Electronics and Semiconductors

Electric vehicle sales defy COVID-19 pandemic

16 June 2020
By 2030, more than 245 million electric vehicles are forecast to be on the road, more than 30 times what is on the road today. Source: Pixabay

A new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that electric vehicle (EV) sales are expected to broadly match the 2.1 million sold in 2019, accounting for a record 3% of total global car sales, despite COVID-19 closures.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused numerous automotive OEMs to suspend operations in the early months of the outbreak due to supply chain issues as well as to adhere to government social distancing mandates. As a result, EV sales were forecast to fall 18% in 2020 globally according to a recent report from BNEF.

Estimates from the IEA report suggest that these numbers are compared to the total global passenger car sales, which are expected to decline by 15% this year based on data from January to April 2020. As such, the IEA suggests that the number of EVs on the road will reach almost 10 million this year.

While second waves of the pandemic and slower-than-expected economic recovery could lead to different outcomes, government response to the pandemic and overall consumer attitudes will determine the overall market for EV sales in 2020 and beyond.

Surging sales

Over the past decade, except for 2019, global EV sales grew by at least 30%. In 2019, the market was impacted by 6% due to regulatory changes in China, the largest market for automotive sales in the world. Still, EVs had a banner year in 2019, growing to 2.6% of the global car market.

China remained by far the largest EV market in the world, accounting for half of those sold in 2019. More than one million EVs were sold in China in 2019, a 2% decrease from the previous year. The European market sold 561,000 cars in 2019 with the U.S. following with 327,000 cars sold.

In IEA’s sustainable development scenario, the global EV stock will grow annually at 36%, reaching 245 million vehicles in 2030 — more than 30 times above today’s sales. By this time, EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost half compared to equivalent internal combustion engine vehicles.

Learn more about IEA’s findings with its Global EV Outlook report.

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com

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