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Electric vehicles to set new market share record in 2020

The International Energy Agency said it expects electric vehicle sales to set a new market share record in 2020.

For the first four months of 2020, the IEA estimates that the passenger car market will have contracted by 15% year over year, while sales of electric passenger and commercial light-duty vehicles will remain close to 2019 levels. The IEA estimates electric vehicle sales will account for 3% of global car sales in 2020, surpassing the 2019 record of 2.6%.

According to the IEA, EVs reduced oil consumption by almost 600,000 barrels per day in 2019, and the intergovernmental organization projects the global EV fleet will displace approximately 2.5 million barrels per day of oil consumption in 2030. If governments place more emphasis on sustainable development policies, one of the key long-term uncertainties facing the global oil market as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, electric vehicles could displace the consumption of 4.2 million bbl/d of gasoline and diesel by 2030, the IEA projects.

"In 2019, indications of a continuing shift from direct subsidies to policy approaches that rely more on regulatory and other structural measures — including zero-emission vehicles mandates and fuel economy standards — have set clear, long-term signals to the auto industry and consumers that support the transition in an economically sustainable manner for governments," the IEA said.

According to the IEA, 17,000 electric cars were on the world's roads in 2010. In 2019, electric car sales reached 2.1 million, bringing the total number of electric vehicles on the world's roads to 7.2 million. 2019's 6% growth in electric vehicle sales is far below the more than 30% growth seen over the previous three years due to contractions in key growth automobile markets such as China and India as well as the reduction of electric vehicle subsidies in China and the U.S.

"With 90% of global electric car sales concentrated in China, Europe and the United States, this affected global sales and overshadowed the notable 50% sales increase in Europe in 2019, thus slowing the growth trend," the IEA said.

But the IEA said pent-up demand may be another factor driving the 2019 lull in EV sales.

"Today's consumer profile in the electric car market is evolving from early adopters and technophile purchases to mass adoption," the IEA said. "The 2018-19 versions of some common electric car models display a battery energy density that is 20-100% higher than were their counterparts in 2012. Further battery costs have decreased by more than 85% since 2010. The delivery of new mass-market models such as the Tesla Model 3 caused a spike in sales in 2018 in key markets such as the United States. … For the next five years, automakers have announced plans to release another 200 electric car models, many of which are in the popular sport utility market vehicle segment. As improvements in technical performance and cost reductions continue, consumers are placed in the position of being attracted to a product but wondering if it would be wise to wait for the 'latest and greatest model.'"