PARIS – Sales of electric vehicles in Europe are making little if any headway toward fulfilling their supporters’ optimistic forecasts.

According to U.K.-based Auto Industry Data, 11,563 electric passenger cars were registered throughout Western Europe in 2011, representing just 0.09% of the 12.8 million cars sold. AID did not compile figures for light-utility vehicles.

France alone accounted for 4,351 EV deliveries, but that figure includes light-utilities.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn and executives with General Motors’ Adam Opel subsidiary have predicted that EVs will have a 10% share of the European market eight years from now.

EV sales are being supported by government incentives in many countries. France, where EV buyers are eligible for €5,000 ($6,650) rebates, was the sales leader with 2,630 electric passenger-car deliveries, followed by Germany (2,154) and Norway (2,038).

PSA Peugeot Citroen’s European sales of 4,000 EVs in all segments gave the auto maker the No.1 ranking for 2011. But PSA likely will relinquish its sales crown this year to Renault, whose Kangoo ZE and Fluence ZE ranked first and fourth, respectively, in French deliveries.

Renault has won a government contract for more than 15,000 Kangoo ZE units to be delivered over four years, and this year it will introduce two purpose-built EVs: the Twizy, a scooter-like fore-and-aft 2-seater, and the Zoe, a Clio-sized compact car.

Four of last year’s five top-selling EVs in France are converted from conventionally powered cars. The Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero are rebadged versions of the Mitsubishi iMiev, and Renault’s Kangoo ZE and Fluence ZE simply have new powertrains.

However, the Bollore Bluecar is a purpose-built EV whose first customer is the Paris Autolib program, in which people can rent the cars by the hour.

Norway, home of the bankrupt Think Global EV maker, registered 2,038 electric vehicles for a market share of 1.5%, the highest of any European country. About half were Mitsubishi iMievs. Norway offers exemptions from several taxes and Oslo congestion charges to encourage sales.

Denmark EVs had the second-highest market share, at 0.2%. Like Israel, Denmark is working with Better Place, the California-Israeli service provider, and is encouraging EV sales with large tax breaks.

Western Europe electric passenger-car sales 2011

Country - EV sales

France - 2,630

Germany - 2,154

Norway - 2,038

United Kingdom - 1,082

Netherlands - 862

Austria - 631

Switzerland - 433

Denmark - 362

Spain - 319

Italy - 302

Belgium - 263

Portugal - 203

Sweden - 178

Ireland - 46

Luxembourg - 31

Finland - 29

Greece - 0

Total 11,563

Sources: Auto Industry Data, industry sources