In 2020, the European Union (EU) exported close to 5.2 million cars (petrol, diesel, electric and hybrid electric cars), while 3.0 million cars were imported.
Petrol cars accounted for the majority of exported cars (64% of extra-EU car exports), followed by diesel cars (22%) and electric & hybrid electric cars (14%). In terms of imports, petrol cars accounted for over a half of extra-EU car imports (53%), followed by electric and hybrid electric cars (30%) and diesel cars (18%).
When looking at the 725 thousand exported electric cars and hybrid electric cars in detail: almost half of them were non-plug-in hybrid (49%), while around a quarter each were electric (27%) or plug-in hybrid (24%). Out of 892 thousand imported electric and hybrid electric cars, a half were non-plug-in hybrid (50%), a third were electric (34%) and plug-in hybrid accounted for the remaining share (16%).
Recent trends in car trade in the spotlight
Despite the general decrease in trade following the restrictive measures taken in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the EU’s exports and imports of electric and hybrid electric cars continued to gradually increase. Compared with 2017, extra-EU exports of electric and hybrid electric cars recorded almost a fivefold increase from 150 thousand exported cars in 2017 to 725 thousand in 2020, while extra-EU imports almost tripled from 301 thousand imported cars in 2017 to 892 thousand in 2020.
In 2020, the main destinations for EU exports of electric and hybrid electric cars was the United Kingdom (accounting for 39% of exported cars), followed by the United States (16%), Norway (10%) and China (9%).
Almost half of electric and hybrid electric car imports came to the EU from Japan and the United States (each accounting for 23% of imported cars), followed by South Korea (15%), the United Kingdom (14%), Turkey (10%) and China (9%).
- Overview of statistics on international trade in goods
- Database of statistics on international trade in goods
- The United Kingdom is considered as an extra-EU partner country for the EU for the whole period covered by this article. However, the United Kingdom was still part of the internal market until the end of the transitory period (31 December 2020), meaning that data on trade with the United Kingdom were still based on statistical concepts applicable to trade between the EU Member States. Consequently, while imports from any other extra-EU trade partner are grouped by country of origin, the United Kingdom data reflect the country of consignment. In practice this means that the goods imported by the EU from the United Kingdom were physically transported from the United Kingdom but part of these goods could have been of other origin than the United Kingdom. For this reason, data on trade with the United Kingdom are not fully comparable with data on trade with other extra-EU trade partners.