Sales of electric cars topped 2.1 million globally in 2019, surpassing 2018 – already a record year, to boost the stock to 7.2 million electric cars. Electric cars, which accounted for 2.6% of global car sales and about 1% of global car stock in 2019, registered a 40% year-on-year increase. As technological progress in the electrification of two/three-wheelers, buses, and trucks advances and the market for them grows, electric vehicles are expanding significantly. Ambitious policy announcements have been critical in stimulating the electric-vehicle rollout in major vehicle markets in recent years. In 2019, indications of a continuing shift from direct subsidies to policy approaches that rely more on regulatory and other structural measures – including zero-emission vehicles mandates and fuel economy standards – have set clear, long-term signals to the auto industry and consumers that support the transition in an economically sustainable manner for governments.
After entering commercial markets in the first half of the decade, electric car sales have soared. Only about 17 000 electric cars were on the world’s roads in 2010. By 2019, that number had swelled to 7.2 million, 47% of which were in The People’s Republic of China (“China”). Nine countries had more than 100 000 electric cars on the road. At least 20 countries reached market shares above 1%.2
The Covid-19 pandemic will affect global electric vehicle markets, although to a lesser extent than it will the overall passenger car market. Based on car sales data during January to April 2020, our current estimate is that the passenger car market will contract by 15% over the year relative to 2019, while electric sales for passenger and commercial light-duty vehicles will remain broadly at 2019 levels. Second waves of the pandemic and slower-than-expected economic recovery could lead to different outcomes, as well as to strategies for automakers to cope with regulatory standards. Overall, we estimate that electric car sales will account for about 3% of global car sales in 2020. This outlook is underpinned by supporting policies, particularly in China and Europe. Both markets have national and local subsidy schemes in place – China recently extended its subsidy scheme until 2022. China and Europe also recently strengthened and extended their New Energy Vehicle mandate and CO2 emissions standards, respectively. Finally, there are signals that recovery measures to tackle the Covid-19 crisis will continue to focus on vehicle efficiency in general and electrification in particular.
The infrastructure for electric-vehicle charging continues to expand. In 2019, there were about 7.3 million chargers worldwide, of which about 6.5 million were private, light-duty vehicle slow chargers in homes, multi-dwelling buildings and workplaces. Convenience, cost-effectiveness and a variety of support policies (such as preferential rates, equipment purchase incentives, and rebates) are the main drivers for the prevalence of private charging.
(Source: IEA – Image: Carbuyer)