May 30, 2018 - Energy & Environment

Electric vehicles surge but falling short of long-term global target

Worldwide sales of electric vehicles jumped by 54% last year, but current and planned policies won't achieve an international goal of 30% of new vehicle sales by 2030, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

Data: Energy Information Administration; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: Major progress in electrifying the transport sector — not only passenger cars, but also trucks, buses and other transport — will be vital in achieving very steep greenhouse gas emissions cuts in the coming decades.

But, but, but: The IEA report looks at current trends against what would be needed to reach the collective 30% by 2030 goal — called EV30@30 — set a year ago by the Clean Energy Ministerial, whose members include the U.S., China, the EU, India and over 20 others.

  • The report notes that, under the EV30@30 goal, there would be 228 million electric vehicles on the roads worldwide — mostly passenger vehicles as well as light commercial vehicles, buses and trucks.
  • That's around 100 million vehicles more than under the "new policies" scenario, which models existing and announced policies and shows they will fall well short of the target.

Where things stand now: EV sales surpassed 1 million vehicles in 2017, with China leading the way and accounting for more than half of all sales as EVs reached a market share of 2.2%.

  • The worldwide number of electric cars grew to over 3 million last year, and 40% of those are in China, the world's biggest auto market. It's expected to see steep growth in years ahead as the central government bolsters support.

Not just cars: "Electrification of other transport modes is also developing quickly, especially for two-wheelers and buses. In 2017, sales of electric buses were about 100,000 and sales of two-wheelers are estimated at 30 million; for both modes, the vast majority was in China," the report states.

Charging: The number of private charging stations at residences and workplaces reached around 3 million last year. There were around 430,000 publicly accessible chargers worldwide in 2017, and one-fourth were fast-chargers, IEA said.

The big picture: Falling battery costs and increased consumer offerings are helping spur adoption, but growth to date is still "largely driven" by supportive government policies such as financial incentives, public procurement, and low-carbon vehicle mandates, IEA said.

  • The report recommends lays out a bunch policy options — around charging access, procurement, emissions targets and more — for helping to "create optimal circumstances for the uptake of EVs."
  • "A first policy priority should be the phase-out and removal of fossil fuel subsidies in countries that still apply them," IEA said.
  • "This is closely followed by the need to establish taxes reflecting the carbon content of fuels, and to reinforce these with taxes that cover other impacts (such as local pollutant emissions) in countries that have already some type of carbon taxation," the report adds.
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