Why do France and Portugal double Spain’s electric car sales?

Why does Spain lag behind in electric car sales

Image of electric car being charged. Credit: buffaloboy/Shutterstock.com

Statistics indicate that Spain is falling behind its European neighbours when it comes to embracing electric cars as a greener alternative to traditional vehicles.

Recent data suggests that while countries like Portugal and France are making significant strides in electric car adoption, Spain is trailing behind, with electrified vehicle market share hovering at just 12 per cent.

Fit for 55

The European Union has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions from all cars sold by 55 per cent by 2030 and eventually eliminate the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2035, with exceptions for those using synthetic fuels.

To achieve these goals, European governments are leveraging fiscal incentives to encourage the transition to electric vehicles, addressing the price gap between electric and traditional cars.

Portugal’s business-focused approach

Despite having a per capita income 20 per cent lower than Spain, Portugal has emerged as a leader in electric vehicle adoption, nearly tripling its electric vehicle sales compared to Spain.

The key to Portugal’s success lies in its tax incentives for businesses to upgrade their fleets with cleaner vehicles. Buyers are exempt from registration tax and can deduct VAT in their income tax returns, streamlining the economic benefits.

Furthermore, the bureaucracy surrounding these incentives is less cumbersome, ensuring a smooth process for Portuguese consumers.

France’s focus on European manufacturers

In contrast, France has crafted its electric vehicle policy to support European manufacturers over Chinese ones.

Stricter standards regarding CO2 emissions during manufacturing favour vehicles produced within Europe.

Approximately 65 per cent of the French market is eligible for government incentives, including an eco-friendly bonus ranging from €5,000 to €7,000 for electric cars priced below €47,000.

Additionally, a financial support programme for low-income households opting for electric vehicle rentals was introduced in early 2024, offering subsidies of €100 to €150 per month for three years.

Norway’s electric car success

Norway stands as a remarkable success story in the electric car sector, with over 80 per cent of its vehicles being electric, and Tesla capturing a significant market share.

Norway’s generous tax support, exempting buyers from VAT and registration and environmental taxes, drove this adoption.

However, the government is now grappling with a substantial loss of tax revenue, prompting the introduction of a weight tax for electric car owners to recover some of the funds.

Challenges for Spain’s electric car market

The Spanish electric car market is at a crossroads, lagging behind its European counterparts. To boost electric vehicle adoption and meet EU emissions targets, Spain must consider implementing new fiscal measures.

Such measures would include revamping existing programmes like Moves III, and focusing on rejuvenating the country’s vehicle fleet.

While Spain may be trailing in electric car adoption compared to its European peers like Portugal and France, there are valuable lessons to be learned from their successful approaches.

With ambitious EU targets and environmental concerns driving the shift towards electric vehicles, many experts maintain that Spain must rethink its strategy and incentivise citizens to embrace a greener future on the road.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Brian

      16 January 2024 • 13:56

      Who can blame those of us who live in Spain (or any other country in the world!) for refusing to buy an EV? The only “clean” thing about them is the lack of exhaust fumes! The batteries which have been exchanged cannot be recycled and their manufacture using metals, in many cases mined by almost slave labour cannot be considered “clean”! We live off-grid like many others so couldn’t guarantee to be able to charge those batteries if the weather is cloudy without using a generator which would be powered by petrol or diesel!

      • Stephen

        16 January 2024 • 17:59

        In my view Spain has not made the transition easy or an incentive. The role out of Public EV chargers is in adequate, patchy and often low charge. Home Chargers are quick to install but applying for the grant is complicated and can take 6 months or more to receive. Replying to Brians comments, while his comments are true in respect to earlier electric cars; I believe that maufactures are changing to different types of battery that do not use or use less metal and are not mined using slave labour. Batteries can also be repaired if a (cell) fails. Most batteries will last well over 100,000 kilometres. Dependant on how far your home is from the nearest public charger, it is feasible to make a trip to the nearest charger, charge the car on a rapid or ultra rapid charger, taking between 25 to 45 minutes, once a week or less, as the average electric car has a range of over 200 kilometres. I have seen it quoted that the average driver does about 200 to 300 kilometres per week. This would then make it possible to charge once or twice a week at a public charger. Much easier and cheaper if it is possible to charge at home.

    • mac

      17 January 2024 • 05:39

      There is doubt about these EVs are a scam, Brian got it 100€ correct, Steven got it totally wrong. Big businesses do a lot of work before a product comes onto the market to ensure they will succeed in their endevour to sell a product. Big government without discussing the matter publicly or asking the public they just decide this must be done by this date and expect it to be done. Well it is not happening, so many lies and half truths told about the EV vehicles by governments no wonder they are not selling. You genuinely have to be either mad or rich to buy one of these EVs, they have no shelf life worth considering. Lets wait a few more years and see what advances in technology is made to make them a contender but at present they are a total con and every one knows it accept corrupt governments who are pushing this nonsense.

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