Jun 1, 2022 - Energy & Environment

The risk of diverging EV futures

Illustration of EV chargers, wheels and money elements.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Electric vehicle growth is following an uneven path that may leave emerging economies behind, a new analysis warns.

Why it matters: "There is a growing risk that the transition is not an equitable one, and that many economies miss out on the benefits of better air quality and new investment," the research firm BloombergNEF finds.

The big picture: The post-2025 section of its just-released annual outlook explores global EV adoption under two broad scenarios.

  • The "economic transition scenario" is driven largely by "techno-economic trends and market forces" and assumes no new policies.
  • That's what you see in the chart below — and the "adoption gap" is clear even as sales surge this decade in Europe, China and the U.S.
  • The other broad scenario is a pathway to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 in the road transportation sector.

Zoom in: Faster uptake in emerging economies is key (but not a silver bullet!) for getting transportation overall on that net-zero pathway.The report covers all vehicle categories but sticking with passenger cars, this stat drives the point home:

  • The global electric passenger fleet is roughly 470 million in 2035 in the "economic transition" case.
  • It needs to be 612 million in the net-zero path, and "much of the gap will have to be met in emerging economies."
  • This divide also exists to varying degrees in segments like buses and two- and three-wheeled vehicles.

What they're saying: The report calls for rich countries and multilateral institutions to weave EV investments, incentives and charging deployments into international climate finance plans.

Data: BloombergNEF; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals
The big picture on electric vehicles
  • Here are some high-level takeaways from the new EV outlook by BloombergNEF.
  • Sales are soaring. Global passenger EV sales are slated to reach roughly 21 million in 2025, up from 6.6 million last year. Van and truck sales are also growing.
  • The commodity crunch isn't a crisis (for now). "Some of the factors that are driving high battery raw material costs — war, inflation, trade friction — are also pushing the price of gasoline and diesel to record highs, which is driving more consumer interest in EVs."
  • Still, it delays some EV segments' achievement of sticker price parity with internal-combustion models.
  • But adoption lags behind climate goals. The need for steep global emissions cuts means sales must grow even faster — even where they're already robust — to be consistent with the Paris Agreement goals for checking global warming.

The big picture: The path to a net-zero in 2050 means zero-emission vehicles need to be 61% of new passenger vehicle sales by 2030 and 100% by 2038.

  • "The window to stay on track for net zero is closing quickly," the report states, calling for a major push by governments and industry.

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