Sunday, June 12, 2016

Policy support and technology progress helps electric cars worldwide surge past the 1 million milestone

One million and counting: electric cars crossed the milestone in 2015 on their way to finish the year with 1.26 million units deployed worldwide, a new IEA report documents, as sales and construction of necessary infrastructure both surged about 70% in a critical advance towards limiting carbon emissions from the transport sector.

The Global EV Outlook 2016 includes an analysis of the growth and potential of the electric vehicle (EV) market. It adds to the findings of the newly released Energy Technology Perspectives 2016’s Tracking Clean Energy Report, which listed EVs among the only three clean energy technologies on track to meet 2025 targets for successful transition to a decarbonised energy system.

Electric cars still have just a 0.1% market share worldwide. But they make up more than 1% of the fleet in seven countries, including China, where registrations tripled last year. Norway had the highest share of electric cars, at 23%, followed by the Netherlands, at 10%. The other countries are Sweden, Denmark, France, China and the United Kingdom, while a decline in US electric cars sales pulled the share there down to 0.7%.

[The International Energy Agency estimates that 1.26 million electric cars hit the world's roads in 2015....  The United States now has 400,000 electric vehicles on the road — a massive increase since 2010.  there were only a few hundred electric vehicles on the entire planet back in 2005... And the total number of electric vehicles worldwide has tripled just since 2013.

But there are more than 1 billion gasoline- and diesel-powered cars on the world's roads — and demand will keep soaring in the decades ahead as China and India's middle classes expand.... In order to avoid more than 2°C of global warming, the IEA calculates, we'd likely need to see about 150 million electric cars on the road by 2030.   The agency says that this ambitious electric vehicle target seems much more feasible than it did just a few years ago.
Battery costs ... have fallen by a factor of four since 2008. Since batteries make up around one-third of the price of electric vehicles, getting this number down even further is crucial for widespread adoption


The Department of Energy estimates that battery costs need to fall to $125 per kilowatt-hour by 2022 to achieve cost-competitiveness with conventional vehicles. The IEA says this "seems realistic" given current rates of technological improvement, and points out that manufacturers like Tesla and GM have set even more ambitious cost targets.

The amount of energy that batteries can hold (known as energy density) has also improved significantly. The IEA cites various reports that electric cars will soon be able to travel more than 180 miles on a single charge — also critical for boosting consumer adoption and alleviating "range anxiety."]

Policy support is the main driver of electric cars’ sales success, Beyond One Million Electric Cars explains. Among other incentives, both Norway and the Netherlands reduce registration taxes for EVs and allow them access to lanes barred to other vehicles. Other policy support mechanisms detailed in the Global EV outlook 2016 include fee and toll waivers, both on the road and for parking, and tailpipe emission standards.

Indeed, not only did electric car sales surge in 2015, but so did infrastructure for EVs, with total electric vehicle supply equipment reaching 1.45 million units, against 820 000 in 2014 and roughly 20 000 in 2010. The number of publicly accessible chargers grew 71% last year, including 63% more fast chargers.

The Global EV Outlook 2016 also highlights rapid cost declines and performance improvements in the past decade (since 2008, estimates of battery costs were cut by a factor four and battery energy density had a fivefold increase). Technology learning and economies of scale hold the promise to continue reducing progressively technology costs in the forthcoming years.

Increased EV adoption would help approach goals related to limiting climate change and local air pollution. The EV deployment is critical to sustainable transport targets, along with greater use of public transportation and optimised urban structures to reduce trip distances. The IEA 2 Degree Scenario (2DS) in Energy Technology Perspectives requires at least 39% sustained annual average growth to meet its interim 2025 target for limiting global temperature rise.

Even more ambitious, the IEA-supported Electric Vehicle Initiative’s “20 by 20” target calls for 20 million EVs by 2020 globally, while the Paris Declaration on Electro-Mobility and Climate Change and Call to Action global deployment target is 100 million electric cars and 400 million electric two- and three-wheelers in 2030. The 2DS calls for all two- and three-wheelers to be electrified by 2050.

In addition to electric car, the Global EV Outlook 2016 provides insights on electric 2-wheelers and buses. One-fifth of the global fleet of two-wheelers is already electrified. This share grows to two-fifths of the stock in China, where anti-pollution policies banning the use of conventional motorcycles in cities have spurred sales. China is also the global leader in electric buses, with more than 170 000 on the road.
The United States now has 400,000 electric vehicles on the road — a massive increase since 2010

To download Global EV Outlook 2016, click here.

To learn more about IEA work on electric vehicles and transport policy, click here.
International Energy Agency
Press Release dated June 3, 2016
"The rapid growth of electric cars worldwide, in 4 charts"
By Brad Plummer

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