Exponential growth: Global sales of new electric cars may tip seven million this year – The Driven

There is a great deal of speculation about how many plug in vehicles (Battery Electric Vehicles and Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) will be sold globally in 2021. Most Australians are starting to spot those weird Tesla Model 3’s on the road. From being rare, they are becoming commonplace in Brisbane.

My neighbor used to count them when he was out and about, now he doesn’t bother – he tells me that they are everywhere when he goes to pick up his son from high school.

Australians are beginning to realize that we are at the start of something exciting. EVs sales have doubled here in 2021. Last year we were seeing an EV penetration of less than 1%, now it is getting towards 2%. Still miniscule you say – but what about the global picture?

By the end of July, 3 million EVs were sold around the world achieving a 7% penetration. Historically, the figures for sales are much higher in the second half of the year – any Q4 sales in the EV world at about 33-35% of the year’s total.

So will we see 6 million plug in vehicles sold globally this year? The maths seems to indicate that it might even be more!

From 2010 to 2018 EV sales grew at 60% per year. Starting at 1 million vehicles (just because the maths is easier) this is what that looks like in numbers:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10
1 000 000 1 600 000 2 560 000 4 096 000 6 553 600 10 485 760 16 777 216 26 843 545 42 949 672 68 719 472


Punching those numbers into Excel – gives you this graph.

At that growth rate, most new vehicles will be will have a plug by 2027.

What has actually happened?

The world reached 1 million plug in vehicle sales in the year 2017 …


2019 was an anomaly caused by the removal of subsidies by the Chinese government for EVs that were not of appropriate standard (ie not highway capable). This has led to a revitalized Chinese EV industry which is poised to export to the world. Please note that COVID has not really affected sales of EVs.

What happens next?

Looking at figures published in Inside EVs and Cleantechnica we seem to be headed for a bumper year for EV sales with numbers that may exceed the projections above. China is already at 15% and Europe at 20% of new cars being EVs. Each month seems to herald the launch of a new EV from either China or Europe.

Tesla alone may reach a million EVs delivered this year, and next year with addition of Tesla’s GigaBerlin and GigagTexas will have the capacity to produce 2 million cars a year.

There are many smaller markets not represented here that will add to the total.

All up, we are getting close to the possibility of 7 million. Place your bets!

I know that this is speculation. I am hoping it will create a conversation. History and statistics are on the side of EVS.

David Waterworth is a researcher and writer, a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He owns 50 shares of Tesla.


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