EVs surging ahead of plug-in hybrids as zero emission sales soar globally
Sales of battery-electric vehicles are far outstripping sales of plug-in hybrids around the world, accounting for about 70% of registrations, according to a new report.
Vehicles capable of driving with zero emissions are starting to account for significant shares of new car markets, rising as high as 97% of sales in Norway, 60% in Sweden and 51% in the Netherlands. PHEVs still play an important role in some new car markets, especially within the European Union and Mexico, where they accounted for just under a half and 75% of EV sales last year, respectively.
The information appears in a study of Zero-Emission Vehicles Transition Council (ZEVTC) countries. These include the European Union member states as well as the UK, US, Canada, South Korea, Japan, India and Mexico. Together, they accounted for about half of the world’s EV registrations last year; China is the notable omission from the council, and a key contributor to the 103% global growth in EV sales in 2021 to almost 6.6million units.
In volume terms, Germany was the most significant of the ZEVTC markets, at 690,800 sales of plug-in vehicles, ahead of the UK on 660,200 and the UK with 353,500 registrations.
In terms of growth rate, however, India achieved the fastest acceleration in the sale of electric vehicles last year, increasing its zero emission vehicle registrations by 209% year on year, to reach 14,900 in 2021, albeit from a small base.
Internationally, only Japan and South Korea recorded any meaningful sales volumes of zero emission fuel cell vehicles, and even then the totals were modest – 5% of EV sales in Japan and 8% in South Korea.
The rapid growth in EV sales has seen the ratio of vehicles to public chargers increase in all ZEVTC countries, rising to 14.1 per charger compared to 10.2 in 2020. Globally, the ratio is slightly lower at 9.2 EVs per charger in 2021, and BloombergNEF reports that national investment in charging infrastructure differs widely from country to country. In Netherlands, Canada and Japan the ratio of EV to public chargers has remained relatively consistent, indicating that infrastructure is keeping pace with demand, but in Denmark, Italy and the UK charge point installations have lagged behind the growth of EV sales.
A small handful of vehicle manufacturers are capitalising on this burgeoning demand for EVs, with Tesla, VW Group, GM and Hyundai-Kia accounting for almost two-thirds of EV sales in ZEVTC markets. Overall, EVs represented 19% of BMW’s sales, 17% of Geely’s and 14% of Mercedes-Benz, all of them a long way behind Tesla’s 100%.
Powering this growing fleet of EVs has led to an important decrease in sales of oil – avoiding the need for about 1.5 million barrels per day in 2021, or 3.3% of global oil demand. BloombergNEF’s net zero scenario forecasts that by 2030 EVs will reduce the daily demand for oil by 7 million barrels, roughly equivalent to Russia’s total oil exports prior to the war in Ukraine.
Demand for fossil fuels from the commercial vehicle sector, however, looks set to remain strong with very low sales of zero emission trucks. Decarbonisation efforts among truck manufacturers are split between battery electric and fuel cells, according to BloombergNEF.
“Some fuel cell trucks are also being trialled, but their deployment timelines generally point towards the end of the 2020s,” said the report. “For either technology, refueling infrastructure is a necessary condition before large-scale adoption.”