The 18% share of total global sales is a big leap from the IEA's own estimate of just 4% in 2020 and comes after EV sales passed the 10m/year mark for the first time in 2022. Sales of new EVs worldwide are projected to rise 35% to 14m this year, with plug-in models included in that count.
The jump comes off the back of major policy announcements such as the US Inflation Reduction Act, which supports green industry and offers subsidies for consumer EV purchases. The EU has introduced similar initiatives this year. China is home to half the EVs on the road globally today and 60% of sales took place there last year and has seen battery electric models hit the same starting prices as their combustion engined equivalents, too.
Governments are increasingly investing in green infrastructure seen as the future out of concern for the environment as well as to reduce dependency on fossil fuels for energy security reasons. That ahift will remove some five million barrels of oil a day from use by 2030 according to Reuters, from EV uptake alone.
'Technology is driving adoption'
It's not just a shift in policy that's driving EV adoption, it's the EVs themselves - they're getting better all the time and consumers are loving it.
A recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the growth in demand for EVs is due to the appeal of the vehicles themselves, with features and technology catching the eye of buyers - making them too good to pass up.
What does this mean? Well, as ranges improve as EVs get quicker and prove their low-cost maintenance credentials over their ICE equivalents, then the rapid rise in their sales' share should continue.
The study also found that consumers are increasingly finding EVs to be fun to drive in terms of ride and engagment in a way that comparable ICE cars just aren't.
What's more encouraging is that this survey was carried out three years ago - before the raft of innovations in range, performance and technology the world's leading automakers - many on the Formula E grid - have since driven. Prices are falling too. EVs relative expense was once consumers' major concern when looking to buy a new vehicle. The cost gap is shrinking, which, again, will drive growth in market share.
“This is positive news because it’s showing that even when we’re talking about mainstream consumers, they’re still valuing the attributes of all-electric vehicles," said Kate Whitefoot, a co-author of the paper and engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon. “As we continue to see increases in the range of EVs and dropping prices relative to gasoline vehicles, more and more mainstream consumers will choose electric vehicles.”
These immediately tangible factors for a buyer - cost, range, performance and tech versus the comparable ICE vehicle - are all increasingly heading in battery electric' vehicles' favour. It's having a strong influence on consumer preferences, even if they have no other reason to consider an EV like their positive impact on climate and air pollution.
Bumps in the road?
In conversation with Arstechnica, Kenneth Gillingham, Yale University economist and another co-author of the study, saw three main factors that could hinder the speed of the shift to EVs.
The first is that automakers might struggle to serve consumers with enough choice in their EV range. However, the IEA says there were five times more models available to consumers in 2021 than there were six years prior (that's since Season 1 of Formula E) - more than 300 different models in China, 184 in Europe and 65 in the US. This has no doubt ballooned in the two years since, too.
The second factor that might get in the way according to Gillingham is charging infrastructure, which has to keep pace with EV adoption.
Lastly, he states the rate of technology development study the paper's findings were partially based on, from the National Academies, could be too optimistic.
Nevertheless, despite the reservations the current rate of change speaks for itself, with EVs fast becoming the preferred choice at the dealership.