Skyrocketing sales of electric cars
These are paradoxical times for the automobile industry, and car sales in Portugal reflect precisely that. Since the start of the pandemic, the market has nosedived and shows no signs of picking up. According to statistics compiled by ACAP (Associação Automóvel de Portugal – Portuguese Automobile Association), 14,526 cars were registered during April, a year-on-year drop of 19.9%, and 41.4% fewer registrations than in April of 2019. This negative trend has been holding still throughout the quarter, from January to April. A total of 56,992 new vehicles hit the road, which was 0.7% fewer than in 2021 and 39.6% lower than the pre-pandemic figure.
These numbers are very worrying for those in the sector, but in fact there are other statistics which seem to indicate a paradigm shift, namely the fact that sales of electric vehicles are soaring. 4,707 new cars were sold between January and April, 88.1% more than in 2021 — a growth rate which confirms the pattern of the last few years. In 2021 sales of 100% electric cars had already been 69% higher than in 2020, before the pandemic.
But the market in more sustainable automobiles is not kept afloat by electric vehicles alone. The supply of vehicles powered by alternative energies keeps growing, and the Portuguese are very much aware of this, and are particularly interested in hybrids. All in all, the increase in light passenger vehicles powered by other kinds of energy rather than the internal combustion engine – including plug-in hybrids, LNG/petrol and CNG hybrids – was 39% in the first quarter.
All signs point towards this trend continuing over the next few years, not only because drivers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware, but also because the range of vehicles available is constantly improving (there are growing numbers of more advanced models on the market), charging networks are expanding, more individual support is now being given for purchasing new electric vehicles and, of course, the cherry on the cake is rising fuel prices, which have reached record highs.