Electric car sales powered through 2021 and have remained strong so far in 2022, but ensuring future growth will demand greater efforts to diversify battery manufacturing and critical mineral supplies to reduce the risks of bottlenecks and price rises, according to the International Energy Agency.
Sales of electric cars (including fully electric and plug-in hybrids) doubled in 2021 to a new record of 6.6 million, with more now sold each week than in the whole of 2012, according to the latest edition of the annual Global Electric Vehicle Outlook.
Despite strains along global supply chains, sales kept rising strongly into 2022, with 2 million electric cars sold worldwide in the first quarter, up by three-quarters from the same period a year earlier. The number of electric cars on the world’s roads by the end of 2021 was about 16.5 million, triple the amount in 2018.
In China, electric car sales nearly tripled in 2021 to 3.3 million, accounting for about half of the global total. Sales also grew strongly in Europe (increasing by 65 per cent to 2.3 million) and the United States (more than doubling to 630 000). Chinese electric cars are typically smaller than in other markets. Alongside lower manufacturing costs, this has significantly reduced the price gap with traditional cars.
The median price of an electric car in China was only 10 per cent more than that of conventional offerings, compared with 45 per cent to 50 per cent on average in other major markets. By contrast, electric car sales are lagging in most emerging and developing economies where only a few models are often available and at prices that are unaffordable for mass-market consumers.
Sustained policy support has been one of the main reasons for strong electric car sales in many markets, with overall public spending on subsidies and incentives doubling in 2021 to nearly USD 30 billion. A growing number of countries have ambitious vehicle electrification targets for the coming decades, and many carmakers have plans to electrify their fleets that go beyond policy targets. Five times more electric car models were available globally in 2021 than in 2015, and the number of available models reached 450 by the end of 2021.