Electric vehicles have not only arrived on the global stage, they’re well and truly on the rise. This is especially the case in Europe, where they were the fastest growing automotive segment in the first half of 2017.
- shares

Overall, the segment grew by 27,000 units – or 56 per cent - to 73,162 units for the January to June period (up from 46,949 in 2016), with a helpful boost provided by the recently launched Hyundai Ioniq.

Even so, Hyundai’s EV contender failed to make it onto the sales podium, finishing in fourth place behind the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, in that order, according to figures published by data agency JATO Dynamics.

And, while the EV segment posted its best result of the year, the market share of battery-powered cars is still small at 0.9 per cent, up from 0.6 per cent in the same period the previous year.

The big winner, though, and second fastest growing segment, is still 'compact' SUVs and crossovers, which leapt 37 per cent to 989,421 sales to June.

The big boost from that segment came from the new Peugeot 3008 (sold in Australia as a medium SUV), adding more than 81,000 unit sales during the first six months, and jumping to number three in the segment.

Good thing Peugeot went from a minivan to an SUV with its latest-generation 3008, given the compact minivan segment was down 5.7 per cent overall.

Volkswagen’s latest-generation Tiguan also notched up a healthy 55,036 sales for total of 128,033 units in the same period.

For EVs, the surge in European sales was spearheaded by Norway, where pretty much every city and town boasts bus-lane access for EVs, recharging stations (lots of them), preferential parking and toll-free travel for electric vehicles.

It’s the result of initiatives that began in the 1990s, in an effort to cut not only pollution and congestion, but also noise in the cities, where many people actually live.

And those initiatives seem to have paid off. Norway has the highest per-capita number of all-electric (battery only) vehicles in the world: more than 100,000 in a country of just 5.2 million people. In fact, in 2016, EV registrations made up almost 40 per cent of new passenger car registrations.

Earlier this year, Norway opened the world’s largest charging station for electric vehicles that can charge up to 28 cars at any one time, in 30 minutes.

More radical, still, is the Netherlands, which intends to phase out fossil-fuelled cars completely by 2025.

Interestingly, it’s China that currently leads the world in EV usage, with around 600,000 all-electric vehicles registered, but with plans to grow that number to five million by 2020.