Global electric car sales increased year-on-year by a record 41%, or 3 million last year while consumer spending saw a 50% growth rate to $120 billion, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday.
The record rise in electric car sales came despite the COVID-19 crisis during which the global auto industry suffered a major shock by contracting 16% last year compared to 2019, the IEA's Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021 report showed.
It said that sales of electric cars represented 4.6% of total global car sales last year.
With last year's increase, the number of electric cars on the roads worldwide reached over 10 million, with the addition of approximately 1 million electric vans, heavy trucks and buses.
The global electric vehicle (EV) fleet in 2020 consumed over 80 terawatt-hours of electricity, corresponding to the current electricity demand of Belgium. Electricity demand from EVs accounted for only about 1% of the world’s current total final electricity consumption, according to the IEA.
Europe, for the first time last year, overtook China to register 1.4 million cars on an annual basis to become the center of the global electric car market. As electric car registrations in Europe more than doubled last year, those in China increased 9% to 1.2 million. These figures compare favorably against the US, which only registered 295,000 electric cars in 2020.
China has still got the biggest car fleet, reaching 4.5 million last year while Europe's electric car fleet hit 3.2 million by the end of 2020.
- Indispensable for reaching net-zero goals
Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, asserted in the report that electric vehicles have an indispensable role to play in reaching net-zero emissions worldwide and urged governments to focus on expanding EV infrastructure.
"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," he said.
Consumer spending on electric cars increased by another 50% in 2020 to reach $120 billion while governmental support stood at $14 billion, showing a drop for the fifth consecutive year.
"Even if government subsidies remain important for spurring the uptake of electric vehicles, this suggests sales are increasingly being driven more by consumer choice," the report revealed.
The IEA showed that automakers offered 370 electric car models in 2020, marking 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 as these automakers account for 90% of all global auto sales.
The report said: "governments helped buffer electric cars from 2020’s downturn by extending existing policy and fiscal support, and augment them with stimulus measures in response to the Covid-19 crisis.”
- 140% rise in first-quarter of 2021
The strong growth in electric car sales continued during the first quarter of 2021. Sales rose by around 140% in the first three months of this year compared to the same period of 2020.
Around 500,00 sales in China and 450,00 sales in Europe contributed to this monumental rise, the IEA calculated.
The report said that based on current trends and policies, the number of electric cars, vans, heavy trucks and buses on the roads worldwide will see a major expansion and reach 145 million by 2030.
However, the IEA said the global fleet could reach 230 million if governments accelerate efforts to reach international climate and energy goals, as outlined in the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario.
It added that if governments around the world pull together to pursue the even more ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emission by 2050, the global electric car fleet would grow further.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya and Gulsen Cagatay