China and Europe are driving most of the ownership, while North America is the third revenue generator by a wide margin.
The world is approaching another major milestone in electric vehicle ownership: BNEF estimates that 20 million plug-in vehicles will be on the road globally by June. This is a significant increase from just 1 million electric vehicles in 2016.
According to BNEF estimates, by the second half of 2022, nearly 1 million new electric vehicles will be added every month globally. This is about every 3 seconds.
Vehicles are eventually retired from fleets due to aging, wear and tear, accidents and battery degradation. But that’s not a big part of the Electric Vehicle story so far, mostly because the majority of Electric Vehicles in the global fleet have been sold in the past 18 months.
By the end of 2022, BNEF expects more than 26 million plug-in vehicles to be on the road.
Growth is much faster than many established players in the auto and oil industries expected a few years ago. For example, in BP’s 2016 forecast, the company expected 71 million plug-in vehicles to be on the road by 2035. Based on the latest sales figures, BNEF now expects that to be achieved by 2025, a full 10 years ahead of schedule.
A look at the geographic distribution of vehicles shows that only a few regions are driving the majority of ownership. To date, China has accounted for 46% of total sales, followed by Europe at 34%. North America is dragging its heels with 15 percent of ownership, but new policy support should boost the Electric Vehicle market this year and next. All other countries combined account for just 5% of the global Electric Vehicle fleet.
Most of the world’s plug-in cars are purely electric, but there are also 5.3 million plug-in hybrids. Most of them are in Europe. Plug-in hybrids have helped automakers meet Europe’s increasingly stringent targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.
BNEF expect the market to move away from plug-in hybrids in the coming years as governments cut subsidies for plug-in hybrids and automakers roll out their latest all-electric models.
Japan is the largest auto market after China, Europe and the United States, and the adoption of electric vehicles has been slow. That should change soon as Japanese automakers launch new battery-electric models in the popular mini “kei car” segment. Kei is short for keijidōsha, which means light vehicle, and accounts for one-third of national sales.
Nissan and Mitsubishi plan to launch electric kei models this year, followed by Honda in 2024 and Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu in 2025. In neighbouring South Korea, where Electric Vehicle penetration has been high, Electric Vehicles will have accounted for nearly 15 percent of sales in 2021, thanks largely to strong models from domestic champions Hyundai and Kia.
Attention will eventually shift to the world’s major emerging auto markets such as India, Brazil, Mexico and Southeast Asia. In these countries and regions, Electric Vehicle adoption is just beginning, but once the larger market begins to saturate, they are key to continued growth in Electric Vehicle adoption globally.
There are several encouraging signs. In the Indian tricycle market, more than 50% of sales are already electric. The acceptance of electric two-wheelers in Southeast Asian markets such as Vietnam has been relatively high. Parts of Latin America are leading the way in electric buses and are starting to focus on electric taxis.
Perhaps most importantly, the models on China’s Electric Vehicle market demonstrate the appeal of Electric Vehicles to lower- and middle-class consumers in emerging markets. The best-selling electric car in China so far this year is the Hongguang Mini, which retails for just $4,700.
Models like this, combined with Japanese automaker’s big push for electric vehicles and more electric motorcycles and scooters, will help the rest of the world make the leap to electric vehicles.
There are other benefits as well. The Hongguang Mini weighs just 560 kilograms (1,235 pounds), while the recently launched electric GMC Hummer weighs more than 4,000 kilograms and has a battery pack nearly 20 times the size. With the rising cost of battery raw materials, small electric vehicles look more like the sustainable mobility solution the world needs.
The adoption of electric vehicles will make significant progress in the coming years, but it’s worth considering the daunting task of changing the world’s fleets. BNEF estimates that there are 1.2 billion light passenger vehicles on the world’s roads. By the end of 2022, more than 2% of them will be electric. there’s still a long way to go. But momentum is building.
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