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Sales of electric cars in Europe overtook diesel models for the first time in December, according to preliminary estimates, as drivers continue to choose subsidized zero-emissions vehicles over those reliant on fuel that has been tarnished by scandal of Volkswagen’s emissions in 2015.

More than a fifth of new cars sold in 18 European markets, including the UK, were powered exclusively by batteries, according to data compiled for the Financial Times by independent car analyst Matthias Schmidt, while diesel cars, including diesel hybrids, accounted for less than 19% of sales.

Thanks to generous government subsidies in Germany and elsewhere, as well as strict regulations introduced in 2020 that force European manufacturers to sell more low-emission vehicles, electricity sales have steadily increased.

The trend accelerated in the final quarter of last year, as Tesla proved more adept than its competitors at adapting to semiconductor supply chain bottlenecks by delivering record numbers. of 309,000 electric cars.

European carmakers also pushed electric vehicle sales in December to reduce their fleet-wide carbon footprint and avoid fines from Brussels, after prioritizing production of the most profitable models – mostly SUVs. highly polluting – during the supply chain crisis.

As a result, 176,000 battery electric vehicles were sold in Western Europe this month – an all-time high – and more than 6% more than the number sold in December 2020. By comparison, almost 160,000 diesels were sold last month. of 2021.

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