The ultimate guide


The global electric vehicle market share has taken a tremendous leap forward in the past decade, and we expect the trend to accelerate exponentially. Even though we’ve already seen some incredible growth in the number of EVs worldwide, electric car 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

To understand the current situation of the EV sector, let’s look at what happened in the past couple of years.

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 six 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 43% from 2019 and the global electric car industry market share rose to a record 4,6% in 2020.

The EV train is accelerating.

Carried by a decarbonisation challenge most leading nations now take seriously, 2021 is a game changer in the history of EV sales and it is expected that 6.4 million vehicles (EVs and PHEVs combined) will be sold globally by the end of the year. It would then represent a 98 % year over year increase.

Global plug-in-11

Source: EV Volumes 

EVs are to play a central role in the ambitious objective of zero emission targets set for 2050, and the industry is clearly gearing up for it.

Another encouraging indicator is how fast the EV car sales is growing. In Europe alone, EVs and PHEVs represented 14 % of the total car sales between January and June 2021 (versus 7 % in 2020 during the same period).

global electric car fleet-12

Sources: EV Volumes & Global EV Outlook 2021

Of course, while we’re heading in the right direction, the road to full electrification is still long — but it’s becoming a reality.

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2. Global electric car market share and size

The year 2020 was already a major leap forward in terms of electric vehicle sales. 2021 is a whole new story. The market is growing. It’s growing fast. And it’s growing everywhere.

BEV PHEV sales-10

Source: EV volumes

Looking at the first six months of the fiscal year (April to September), Europe (1.06 million new registrations) and China (1.149 million new registrations) are expected to account for the highest share of new electric car registrations in 2021, followed by the United States (297 000 new registrations).

The increase in electric car registrations in Europe, where numbers are accelerating a lot faster than elsewhere since 2019, can be attributed to stimulus measures introduced by many European governments.

new ev registrations-01

Source: EV volumes


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.

From public transportation to e-scooters: The entire transport industry is turning electric

An interesting EV trend in 2020 and beyond relates to public transportation and the sharing economy

Electric micro mobility options have expanded rapidly since their emergence in 2017. Thanks to various measures taken to promote mobility, electric micro mobility accelerated during 2020, specifically so in the second half of the year. In the Unites States alone, the sales of electric-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) more than doubled in 2020. At the same time, Europe is also witnessing the emergence of electric scooters (e-scooters). According to the Global EV Outlook 2021, more than 100 European cities started operating e-scooters.

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. Turning the existing fleet of HDT intro electric vehicles matters because if they only account for 10 % of ICE vehicles, the are responsible for 70 %, of ICE CO2 emissions.

Electric buses also grew in popularity since 2020. The global stock of electric buses in 2020 was 600 000. China alone 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 europe

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 2019, we counted 175 000 publicly available EV chargers. We expect to reach 1.3 million public EV chargers by 2025, and 2.9 million by 2030. 

Fast(er) charging is becoming a norm.

Fast(er) chargers make longer journeys a lot nicer and might be a reason for those without private charging access to buy an electric vehicle. They are the most efficient way to fight range anxiety (or how far can one go with an EV before having to stop and recharge).

In Europe, slow chargers are being replaced by rapid, fast, and ultra fast chargers.

State of EV charging blog post charts-04

In Europe, only Germany, France, the UK and Spain still count an important part of slow chargers. The other European countries are making their way into the world of EV by installing fast(er) 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 — among other things— greater convenience and control over electricity consumption.

Lastly, we can't mention EV charging trends without acknowledging vehicle-to-grid (V2G). V2G technology makes it possible to  transfer the electricity stored in electric vehicle batteries back to the grid, 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.

Want to learn more about V2G and smart charging?

Read our quick guide on bi-directional charging.
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If you're also interested in learning more about smart charging (including the definition, benefits, practical how-tos, and more), take a look at our comprehensive Smart Charging guide.


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 electric car 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.

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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 in 2020, when EVs already accounted for 4.6 % of the global vehicle fleet.

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.

Are electric vehicles (really) green?

We debunked a lot of the misinformation that’s currently circulating about EVs and what it takes to       produce them.

Read it here — Myth buster: Electric vehicles are not green.

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

The latest European agreements place Europe as a forerunner of the EV revolution and, judging from the table above, it should be only a matter of time until the rest of the 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 instance, 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.

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.

What about Europe?

The next couple of years will be crucial for Europe to secure its leading status. We expect to reach a first milestone of 14 million EVs by 2025. After that, low estimates mention 33 million EVs by 2030, when high estimates talk about 40 million EVs roaming around Europe at the same time.

State of EV charging blog post charts-08-1

From 2035 onwards, we expect that 100 % of new cars sold in Europe to be electric.

Of course, only time (and new data) will tell tell us if those predictions are to become realities. However, the latest trends seem to be heading in the right direction.

In other words, this means that the time for businesses to embark the EV train is now.

Read our comprehensive guide for businesses if you’re interested in learning more about EV charging and how to build your own EV charging activity.