EV Use: A Global Comparison

By January 29, 2020 Blog
Close up of a car charging

Close up of a car chargingOver the past decade, the dramatic rise of electric vehicle use around the world has settled the debate once and for all: electric cars are here to stay. As more countries begin to shift their energy consumption from fossil fuels to alternative sources such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric, that trend has influenced the global automotive market.

The electric vehicle movement, spearheaded by Tesla with the launch of the Model S, changed the way many consumers thought about electric cars and their potential as viable alternatives to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. Today, the world’s most established and iconic automakers, from Ford and Chevy to Toyota, Nissan, and BMW, have all created their own flagship electric vehicles, opening the market to a wider share of consumers and thus triggering a revolution in global automotives. But how does electric vehicle, or ‘EV’, use compare around the world?

Below, we’ll take a look at EV adoption in countries worldwide to better understand where this exciting trend may be headed next.

Celebrating Sustainability In Scandinavia

Downtown Oslo Norway skylineThree of the top five countries in the world leading the charge of electric vehicle usage are in Scandinavia, according to Avto Wow. Combined, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland make up over three-quarters of the entire global usage of electric vehicles, with Norway taking up an impressive 49 percent of the entire global market share! That is due, in part, to the Norwegiean government’s goal of transitioning all vehicles in the country to electric by the year 2025. They hope to reach this goal partly by levying heavy taxes on fossil fuels.

In a distant third and fourth place are Sweden and the Netherlands, respectively. This is not surprising given their proximity to Norway. It is worth noting that Iceland comes in second place, with about 19 percent of the market share, while Finland, another Scandinavian country, ranks seventh in total EV market share at about 4.2 percent.

The Dragon in the Room

With a population of over 1.5 billion, China has more vehicles on its roads than any other country. And as the Chinese population and economy continues to grow, the number of cars in China is only projected to rise. With many of the world’s countries increasingly concerned about the impact that countries like China, India, and Brazil could have on climate change, there’s often negative headlines regarding China’s role in contributing to carbon emissions.

While there is plenty of work to be done on that front, China can claim the 8th largest market share of electric vehicles, with about 4.2 percent of the world’s total EVs being driven in the world’s most populous country. That’s certainly a step in the right direction!

The United States Goes Electric

Tesla Model S on streetThe United States currently ranks around fifteenth in the top countries to adopt electric vehicles; Canada pulls just ahead of the US at number thirteen. In the United States, there exists a strong connection between the consumer and their cars; after all, the US was the birthplace of the automobile.

It’s no secret that American drivers love their gas-powered trucks and SUVs, but over the past several years, things have started to change. Rising fuel prices, a collective shift in attitudes toward climate change, a wider variety of EV makes and models, and the installation of more EV charging stations have all contributed to a larger acceptance of electric vehicles. And why shouldn’t Americans want to drive EVs? Tesla was founded in the United States, too.

While other automakers were slower to roll out their electric vehicle options, Ford and Chevy are now fully invested in electric. Furthermore, Ford has announced plans to roll out a fully electric pickup truck by 2022. That’s significant in that it represents the auto industry demonstrating a willingness to meet the demands of the American consumer. Which is to say: Americans want their trucks, but they also want them to be electric.

The last piece of the puzzle is the expansion of EV charging stations in the United States. With large pockets of interstate and rural areas slower to adopt EV stations, expanding the charging network throughout the US and finding innovative EV charging solutions is critical to the continued growth of electric vehicle usage.

The EV Takes Over the EU

The European Union has agreed to implement several important policies pertaining to electric vehicles, including the Clean Vehicles Directive, which offers tax-payer funds for the development of electric bus fleets. Similarly, new and renovated buildings must meet certain requirements for EV charging stations. It comes as no surprise, then, that several countries in the EU make up the top twenty in market share, including Portugal (5), Austria (9), Switzerland (10), and France (14).

The United Kingdom remains part of the EU in 2019 and is a country that has seen some of the fastest growth in its market share of electric vehicles between 2010 and 2019. Part of the growth is suspected to be related to a spike in EV charging stations throughout the UK, particularly in cities like London. It just goes to show that if you build it –– the EV infrastructure, that is –– the drivers will come.

What the World Needs Now

The adoption of electric vehicles is growing rapidly across the world. With iconic automakers joining the movement that Tesla began, increased competition and more consumer choice is expected to lower costs significantly over the next few years. In addition, advances in EV technology, such as the lower costs to produce EV batteries thanks to economies of scale, can also be passed along to consumers. This public sector response to market conditions combined with public policies, such as fossil fuel taxes and rebates for electric vehicle purchases, can ensure this trend continues.

However, the continued proliferation of electric vehicles is not guaranteed. Those aforementioned public policies are expected to play a major role going forward, as governments and citizens alike will need to work together to make electric vehicle charging stations more widely available. This will require investments in the infrastructure from governments –– and how those governments pay for those stations is a question which remains a challenge for many countries.

The good news is that, according to an analysis by IEA.org, all of these trends suggest a positive outlook for the future of electric vehicles. In fact, the organization predicts that in 2030, we may reach a critical milestone at which thirty percent of all vehicles in the world will be electric. Shocking, isn’t it?

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