Jan 29, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Electric vehicle sales far surpass pandemic expectations

Data: EIA; Note: 2020 figures are preliminary; Chart: Axios Visuals

New International Energy Agency preliminary data shows that worldwide sales grew by an estimated 40% last year, exceeding the agency's expectations.

Why it matters: The increase occurred despite a drop on overall global vehicle sales.

  • "Backed by existing policy support and additional stimulus measures, the IEA preliminary estimate is that electric car sales worldwide climbed to over 3 million and reached a market share of over 4%," they write.

Reality check: "While impressive, the share of electric vehicles in total car sales is still only one-tenth that of conventional SUV sales," IEA analysts noted in their commentary alongside the data.

How it works: IEA sees a few reasons EV sales didn't fall sharply alongside conventional car sales, even though COVID-19 initially hindered both manufacturing and demand.

  • One was that policy support was strong, especially in Europe.
  • There were also continued declines in battery costs, more models coming to market, and enthusiasm among affluent car buyers less affected by the economic crisis.

What we're watching: The trajectory of U.S. sales in the years ahead, which were essentially flat year over year in the United States.

  • But more models are coming to showrooms, and Biden hopes to implement policies — ranging from tougher emissions rules to charging infrastructure support — that will expand deployment.
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