BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Electric vehicles made up 8% of car sales in Europe in the first half of 2020, putting them on track to triple their market share this year, according to analysis by the NGO Transport & Environment (T&E).

FILE PHOTO: A battery charger sign for electric cars is painted on the ground of a parking ground near the soccer stadium in Wolfsburg, Germany, April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

While the novel coronavirus pandemic has seen overall car sales plummet, sales of electric cars – which T&E defined as both battery and plug-in hybrid models – have increased.

This saw electric cars more than triple their market share in the European Economic Area (EEA), compared with the first half of last year, T&E said.

Outright sales of such vehicles are expected to roughly double this year, to one million units, it said.

T&E attributed the sales increase to tougher European Union car emissions standards, which took effect this year, and post-pandemic purchase incentives in Germany and France.

The NGO expects carmakers to meet the 2020 emissions standards, which would see electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles triple their market share in 2020 to 10% of EEA car sales.

“It is because of the EU emissions standards, but it is also thanks to many investments carmakers made last year,” report co-author Julia Poliscanova said.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said electric vehicle sales have been boosted by national support schemes to foster economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic but that this trend was not necessarily a long-term one.

“It is difficult to make any predictions on future long-term shifts in consumer behaviour from such ‘artificial’ growth driven by subsidies,” ACEA said.

T&E urged the EU to set tougher future emissions targets to ensure electric vehicles keep edging out polluting models.

Federal investigators say a Coppell man fraudulently applied for dozens of federal stimulus PPP grants and received more than $17 million that he spent buying real estate and luxury cars such as a Bentley and a Corvette.

A coalition of federal agencies charged Dinesh Sah, 55, of Coppell, with applying for $24.8 million in PPP loans for 15 businesses that claimed to have more than 500 employees, but in fact, many of the businesses were registered after the CARES Act was passed and did not have any employees, according to court documents detailing the indictment.

“Mr. Sah exploited this terrible pandemic for personal gain – and he should be held accountable to the American people for that behavior,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox in a statement. “COVID-19 has devastated the finances of hardworking business owners across the nation. PPP funds should be reserved for those who really need them to keep their companies afloat.”

Sah was arrested Sept. 16 and remains in custody, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Texas.

Sah is one of dozens indicted by government prosecutors for fraudulently applying for forgivable loans through the Payroll Protection Program, the $650 billion slice of the CARES Act designed to help small businesses cover costs for wages, rent and utilities. Among those charged with fraud were a former NFL football player and a former reality television star.

The Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program provided forgivable loans to North Texas restaurants, churches, hotels, nonprofits and many other groups to help them weather the economic fallout of COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 5.2 million loans were approved nationwide. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Texas businesses were approved for more than $41 billion in grants that were intended to go to businesses with 500 employees or fewer.

The indictment said Sah actually received $17.3 million and used the money on multiple homes, international transfers and a 2020 Bentley convertible, a luxury car that typically sells

Dimitris Psillakis

Mercedes-Benz USA Announces Dimitris Psillakis as Head of Marketing and Sales, Mercedes-Benz Cars North America and CEO of MBUSA
Mercedes-Benz USA Announces Dimitris Psillakis as Head of Marketing and Sales, Mercedes-Benz Cars North America and CEO of MBUSA
Mercedes-Benz USA Announces Dimitris Psillakis as Head of Marketing and Sales, Mercedes-Benz Cars North America and CEO of MBUSA

ATLANTA, Oct. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Daimler Board of Management has appointed Dimitris Psillakis (53) as Head of Marketing and Sales, Mercedes-Benz Cars North America and CEO of MBUSA, effective January 1, 2021. The announcement was made by Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing and Sales, to whom Psillakis will report. Psillakis, who was appointed as the President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada, succeeds Nicholas Speeks, who after more than 40 years will leave the company and pursue opportunities outside of Daimler. Psillakis will be based in Atlanta, GA.

“Dimitris is a proven leader who successfully expanded the growth of Mercedes-Benz in key markets around the world,” said Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Marketing and Sales. “I am confident Dimitris will continue to advance our North American operations during this time of unprecedented transformation. I would also like to thank Nick Speeks for his outstanding commitment and engagement around the globe over the past decades, and wish him all the best for the future.”

In his new role, Psillakis will assume overall responsibility for Mercedes-Benz Cars in the United States and Canada. He will lead MBUSA’s more than 1,600 employees and more than 380 dealer partners throughout the U.S. as well as an additional 1,200 employees and almost 60 authorized dealers throughout Canada. Psillakis will continue as President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada for the remainder of the year. A successor to his current role as