV registrations, mainly the result of a drop in HEV sales (-3.8%). Still, France accounted for the largest number of HEV registrations (15,448) during the fourth quarter of 2016.
Overall in 2016, 609,629 AFVs were registered in the European Union, up 4.1% compared to 2015.
The uplift was mainly driven by hybrid electric vehicles (+27.3%) followed by the ECV segment that saw more modest growth (+4.8%), while the share of other alternative fuels declined (-19.7%). In total, alternative fuel vehicles accounted for 4.2% of total passenger car registrations in 2016, or 4.6% if we look at the EU+EFTA perimeter.