The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, which represents major European car, truck, van and bus makers, said that battery electric and plug-in hybrid model sales across the European Union made up just under 19% of all sales.
Battery electric vehicle sales jumped nearly 57% to more than 212,000 units, while plug-in hybrid models rose nearly 43% to more than 197,000 units.
This is a slower pace of growth than in 2020 when sales almost trebled from a low base.
But it compares with a 35% drop in sales for petrol cars - which still are the biggest sellers and account for nearly 40% of overall sales - and a more than 50% drop for diesel cars during the quarter.
Less than a decade ago, diesel cars made up more than 50% of sale in the EU, but accounted for under 18% of all cars sold in the third quarter.
As well as having to meet stringent new EU carbon emissions targets, car makers and consumers have benefited from government subsidies for electric vehicles.
The European Commission has also proposed an effective ban on fossil-fuel vehicles from 2035, aiming to speed up the switch to zero-emission electric vehicles as part of a broad package of measures to combat global warming.
(Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Sandra Maler)
By Nick Carey