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Europe's Surging EV Sales Are Oil's Next Challenge

  • Continent’s liquid-fuel demand expected to never fully recover
  • More plants to close as competitors, EVs eat into market share
Parade Of Electric Vehicles Launch SMMT Electrified 2021 Virtual Summit
Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

If a Covid-caused fuel-demand collapse hasn’t been bad enough for Europe’s oil refineries, they are now facing yet another jolt to profitability: a world-leading shift to electric vehicles.

The continent’s electric car purchases surged 142% to 1.4 million in 2020, surpassing China as the top buyer, according to the International Energy Agency. Even last year, when mobility tumbled because of the pandemic, EVs managed to erode oil refiners’ share of the continent’s road-fuel market.