The ultimate guide

In this guide, we’ll serve you all the latest facts, figures, and forecasts you need to know about the EV market and its predicted growth 👇

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.

1. Historical data of the global EV market

In 2019, the number of light electric vehicles globally was only 9 % higher than in 2018. This was a clear deviation from the growth rates of the previous 6 years, which were between 46% and 69%.

The reasons for this shift were due to the decrease in sales in the second half of 2019 in the two largest markets, China and the USA. But even with the stagnant growth in the two largest markets, global EV sales still grew, largely in part to Europe, which saw 44% growth.

The year 2020 did not show a big growth in overall new car registrations. The global market for all types of cars was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that followed.

The outlook for 2020 global EV sales was quite unpredictable at the beginning of the year amid COVID-19. However, as time showed, the year 2020 turned out to be surprisingly positive despite the pandemic and its effects. The global EV sales grew by 41% from 2019 and the global electric car sales share rose to a record 4,6% in 2020.

The industry geared up to meet the 95 gCO2/km targets for 2020/2021. EVs have a big importance in meeting this target, which can be a reason attributed to the rise in EV sales in 2020, despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the overall downturn of the automotive sector. The next target suggests a 15% fall in tailpipe emissions by 2025.

While the direction is right, we still have a long road ahead until we can declare electrification a reality.

The development of the global light electric vehicle market and the year-over-year growth over the past 10 years can be viewed below.Natalies charts-08

Source: EV Volumes 


2. Global electric car market size

The year 2020 was a significant year for electric vehicles. According to the Global EV Outlook 2021, global electric car stock reached 10 million units, 41% higher than in 2019.

Natalies charts-02 

Source: Global EV Outlook 2021

Europe witnessed the highest share of new electric car registrations in 2020 with 1.4 million registrations, followed by China (1.2 million) and the United States (295 000). The increase in electric car registrations in Europe, where the number more than doubled from 2019, can be attributed to stimulus measures introduced by many European governments.


Natalies charts-01Source: Global EV Outlook 2021

When we look at Europe’s biggest markets, Germany registered 295 000 new electric vehicles, while the United Kingdom doubled registrations and reached 176 000 electric cars.

The leading countries with the biggest EV sales share are Norway with a record 75%, followed by 50% in Iceland and 30% in Sweden.

Natalies charts-04Source: Global EV Outlook 2021

Overall, the global development of EV sales and sales share can be conveniently viewed in the graph below.

Natalies charts-05

Source: Global EV Outlook 2021


3. The state of other electric vehicles

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.

An interesting EV trend in 2020 relates to public transportation and the sharing economy. Electric micromobility options have expanded rapidly since their emergence in 2017. Thanks to various measures taken to promote mobility, electric micromobility accelerated during 2020, specifically so in the second half of the year. In the Unites States, the sales of electric-assists bicycles (e-bikes) more than doubled in 2020. At the same time, Europe is witnessing great popularity of electric scooters (e-scooters). According to the Global EV Outlook 2021, more than 100 European cities started operating e-scooters since July 2020.

The biggest concentration of privately owned electric two/three wheelers is in Asia, specifically in China, accounting for 99% of registrations. Globally, there is currently around 290 million two/three wheelers. The market is also growing in Europe, rising by 30% in 2020.

When it comes to heavy-duty trucks (HDT), manufacturers are showing their commitment to electrification of mobility. Many truck manufacturers strive for an all-electric future. HDT registrations were up 10% in 2020 globally.

Electric buses also witnessed an increase in popularity in 2020. The global stock of electric buses in 2020 was 600 000. China registered 78 000 new electric buses in the past year, holding down their market domination. In addition to China, one of the global leaders in electric bus fleets is Chile, aiming to electrify all of its public transport by 2040. In European Union countries, the Clean Vehicles Directive also provides a public procurement of electric buses.


4. The state of EV charging

In 2020, there were about 1.3 million publicly accessible chargers worldwide, 30% of which are fast chargers. The most charging still happens at home or at work, but the more electric vehicles roaming the roads, the more public charging points will be needed in the future.

In Europe, fast chargers are becoming highly popular. In 2020, there were more than 38 000 public fast chargers, up by 55% from 2019. Fast chargers enable longer journeys and might be a reason for those without private charging access to buy an electric vehicle.

The installations of slow chargers have also increased in 2020. In China, for example, by 65% to about 500 000 publicly available slow chargers. Europe is in the second place with 250 000 slow chargers, followed by the United States, where the installations in 2020 increased by 28% to a total of 82 000 slow chargers.

Another 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.

Lastly, you can't mention EV charging trends without acknowledging vehicle-to-grid (V2G). V2G technology enables electricity to be returned to the grid from car batteries, the same way stationary storages are connected to the grid. V2G services are already commercially available and several charger manufacturers are able to supply V2G chargers.

The V2G market is projected to grow to over $ 5 billion between  2020-2024. The European standard for V2G charging will be ready in late 2020. Virta has been recognised as one of the global leaders in V2G technology.  You can learn more about bi-directional charging and our V2G solution by reading this quick guide.   

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5. The development of electric vehicle & charging technology

Another interesting perspective relates to the development of new EV parts and charging technologies.

The increase in electric car registrations resulted in an increased production of automotive lithium-ion batteries, which was up by 33% from 2019. China remains the leading country for battery production accounting for over 70% of global production capacity. However, Europe is not staying behind. Many new battery plant constructions were announced in 2020, since the battery demand exceeded Europe’s production capacity in the past year.

According to BloombergNEF, Europe’s share of global battery production could rise to 31% by 2030. In comparison, the continent’s global battery production was only 7% in 2020.

Variety of developments in battery characteristics, driven by a high demand for batteries in consumer electronics will provide multiple benefits to the EV business. 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.

Several EV manufacturing plants are planning to expand their EV production capacity because 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.


6. The environmental impact of EVs

Altogether EVs consumed approximately 80 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2020, a large proportion of which can be attributed to two-wheelers in China. Only about 1% of the total electricity consumption globally accounts to electric vehicles.

During the year 2020, more than 50 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent of GHC emissions were saved by use of EVs, globally. In practice, all emissions from EVs are born as a result of the manufacturing process, whereas a similar logic can’t be applied to internal combustion engine (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 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 2040s, electric vehicles will add up to over 30 TWh of installed battery storage capacity. For utilities, this means that EVs offer cheap energy storage, win no capital cost and relatively low operating costs.


7. The current EV-related policies

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.

Natalies charts-06

Source: Global EV Outlook 2021

Judging from the table, it should be only a matter of time until the rest of the developed world catches up.


8. The private sector’s response to EVs

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.

On the other hand, utilities and power companies are currently increasing their investment in EV charging infrastructure.

On the fleet side, DHL has made an ambitious pledge to reach 70% clean operations of last-mile pick-ups and deliveries by 2025. And DB Schenker wants to make its transport activities in European cities emission-free by 2030.

And while actions like these are worthy of attention on their own, their fringe benefit is of course that they act as signalling 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 have.


9. Forecasts: EV market outlook by 2030

When it comes to the future, according to the EV Market Outlook 2021, there are two possible scenarios:

  1. The Stated Policies Scenario suggests that by 2030, the global electric vehicle stock (excluding two/three-wheelers) will reach nearly 145 million vehicles and will account for 7% of the global vehicle fleet.
  2. 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 Stated 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.