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Sales of electric vehicles in Europe double: Research

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Europe will soon have over 500,000 electric vehicles on its roads, according to a new report from non-governmental organization Transport & Environment (T&E).

According to the report, European sales of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) doubled in 2015, hitting 145,000, "the biggest sales increase for any year to date."

If Norway and other non-EU countries are included, Europe represents the world's second largest market for totally electric cars after China, T&E added.

"The electromobility revolution is underway and Europe is well placed to take a leading position," Julia Hildermeier, electromobility officer at T&E, said in a news release.

"To fully grab this chance, Europe needs four important boosts from regulators," Hildermeier added.

"Ambitious European CO2 limits for new cars in 2025 including a specific target for EV sales to stimulate competition amongst carmakers; to accelerate the roll-out of EV charging infrastructure across Europe; to ban dirty diesels from cities; and tax breaks for battery electric vehicles."

T&E stated that in 2016, year to date sales pointed to "significantly more than 200,000 plug-in vehicles" being sold. This would push the number of EVs on Europe's road to over 500,000.

The potential of electric and hybrid vehicles is significant in terms of both energy security and the environment. The U.S. Department of Energy has said that if hybrid or electric vehicles completely replaced light-duty conventional ones, U.S. dependence on foreign oil could fall by between 30-60 percent. Plus, carbon pollution from the transport sector could fall by up to 20 percent.