London — Europe superseded China as the global driver of electric car sales in 2020 for the first time in five years, as total EV sales jumped 43% despite the COVID-19 crisis hitting overall car sales, according to data from EV-volumes.com.
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Sales of plug-in passenger car in Europe in 2020 rose 137% year on year to almost 1.4 million in a "disturbed" auto market that was down 20% year on year overall, EV-volumes said, citing preliminary data. In China, EV sales rose 12% last year to 1.34 million vehicles.
"It was the combination of new attractive models, incentive boosts by green recovery funds, the 95g CO2 mandate, much-improved availability and intense promotion of EVs," EV-volumes said, referring to the higher European sales.
Global EV sales rose 43% to reach 3.24 million units for the first time and their global market share increased from 2.5% in 2019 to 4.2% in 2020, EV-volumes said.
"The overall picture is that global EV sales have returned to the S-Curve [growth trajectory] in terms of volume and are somewhat above trend in terms of share," EV-volumes said.
Looking ahead, EV-volumes said it expects plug-in EV sales to reach 4.6 million this year, with higher growth in North America and China. Europe is not likely to repeat the 137% increase of last year, "but 2 million sales are within reach", it said.
In October, the International Energy Agency left its annual estimate for the number of electric cars on the roads in 2040 little changed at 330 million vehicles, citing expected continued robust policy support but with the potential for lower long-term oil prices extending the payback time for EVs. Under its base case scenario, the global electric vehicle fleet will displace around 2.5 million b/d of oil products by 2030, according to the IEA.