27 Nov 18

EV capitals in the world

Since many cities are taking the lead in cleaning up their transportation, it should be no surprise that just a few cities are responsible for a large part of global EV sales, as is shown by a report of the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT).

The ICCT report - Electric vehicle capitals of the world: What markets are leading the transition to electric – listed a (non-exhaustive) list of top markets for passengers EVs; and indicates that the top markets by electric vehicle share of new passenger vehicles are Oslo (27%), Utrecht (15%), Shanghai (11%), Shenzhen (10%), Amsterdam (10%), and San Jose (9.4%). 

Nevertheless, the study did not include Canada and Germany, among others, which are two countries setting bold EV ambitions as well.


In terms of EV sales, China is taking the lead. Moreover, the six Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Guangzhou that implemented ICE restrictions accounted for 40% of the nation’s EV sales in 2017; and 21% of the world’s EV sales, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Eventually, the sales of EVs where two to four times the national average in these cities. 

One of the restrictions is the tough process to get a license plate for an ICE, which happens through a lottery in Beijing or cost more than $14,000 in Shanghai. EV permits, on the other hand, are free and can be obtained faster. 

Nevertheless, EVs still only account for about 2% of China’s passenger car sales last year, and less than 1% of global sales, according to BNEF.

Oslo, the EV capital of the world

Even if China takes the lead in absolute numbers of EV sales, Norway has the highest number of EVs per capita and is often seen as the EV capital of the world. Moreover, in 2017, more than half of all new cars sold in Oslo were electric, according to the World Economic Forum, a milestone in EV history. Of those cars, 27,5% were fully battery electric, and 14.1% plug-in hybrid, according to the Norwegian Road Federation (OFV). In 2018, the share of EVs for newly purchased vehicles will be over 50%, with a share of 53% so far. Still it will take a while before converting the entire Norwegian fleet into an electric one, since at the moment 16% of total cars are electric, of which 9% fully electric, and 7% plug-in hybrids.

Push and pull

These top markets have implemented several measures to facilitate EV deployment. The ICCT analysed that 98% of the global EV sales happen in China, Europe, Japan, and the US, due to their regulations to ensure EV model availability, infrastructure, campaigns to educate consumers and incentives to reduce the EV price. Moreover, comprehensive local policies are a determining factor. 

Eventually, the market leaders are paving the way for the entire market, creating economies of scale, overcoming barriers such as the need for universal charging access, and linking electrification to shared and autonomous mobility. Not only pushing the business, but the policy side as well.

Authored by: Fien Van den steen