Global sales of electric cars (EVs) are set to surge to yet another record this year, expanding their share of the overall car market to close to one-fifth and leading a major transformation of the auto industry that has implications for the energy sector, especially oil.
According to the latest International Energy Agency (IEA) annual Global Electric Vehicle Outlook, more than 10 million electric cars were sold worldwide in 2022 and sales are expected to grow by another 35% this year to reach 14 million.
This explosive growth means EVs share of the overall car market has risen from around 4% in 2020 to 14% in 2022 and is set to increase further to 18% this year, based on the latest IEA projections.
“Electric vehicles are one of the driving forces in the new global energy economy that is rapidly emerging – and they are bringing about a historic transformation of the car manufacturing industry worldwide,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
“The trends we are witnessing have significant implications for global oil demand. The internal combustion engine has gone unrivaled for over a century, but electric vehicles are changing the status quo. By 2030, they will avoid the need for at least 5 million barrels a day of oil. Cars are just the first wave: electric buses and trucks will follow soon.”
The overwhelming majority of electric car sales to date are mainly concentrated in three markets – China, Europe and the United States.
China is the frontrunner, with 60% of global electric car sales taking place there in 2022. Today, more than half of all-electric cars on the road worldwide are in China. Europe and the United States, the second and third largest markets, both saw strong growth with sales increasing 15% and 55% respectively in 2022.
By 2030, the average share of electric cars in total sales across China, the EU and the United States is set to rise to around 60%.
The trends are also having knock-on effects for battery production and supply chains. The new report highlights that announced battery manufacturing projects would be more than enough to meet the demand for electric vehicles to 2030 in the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.
However, manufacturing remains highly concentrated, with China dominating the battery and component trade – and increasing its share of global electric car exports to more than 35% last year.
Despite a concentration of electric car sales and manufacturing in only a few big markets, there are promising signs in other regions. Electric car sales more than tripled in India and Indonesia last year, albeit from a low base, and they more than doubled in Thailand.
The share of electric cars in total sales rose to 3% in Thailand, and to 1.5% in India and Indonesia. A combination of effective policies and private sector investment is likely to increase these shares in the future.
In India, the government’s US$3.2 billion incentive programme, which has attracted investments worth US$8.3 billion, is expected to increase battery manufacturing and EV rollout substantially in the coming years.
In emerging and developing economies, the most dynamic area of electric mobility is two- or three-wheel vehicles, which outnumber cars.
For example, over half of India’s three-wheeler registrations in 2022 were electric, demonstrating their growing popularity. In many developing economies, two- or three-wheelers offer an affordable way to get access to mobility, meaning their electrification is important to support sustainable development.