Global electric car sales up by over 50% in 2017, IEA says

Electric car sales around the world rose by 54% in 2017. (AFP pic)

PARIS: Electric car sales around the world rose by 54% in 2017, taking global stock across the three-million threshold, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Wednesday.

In China, the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, sales also grew by about half, but their market share remained small at 2.2%.

In Norway, electric vehicles have by far the world’s highest market share, but even there, it is still only 6.4%, according to the IEA.

Nonetheless, the Paris-based agency was optimistic about the sector’s prospects.

“Supportive policies and cost reductions are likely to lead to significant growth in the market uptake of (electric vehicles) in the outlook period to 2030,” the report said.

Should policy-makers honour their current commitments to the environment, “the number of electric light-duty vehicles on the road (would reach) 125 million by 2030,” it added.

Should policy ambitions then develop further, that number could become as high as 220 million in 2030, it said.

But the IEA said that in order for the cars of the future to overtake their gasoline and diesel-powered competitors, governments will have to take the lead.

“The main markets by volume (China) and sales share (Norway) have the strongest policy push,” the IEA said.

“Looking ahead, the strongest current policy signals emanate from electric car mandates in China and California, as well as the European Union’s recent proposal on carbon dioxide emissions standards for 2030.”

The EU has committed to cutting 40% of its greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, and to boosting its use of renewable energy by at least 27%.

France, home to Europe’s second-largest car industry after Germany, has gone further by announcing a plan to end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as part of an ambitious plan to meet its targets under the Paris climate accord.

Electric vehicles use batteries instead of gasoline or diesel, thereby massively reducing their damage to the environment.

But they are not without controversy.

Key components in the batteries include the mineral cobalt, much of which comes from the unrest-hit Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rights groups have raised concerns about corruption in the cobalt industry and often poor working conditions for the miners in DR Congo.