The global electric vehicle market has taken a huge leap forward in the past decade. But even though we’ve already seen some incredible growth in the number of EVs worldwide, industry predictions would suggest that we’ve only just scratched the surface.
Let's start by looking at some historical data about the development of the global EV market.
Source: EV Volumes
As the graph above suggests, in the past 10 years we’ve seen a 46-69% year over year growth in the number of light electric vehicles globally.
While the direction is 100% right, it’s good to keep in mind that as of 2018, only 2.2% of the world’s passenger vehicles run on electricity. This would suggest that we still have a long road ahead until we can declare electrification a reality.
According to the Global EV Outlook 2019, the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1 million in 2018. That means a 2 million increase from 2017, nearly doubling EV sales in just one year.
In absolute terms, China remained the world’s largest EV market in 2018, with 2.3 million electric vehicles in active use. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly half (45%) of the global stock of EVs. Europe and the US are relatively far behind with 1.2 and 1.1 million EVs respectively.
But when it comes to relative terms, the situation in Europe is looking a lot more positive. While only 4% of China’s vehicles are electric, Norway is rapidly approaching the 50% mark with 46% of its new cars running on electricity in 2018.
Sadly, though, the runners up Iceland and Sweden have only reached 17% and 8% EV penetration, respectively.
Overall, the country by country development of EV sales and market share can be conveniently viewed in the graph below.
While passenger cars typically get all the credit for the EV revolution, it’s good to also consider the other forms of transportation that are gradually becoming greener.
For example, as of 2018, China has been home to 5 million low-speed electric vehicles.
Another interesting EV trend in 2019 relates to public transportation and the sharing economy. Of course, we’re talking about shared electric scooters, which already operated in 129 cities across Europe, US, Asia, Australia and New Zealand at the end of 2018.
In freight transportation, on the other hand, light-commercial EVs reached 250 000 units in 2018, which is naturally great news for the future of commercial trucking.
At the end of 2018, there were approximately 5.2 million chargers for light-duty EVs, of which closer to 540 000 were public charging stations. In other words, private home and workplace charging with type 1 and type 2 slow chargers continues to be the preferred mode of charging for the general public.
Fast chargers, on the other hand, are slowly increasing in popularity. In 2018, there were about 300 000 fast chargers in the world, 80% of which were in China. In Europe and the United States, a large majority of publicly accessible chargers that were installed in 2018 were slow chargers. However, this situation is likely to change soon, as several projects focused on ultra-fast charging have already been announced in Europe.
A third trend that’s steadily increasing in the EV space is the smart charging of electric vehicles, i.e. the use of cloud-connected charging devices. For business owners and consumers alike, smart EV charging allows greater convenience and control over electricity consumption.
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Another interesting perspective relates to the development of new EV parts and charging technologies.
For example, while recent developments in battery characteristics are driven by a high demand for batteries in consumer electronics, the EV business will undoubtedly benefit from this. For the EV market, further technological advances include:
- changes in battery chemistry
- changes in energy density
- changes in the size of battery packs
Ultimately, these changes will lead to massive cost reductions and increased production efficiency.
Speaking of efficiency, several manufacturing plants have released their plans of expanding their EV production capacity as a result of increased policy support. This is, of course, good news for the market at large, since it means that the supply of EVs will be able to catch up with the demand.
And if that wasn’t enough, we’re also working on some pretty exciting new stuff here at Virta. For example, our proprietary Plug&Charge feature allows our customers to identify themselves directly by connecting their vehicle to a charger. No pin codes, RFID tags, or credit cards necessary. Unfortunately, currently the only car supporting the Plug&Charge technology at the market is Smart.
Similarly, on the energy management side, we’re working on a vehicle-to-grid solution that allows charging point owners to return electricity back to the power grid through our bidirectional charging services. V2G solutions are already commercially available for energy utilities that can start using electric car batteries as energy reserves.
Altogether EVs consumed approximately 58 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2018, a large proportion of which can be attributed to two-wheelers in China. Overall, currently China accounts for 80% of the world electricity demand for EVs.
Fun fact: 58 terawatt-hours is somewhat comparable to the electricity demand of Switzerland in 2017.
During the year, EVs emitted 38 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent on a well-to-wheel basis. Compare that to the 78 million tonnes an equivalent ICE fleet would have emitted. In practice, all emissions from EVs are born as a result of the manufacturing process, whereas a similar logic can’t be applied to ICE cars. In the grand scheme of things, it seems safe to conclude that the public debate over EVs vs. ICE cars' environmental impact is slowly turning in the favor of EVs.
While it’s true that EVs increase electricity consumption, that can become the saving grace of energy utilities in the future. By the 2040’s, electric vehicles will add up to over 30 TWh of installed battery storage capacity. For utilities, this means that EVs offer cheap energy storage, with no capital cost and relatively low operating costs.
It’s no secret that governmental and local policies play a huge role in the adoption of EVs. Now, let’s look at some of the most effective EV-related policies from around the world.
Source: Global EV Outlook 2019
Judging from the table, it should be only a matter of time until the rest of the developed world catches up.
The private sector, and car manufacturers in particular, have primarily responded positively to the ongoing changes in the market. For example, Volkswagen has recently taken a strong stance towards electrifying the car market, and many Japanese, American, and European manufacturers are following suit.
And while actions like these are worthy of attention on their own, their fringe benefit is, of course, that they act as signaling devices for the rest of the market. In other words, it is public pledges like these that pressure competitors and stakeholders to act faster than they otherwise would.
When it comes to the future, according to the EV Market Outlook 2019, there are two possible scenarios:
- The New Policies Scenario which suggests that global EV sales will reach 23 million by 2030.
- The second — and more ambitious — scenario known as EV30@30 predicts that 30% of all vehicles except two-wheelers will be electric by 2030. In absolute terms that would mean that global sales would reach 43 million and therefore almost double the prediction of the New Policies Scenario.
While only time (and new data) will tell which of these predictions will be closer to the truth, if you’re interested in familiarizing yourself with more EV charging industry trends, you can download our free guide here.