Electric Vehicle Sales To Surge in the Coming Decades

Credit: Birmingham City Council/Flickr

The number of electric vehicles on the road worldwide could reach 125 million by 2030, up from just over 3 million last year, according to a new analysis by the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization that tracks energy trends. The rapid growth isn’t limited to personal vehicles, but will also be seen with electric buses, two-wheelers (such as motorcycles), and trucks.

The number of EVs worldwide jumped 54 percent between 2016 and last year. China is currently the largest electric car market, with 580,000 EVs sold in 2017, accounting for half of global sales. The United States was the second-largest market, with 280,000 cars sold last year, up from 160,000 in 2016. In terms of market share, Nordic countries still dominate. In Norway, for example, 39 percent of all new car sales in 2017 were electric vehicles.

Private charging stations are keeping up with the growth in EVs, with almost 3 million of them worldwide in 2017. There were 430,000 publicly accessible chargers last year, but only one-quarter of them are fast chargers.

The IEA report warns that the uptake in EVs has been, and will likely continue to be, driven by government policies. It also warns that lithium-ion batteries need to continue to be improved upon to deal with global supply issues for nickel, lithium, and, especially, cobalt. Nearly 60 percent of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 90 percent is refined in China, and yet demand for the element is expected to be 10 to 25 times higher by 2030.