6 Feb 19

Global EV car sales top 2 million vehicles for the first time

For the first time in history, global EV car sales have hit the 2-million mark. Historic as that may be, this still accounts for only 2.2% of car sales, according to numbers released by S&P Global Platts Analytics.

In 2018, a total of 2.08 million plug-in EVs were delivered to customers. Of those cars, 1.45 million were full-electric cars and the rest were plug-in hybrid models. These numbers represent a 63% increase compared to the year before.

Tesla Model 3

Thanks to the US market, the Tesla Model 3 became the best-selling EV of all time, boosting total US EV sales by 81%.

EV sales in China increased by 76% compared to 2017 and make up just over half of global EV sales with 1.17 million vehicles sold.


Despite these growth numbers, the market share of the global passenger vehicle market held by electric vehicles remains very low. At the end of last year, the 5.3 million electric vehicles on the road accounted for just 0.5% of the world’s total light vehicle fleet.

Some countries perform better. Norway enjoys the highest EV penetration level with more than 40% of light vehicles sales in 2017. The number 2, Iceland, follows at a distance, with an EV penetration of 17.1%. Sweden and the Netherlands have an EV penetration rate of 7.2% and 5.2% respectively. Across Europe, EV sales were 33% higher than in 2017, reaching 408,000 vehicles.


S&P Global Platts Analytics believes EVs and plug-in hybrids will account for nearly half of global car sales by 2040, leading to an expanding role for the electricity sector.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicts global oil demand growth will peak by 2030, largely due to the popularity of EVs. According to experts, cost-parity between EVs and ICE-powered vehicles could occur by 2025, boosting sales further.

Critics of optimistic EV sales forecasts point out that EVs rely heavily on government subsidies to reach high levels of market penetration. Similarly, production constraints, worries about battery minerals and electricity production and distribution cast a shadow over our electric future.

Image: Tesla Model 3 at the 2019 Brussels Motor Show

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck