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Global Electric Vehicle Adoption: Progress in Motion

Friday, March 8, 2013

By Paul Telleen, Clean Energy Ministerial Electric Vehicle Initiative

Electrifying the global vehicle fleet is a key component of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) goals of improving energy efficiency and enhancing clean energy supply. In addition to significantly reducing petroleum consumption, associated greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants, the widespread deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) may also play a role in the integration of renewable energy resources through “smart charging.”

Realizing large-scale vehicle electrification, however, is undoubtedly a long-term endeavor. Transforming the way automobiles have been powered for over 100 years and scaling the requisite infrastructure will not occur in a matter of months. Yet, while EV market shares among passenger cars are still below 1% in most major markets—due in part to high upfront costs, drivers’ misgivings about range, and a lack of consumer education—there is still considerable progress in the global market.

The year 2012 was marked by some notable milestones: annual world sales of EV passenger cars exceeded 100,000 units, more than doubling from the preceding year; Motor Trend magazine named the all-electric Tesla Model S its 2013 Car of the Year, marking the first time a non-petrol-powered vehicle won the accolade; and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt ranked highest in Consumer Reports’ owner satisfaction survey for a second year in a row. Moreover, through their actions and words, governments and industry have reaffirmed their commitment to electrification resulting in a substantial reduction in battery costs, increased infrastructure deployment, fleet procurement, and a variety of innovative public-private partnerships.

The CEM’s Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) is helping to fuel this progress through an ongoing policy dialogue among its 15 member governments, as well as with robust private sector engagement. EVI seeks to facilitate the global deployment of at least 20 million passenger car EVs, including plug-in hybrid and fuel cell electric vehicles, by 2020. EVI members include many of the leading countries in vehicle electrification and thus represent a reliable bellwether for global EV readiness. At the end of 2012, EVI member countries accounted for over 90% of global EV stock. Its members comprise 8 of the 10 largest vehicle markets in the world and are projected to account for 83% of EV sales between now and 2020. EVI is therefore assembling a unique and highly-valuable global perspective of the burgeoning EV market and identifying important market trends and best practices.

This is not to say that the road ahead will be easy. Significant technological, financial, market, and policy challenges remain. These challenges are complex and will require a broad and coordinated effort among all relevant stakeholders to address them. Market penetration will likely unfold gradually over a number of years, thus requiring a healthy dose of patience for those anticipating a new era of clean transport. Yet the important achievements that the EV market has already made in just two years provide a strong foundation for future growth. 

3 comments on article "Global Electric Vehicle Adoption: Progress in Motion"

Franco Gonzalez

3/13/2013 11:03 PM

Hi would you be able to share the source of the following figure?

"annual world sales of EV passenger cars exceeded 100,000 units"



3/14/2013 9:02 PM

Hi Franco,

Thanks for your inquiry. That figure comes primarily from data submitted by EVI member governments, supplemented by sales information from other research organizations.


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6/12/2013 1:44 AM

This article is very interesting

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