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Car ownership in Belgium drops for first time since Second World War
The "car is king" culture, so prevalent in Belgium, especially from the 1950s, leading for example to the construction of Brussels’ tunnels to facilitate access to Expo 58, may be coming to an end.
This year, for the first time since the second world war, the number of private cars has dropped, according to Statbel - Belgium’s statistical office.
On 1 August 2020, 5,888,589 cars were recorded in Belgium, compared to 5,889,2010 in 2019. “This is a slight but notable drop of 0.01%, given that the number of private cars rose around 1.27% per year in the last 10 years,” said Statbel, noting that the coronavirus pandemic has certainly influenced these figures.
Environmentalists will also welcome news that cars running on diesel are increasingly less popular than their petrol-driven counterparts. Diesel car ownership dropped by 6.3% to 2,815,755 in August 2020, compared to the 2019 level.
Petrol car use is on the up too (by 5%) this year, to 2,834,903 vehicles. This category now makes up 48.3% of cars for Belgians’ personal use, very slightly more than the 47.8% for diesel.
Hybrid vehicles continue to be much less common. They number 154,807 in Belgium – only 2.6% of the country’s total car volume. But take-up of these cars has risen sharply in the last five years – with five times as many on Belgian roads in 2020 than in 2015.
The increase in electric car use is most marked of all – up a massive 56.4% in 2020, compared to 2019. But these vehicles, seen as more environmentally friendly and increasingly promoted by the car industry as an answer to mobility problems, make up a mere 0.4% of Belgian automobiles today – with only 23,983 in circulation.
The market for gas-driven cars is the smallest of all. There are just 14,957 (a very slight 0.2% increase over the 2019 figure).
Personal cars aside, Belgium sports 16,422 buses and coaches; 910,356 utility vehicles to transport merchandise; 52,802 tractors; 196,504 agricultural tractors; and, 78,469 “special” vehicles (for example ambulances or motorhomes). Belgium’s total vehicle fleet number is 7,143,142 – and the country is also home to 507,996 motorcycles.