Global electric car sales’ ‘explosive growth’ – in numbers

The share of EVs in total car sales globally jumped from 9% in 2021 to 14% in 2022, more than 10 times their share in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency’s new EV report, released today.

The IEA’s “Global EV Outlook 2023” reports that electric car sales grew, despite a shrinking global car market. Electric car sales – that’s battery electric and plug-in hybrids – exceeded 10 million in 2022, up 55% compared to 2021.

The IEA’s report states in the “Trends in electric light-duty vehicles” section:

In the course of just five years, from 2017 to 2022, EV sales jumped from around 1 million to more than 10 million. It previously took five years from 2012 to 2017 for EV sales to grow from 100,000 to 1 million, underscoring the exponential nature of EV sales growth. 

An IEA chart shows how electric car growth has looked globally since 2010:

Based on projections, the IEA reports that globally, electric car sales are expected to grow by another 35% this year, compared to last year, to 14 million – more than 2.3 million have already sold in the first quarter. This rapid growth means electric cars’ percentage share of the overall car market is expected to climb to 18% in 2023.

The overwhelming majority of electric car sales to date are in China – 60% of global electric car sales took place there in 2022. Today, more than half of all electric cars on the road are in China.

Europe and the US are the second- and third-largest markets. Both saw strong growth, with sales increasing 15% and 55%, respectively, in 2022. 

In the US, more than 320,000 electric cars were sold in the first quarter of 2023, 60% more than over Q1 2022. The IEA expects that growth in the US to continue this year, with electric car sales reaching over 1.5 million in 2023, so that would grow US electric car sales to around 12% this year.

Thanks to recent ambitious EU and US government policy programs – Europe’s Fit for 55 package and the US’s Inflation Reduction Act, to include the new proposed EPA emissions rule – the average share of electric cars in total sales across China, the EU, and the US is set to grow to around 60% in 2030.

The IEA projects for China:

Our current expectation is for electric car sales in China to be more than 30% higher than in 2022 and reach around 8 million by the end of 2023, reaching a sales share of over 35% (from 29% in 2022).

Being that China, the EU, and the US are the world’s largest polluters, this growth in EVs is good news.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol explained how “a historic transformation of the car manufacturing industry worldwide” is going to affect the global oil industry:

The trends we are witnessing have significant implications for global oil demand. The internal combustion engine has gone unrivalled for over a century, but electric vehicles are changing the status quo. By 2030, they will avoid the need for at least 5 million barrels a day of oil.

Read more: Renewables will be the largest source of electricity by early 2025

Graph: IEA. Licence: CC BY 4.0; Photo: Tesla

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