In the world of clean energy, few areas are as dynamic as the electric car market. In the whole of 2012, about 130 000 electric cars were sold worldwide. Today, that many are sold in the space of a single week.
Growth has been particularly impressive over the last three years, even as the global pandemic shrank the market for conventional cars and as manufacturers started grappling with supply chain bottlenecks. In 2019, 2.2 million electric cars 1 were sold, representing just 2.5% of global car sales. In 2020, the overall car market contracted but electric car sales bucked the trend, rising to 3 million and representing 4.1% of total car sales. In 2021, electric car sales more than doubled to 6.6 million, representing close to 9% of the global car market and more than tripling their market share from two years earlier. All the net growth in global car sales in 2021 came from electric cars.
We estimate there are now around 16 million electric cars on the road worldwide, consuming roughly 30 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity per year, the equivalent of all the electricity generated in Ireland. Electric cars helped avoid oil consumption and CO2 emissions in 2021, although these benefits were cancelled out by the parallel increase in the sales of SUVs.
Sales of electric cars hit 6.6 million in 2021, more than tripling their market share from two years earlier. Electric car sales generally tend to be higher later in the year. In 2021, December sales were more than two and half times as high as sales in January in the top three markets. Still, over the course of 2021, monthly electric car sales were consistently at least 50% higher than the corresponding month in 2020.
(Courtesy IEA/by Leonardo Paoli, Timur Gül)