EVs are pushing ahead of plug-in hybrids as zero-emission sales soar around the world
According to a new report, sales of battery electric vehicles far outpace plug-in hybrid sales around the world and account for about 70% of registrations.
Vehicles that can drive zero emissions are beginning to account for a significant share of new car markets, accounting for up to 97% of sales in Norway, 60% in Sweden and 51% in the Netherlands. PHEVs continue to play an important role in some new vehicle markets, particularly in the European Union and Mexico, where they accounted for just under half and 75% of EV sales last year, respectively.
The information appears in a study by the countries of the Zero-Emission Vehicles Transition Council (ZEVTC). These include the member states of the European Union as well as Great Britain, the USA, Canada, South Korea, Japan, India and Mexico. Together, they accounted for about half of global EV registrations last year; China is the notable omission in the council and a key contributor to global EV sales growing 103% in 2021 to nearly 6.6 million units.
In terms of volume, Germany was the most significant of the ZEVTC markets with 690,800 plug-in vehicle sales, ahead of the UK with 660,200 and the UK with 353,500 registrations.
In terms of growth rate, however, India achieved the fastest acceleration in electric vehicle sales last year, growing its zero-emission vehicle registrations by 209% year-on-year to 14,900 in 2021, albeit from a small base.
Internationally, only Japan and South Korea recorded significant zero-emission fuel cell vehicle sales, and even then, totals were modest — 5% of EV sales in Japan and 8% in South Korea.
The rapid growth in electric vehicle sales has caused the ratio of vehicles to public chargers to rise to 14.1 per charger across all ZEVTC countries, compared to 10.2 in 2020. Globally, the ratio is 9.2 EVs per charger slightly lower in 2021, and BloombergNEF reports that national investment in charging infrastructure varies widely across countries. In the Netherlands, Canada and Japan, the ratio of EVs to public chargers has remained relatively constant, suggesting infrastructure is keeping pace with demand, but in Denmark, Italy and the UK, charging station installations have lagged behind EV sales growth .
A small handful of vehicle manufacturers are benefiting from this burgeoning EV demand, with Tesla, VW Group, GM and Hyundai-Kia accounting for nearly two-thirds of EV sales in ZEVTC markets. Overall, electric vehicles accounted for 19% of BMW’s sales, 17% of Geely’s, and 14% of Mercedes-Benz’s, all well behind Tesla’s 100%.
Powering this growing fleet of electric vehicles has resulted in a significant drop in oil sales – saving the need for about 1.5 million barrels per day in 2021, or 3.3% of global oil demand. BloombergNEF’s net-zero scenario predicts that electric vehicles will reduce daily demand for oil by 7 million barrels by 2030, roughly equivalent to all of Russia’s pre-war oil exports in Ukraine.
However, demand for fossil fuels from the commercial vehicle sector is likely to remain strong as zero-emission trucks are sold very little. According to BloombergNEF, truck manufacturers’ decarbonization efforts are split between battery electric and fuel cells.
“Some fuel cell trucks are also being tested, but their deployment schedules generally point to the late 2020s,” the report said. “For both technologies, refueling infrastructure is a necessary condition before large-scale deployment.”