Features
4 Aug 21

EVs to outsell ICEs in US by 2036

In the United States, electric vehicles (EVs) will outsell cars with an internal combustion engine (ICEs) by 2036, an EY study predicts. That’s sooner than previously predicted, but still years behind both Europe and China.

Over the next decade, most observers agree, vehicle electrification is going to ramp up fast across the world. Analysis by global consultancy firm EY provides some insight into global trends – and regional divergence between the world’s three biggest automotive markets: China, Europe and the US (pictured: night traffic on Lombard Street in San Francisco). 

Tipping points

  • Looking at the three regions together, EV sales will outstrip ICEs by 2033. That is five years earlier than previously predicted.
  • However, the EV/ICE tipping point diverges considerably among the three regions. Europe will go first, in 2028; then China, in 2033; and finally the US, in 2036.
  • In terms of sales volume, Europe will lead until 2031, after which China will lead until 2050.
  • By 2045, global non-EV sales will shrink to less than 1% of overall sales. 

Changed attitudes

The pandemic has changed attitudes towards mobility, EY says, with many who previously favoured shared and public transport now more positive about owning a private car. 

  • A recent survey shows 31% of non-car owners (half of which are millennials) now planning on buying a car in the next six months, with 19% planning to buy new, and 12% second-hand.
  • At present, EVs are not yet the top favourite: only 30% of those surveyed (car owners and non-car owners alike) said they’d prefer a non-ICE for their next car.  

Paradigm shift

Electrification, as it gathers steam, should be understood as a paradigm shift with a number of drivers:

  • OEM commitments: many manufacturers have set targets for de-carbonising their range. Volvo will stop producing ICEs by 2030, and GM will only offer EVs from 2035, to name two examples. 
  • Government objectives: following inaction by the more sceptical Trump administration, president Biden is committed to creating the regulatory environment and targeting investments for electrification to happen, including continuing to offer purchase incentives and to invest in charging infrastructure.  
  • Generational change: millennials are more prepared to adapt behaviour in order to have a positive effect on the environment – buying EVs is a very visible manifestation of this. 

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs