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Most purchased cars in Europe and forecasts for 2023

10 January 2023

The latest statistics from ACEA show that in the first half of 2022, hybrid cars accounted for 1/3 of total sales, and in this respect have already surpassed diesel vehicles. Which car models and equipment are most convincing to potential buyers? 

The most popular car models in Europe

Despite the rapidly growing popularity of electric cars, as well as green modes of transportation, combustion-powered vehicles are still the most popular, accounting for half of all car sales on the old continent. In the first half of 2022, gasoline cars accounted for about 38.5% of the market, while diesel-powered ones accounted for just over 17%. In second place, however, hybrid cars, both classic and plug-in, appeared for the first time, which could be an interesting signal for the future. As for specific brands, Europeans were most likely to buy vehicles manufactured by the VW Group, with the Stellantis concern coming in second. The Volkswagen Golf, the Dacia Sandero and the Peugeot 208 were among the most popular passenger car models. As for the specific type of propulsion system, hybrid cars, which have very good reviews due to their high reliability, gained a lot in popularity. 

Hybrid car sales in 2022 

Classic hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) together generated as much as 31.3% of the European new car market turnover, meaning that they have already surpassed diesel cars, which have automatically dropped to third place. Much more popular among European buyers are now classic hybrids, largely because the operating principle of the HEV hybrid is based on the simple and practical principle of charging the electric motor while braking. In contrast, interest in plug-in hybrids charged from a socket is declining. According to ACEA, in the second quarter of 2022, the number of first registrations of this type of car decreased by 12.5% compared to the same period last year, amounting to 205,500 cars. The withdrawal of subsidies for the purchase of such vehicles and a ban on their production from 2035 due to insufficient energy efficiency are cited as main reasons for this situation. For example, so-called soft hybrids burn slightly less than traditionally powered cars, since in this case the electric motor only takes over the function of the starter or alternator and is not able to drive the car itself, as in HEVs. However, all indications are that the cars of the future will become completely zero-emission vehicles. 

Forecasts for car sales in 2023 

Despite the positive trend of a 7.9% increase in sales of all cars, as indicated by ACEA's simple comparison of September 2021 and 2022, the market remains stagnant, with total sales declining. This trend is especially noticeable when comparing results for individual models, where declines are as much as one-third compared to the period from January to September last year. The outlook for 2023 is not satisfactory either, due to high inflation. Experts at Bloomberg predict an overall 0.1% drop in economic efficiency in the Eurozone for next year, which will necessarily translate into all industries, including the automotive industry and its branches. Deciding whether it is worth buying a new car seems to be increasingly difficult at this point due to the economic situation. 

Which HEV equipment is chosen most often? 

Since one of the main motives of hybrid car buyers is to save money in the first place, they most often look at low combustion. One of the favorites in this category, for example, is the popular Lexus CT, which consumes 4.1 liters of gasoline per 100 km. Also receiving consistent attention is the Toyota Prius, which in its latest HEV version combines high engine power with optimum range. Since this type of hybrid is ideal for urban driving, it is expected to have a spacious interior, preferably finished with high-quality details made of durable plastics. Driving characteristics that allow smooth maneuvering in city traffic jams are also important. In this category, small, tall hybrid cars with optimal trunk capacity, such as the Toyota Yaris, among others, are quite popular. In conclusion, HEVs must give the highest economy with high driving comfort. 

Most popular cars vs. innovative materials 

Low combustion and high range of hybrid cars today are achieved not only by optimizing powertrains, but also by reducing the vehicles' own weight. Traditional components made of hard plastics and foams are gradually being replaced by optimized parts made of innovative EPP foamed polypropylene. The material, with a cellular structure consisting in 95% of air, combines minimal weight with optimal mechanical properties. It does not fall apart on impact, and thanks to its shape memory, it returns to its previous form. This makes it ideal for filling safe and comfortable bucket seats and car couches, as well as insulating elements. In this context, it can even affect the life of batteries in electric cars. As a raw material for battery casings, it protects the battery's sensitive cells from damage and extends the range of electric cars in winter. Such a wide range of applications for EPP foam makes it a very forward-looking material that not only contributes to interior quality and travel safety, but also to the design of cars of the future. 

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