The number of electric vehicles on the road could rise to 230 million if governments accelerate efforts to reach certain climate goals, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.
The Global EV Outlook report found that, based on current trends and policies, the number of electric cars, vans, heavy trucks and buses on the road worldwide could reach 145 million by 2030.
However, that figure could rise to 230 million with government intervention, according to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.
The report added that despite the global economy shrinking by 6% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, the electric car market bucked the wider trend with growth of over 40%. In addition, a record 3 million new electric cars were registered in 2020, a 41% increase from the previous year.
The growth of the electric car market continued into this year also, with sales in the first quarter of 2021 reaching nearly two and half times their level in the same period a year earlier.
Last year’s increase brought the number of electric cars on the world’s roads to more than 10 million, with another roughly 1 million electric vans, heavy trucks and buses. For the first time last year, Europe overtook China as the centre of the global electric car market. Electric car registrations in Europe more than doubled to 1.4 million, while in China they increased 9% to 1.2 million.
Consumer spending on electric cars increased another 50% last year to reach USD 120 billion. At the same time, government support measures stood at USD 14 billion, the fifth year in a row in which they have fallen as a share of total spending. The report claims that even if government subsidies remain important for spurring the uptake of electric vehicles, this suggests sales are increasingly being driven more by consumer choice.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, commented: “While they can’t do the job alone, electric vehicles have an indispensable role to play in reaching net-zero emissions worldwide.
“Current sales trends are very encouraging, but our shared climate and energy goals call for even faster market uptake. Governments should now be doing the essential groundwork to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by using economic recovery packages to invest in battery manufacturing and the development of widespread and reliable charging infrastructure.”
Automakers offered 370 electric car models in 2020, a 40% year-on-year increase. Eighteen of the 20 largest automakers have announced intentions to further increase the number of available models and boost production of electric light-duty vehicles. These automakers account for 90% of all global auto sales.
Electric bus and truck registrations also expanded in major markets, reaching global stocks of 600,000 and 31,000 respectively. However, the report adds that more needs to be done for the adoption of electric medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles.
It stated: “Governments will also need to put in place policies to promote the roll-out of zero-emission vehicles in the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle segments and the correponding fast-charging infrastructure.”
The report also stated that there will be 140 million home chargers installed by 2030, along with 50 million workplace chargers. The scenario for publicly accessible chargers is a prediction of 14 million slow public chargers and 2.3 million public fast chargers by 2030.
According to the report, electric vehicles could also remove the need for more than 2 million barrels of petrol and diesel a day by 2030, whilst also saving the equivalent of 120 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. With government intervention, this figure could also rise to a saving of 3.5 million barrels of oil per day.
The report added: “In order for electric vehicles to attain their full potential to mitigate carbon emissions, critical progress is required to decarbonise electricity generation, to integrate electric vehicles in power systems, to build charging infrastructure and to advance sustainable battery manufacturing and their recycling.”