An electric vehicle (EV) revolution is under way in Germany, which is both Europe’s largest car manufacturer and largest car market.

Car manufacturers in the country produced 53,221 EVs in July 2021, or 21.7% of the total number of cars produced that month. That compares with 6.8% in March 2020 and 3.2% in January 2019.

The Volkswagen assembly plant in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. (Photo by Tobias Schwartz/AFP via Getty Images)

While overall car production in July was down 26% versus the same month in 2020, EV production was up 9%, shows data from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).

Globally, total car sales contracted by 14% in 2020 compared with the previous year, but EV sales increased from just over two million units to just over three million, shows data from the International Energy Agency. The share of EVs in the global car market grew from 2.5% to 4.4%. In Europe, EVs tripled their market share over the course of 2020, according to analysis from NGO Transport and Environment.

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Leading German car manufacturers have now largely set clear timelines to electrify their fleets, although some argue most plans remain inadequate for net zero. Volkswagen plans to sell 50% EVs by 2030 and nearly 100% by 2040, while Daimler, which owns the Mercedes-Benz marque, is planning to go all-electric by 2030 “where conditions allow”. BMW, meanwhile, expects fully electric vehicles to account for at least 50% of global deliveries by 2030, while its subsidiary Mini will become electric-only from 2030.

Policymakers, too, are planning for the end of the internal combustion engine. The list of countries planning combustion engine bans is growing: Norway’s phase-out will take place in 2025, followed by the UK in 2030, and the EU27 in 2035.

Some 830,000 people are directly employed by the car industry in Germany, shows data from the German Federal Bureau of Statistics. A recent study from Munich-based Ifo Institute warns that the systemic shift to EV production “will affect at least 178,000 employees”. The authors say the transition will be a “major challenge, especially for automotive suppliers, where medium-sized companies are dominant”.

Other studies have concluded that the transition to EVs will have a net positive impact on jobs, with new employment opportunities in transport and massive fuel savings across all sectors.