Czechia No1 in EU for diesel car sales – and second to last for electric vehicles

In the first half of this year, diesel vehicles made up a larger proportion of new cars sold in Czechia than in any other EU country. While in the rest of the EU, sales of diesel cars have been steeply declining over the past few years, in Czechia the proportion has steadfastly remained at around one-quarter since 2019.

Across the EU, the share of new cars sold so far this year that were diesel was only 14.52 percent, down from 44.4 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, in Czechia that proportion has remained relatively unchanged over the same period, declining slightly from 37.69 percent and hovering around 25 percent since 2019.

So why are diesel cars so comparatively popular in Czechia? Some car owners, like Oldřich Růžička, see clear advantages.

“With my old petrol cars, I always had problems with the spark plugs and cables. Since I’ve had a diesel car, that doesn’t happen and I wouldn’t want any other type of car. It has better acceleration and a bigger range.”

Illustrative photo: ResoneTIC,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

But petrol cars are still the most popular type of car in Czechia, making up 66.17 percent of new cars registered so far this year, so car owner preference for diesel over petrol can’t be the whole story. Lukáš Kadula from the Transport Research Centre sees the underlying cause elsewhere – in the reluctance of Czech firms to invest in electric cars for their company fleets.

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of resistance to electric cars here in Czechia, and as a result, we have the highest proportion of diesel car ownership out of any EU country. New cars are most often bought by companies. The most popular company car is the Škoda Octavia, and that runs on diesel.”

Interestingly, across the EU as a whole, the majority of new diesel cars are sold to companies – it’s just that in other EU countries, a much smaller percentage of new cars sold overall are diesel. In the Netherlands, for example, diesel cars only made up 1 percent of sales in the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, interest in electric cars is steadily increasing in the rest of the EU. In 2022, battery-powered electric cars made up 12.1 percent of car sales in the EU (a year-on-year increase of 28 percent), and in the first half of this year that rose to 12.94 percent. Hybrid electric cars are even more popular, making up 24.93 percent of new car sales across the EU.

Illustrative photo: Menno de Jong,  Pixabay,  Pixabay License

In their analysis, the Transport Research Centre says that if the trend from the last few years continues of sales of electric vehicles increasing and sales of diesel cars declining, then it is possible that there will be around the same number of new BEVs registered as new diesel cars in the EU this year.

In Czechia, however, only 2.69 percent of new cars sold so far this year were electric – about one in every 40. For the same period in Sweden, Finland and Denmark, it was closer to one in three. This low uptake of electric cars makes Czechia second-to-last in the EU. Only Slovakia had a lower percentage, with 2.39 percent.

So why the resistance to electric cars? Oft-cited reasons are the high price tag, with salaries in Czechia not as high as in Western Europe, and the small range of BEVs and the lack of infrastructure for charging them, making it difficult to use them for longer journeys.

The Transport Ministry says it is on the case, however. The Transport Research Centre’s report cites Jan Bezděkovský, the Transport Ministry Commissioner for Clean Mobility, who says that the ministry is aware of the need to intensify the construction of ultra-fast charging stations, especially on the highway network. To this end, it plans to invest a total of 6 billion crowns in infrastructure for electric cars over the coming years.

Authors: Anna Fodor , Daniel Zach | Sources: Český rozhlas Plus , Centrum dopravního výzkumu
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