Future of the Environment

China is leading a surge in electric vehicle sales

By 2025, 19% of all car sales in China are expected to be electric, compared to 14% in Europe and only 11% in the US

By 2025, 19% of all car sales in China are expected to be electric, compared to 14% in Europe and only 11% in the US Image: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Charlotte Beale
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China is the fastest adopter of electric vehicles (EVs) worldwide, is an expected to account for half of global sales over the next seven years.

In 2017, a fifth of all EV sales were in just six Chinese cities, where there are tight restrictions on buying and using new internal combustion engines.

By 2025, EV sales across the world are set to increase ten-fold, to 11 million. In China, EVs will account for 19% of all passenger vehicle sales, compared to 14% in Europe and 11% in the US, according to Bloomberg's Electric Vehicles Outlook 2018.

In the mid-2020s, EV prices are expected to match those of internal combustion engine vehicles. Once this happens, a "tectonic shift" in car buying will take place, sending global sales of EVs to 30 million by 2030.

Since 2010, battery prices have dropped almost 80% to $209/kWh, due to better technology. By 2030, $70/kWh is forecast. The energy density of batteries is also increasing by 5 to 7% every year.

The US has been slow to adopt EVs, which accounted for only 1% of its car sales in 2017. In April 2018, 20,000 passenger EVs were sold in the US, compared to 72,000 in China. While an American car buyer currently has around 40 electric-powered models to choose from, they will have 100 by 2022. Across the world, almost 300 models will be on sale by then.

From 2019, vehicle manufacturers in China will effectively be forced into producing EVs through a ‘New Energy Vehicle’ credit system. This demands that they generate credits through either selling their own EVs or buying credits from other EV vendors. China's policies to boost EV sales are part of its strategy to build a major EV industry. More EVs also mean healthier air and fewer oil imports.

By 2040, 200 million EVs will be on the road in China, accounting for 60% of its vehicles. Globally, this figure will be 559 million - a third of all cars. At this point, electric cars and buses will be displacing an estimated 7.3 million barrels of transport fuel every day.

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