What does the future hold for electric vehicles?

29 Apr 2021

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A new report shows that global electric car sales jumped by 40pc in 2020, with expectations for further adoption as governments set out plans for emissions reductions.

While 2020 proved a struggle for the automotive industry, the global movement towards net-zero emissions means it could be time for electric vehicles to shine.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), global electric car sales jumped by 40pc in 2020 with a record 3m new electric cars registered.

The Global EV Outlook report said that 2020 also saw Europe overtake China for the first time in the global electric car market, with registrations in Europe more than doubling to 1.4m, while China increased by 9pc to 1.2m.

Registrations for other electric vehicles such as buses and trucks also expanded in major markets, reaching global stocks of 600,000 and 31,000 respectively, according to the IEA report.

Recent months have seen a number of major car manufacturers pledging big moves into the electric vehicles space.

In February, Jaguar announced its plans to become an all-electric car brand by 2025, while Ford plans to be fully electric in Europe by 2030. And today (29 April), Reuters reported that Huawei is in talks to take control of a small domestic automaker’s electric vehicle unit.

Reducing emissions

The IEA report said the global move towards net-zero carbon emissions has played a major role in the resilience of EVs during the turbulence of the pandemic.

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It said by the end of 2020, more than 20 countries had announced plans to ban the sale of conventional cars or mandated all new sales to be zero-emission vehicles.

This comes amid renewed pledges around the world for reaching the goal of being climate-neutral by 2050. Earlier this month, the EU reached a landmark deal on a climate law, just ahead of a global climate summit in which US president Joe Biden pledged to reduce US emissions by half by the end of the decade.

Many countries have strengthened policies around CO2 emissions, which include electric vehicle mandates. In Ireland, the Government originally hoped to have 950,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030. However, research last year suggested that this target was unlikely to be met.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said while current EV sales trends are very encouraging, the current climate and energy goals require faster market uptake.

“Governments should now be doing the essential groundwork to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by using economic recovery packages to invest in battery manufacturing and the development of widespread and reliable charging infrastructure,” he said.

Chip shortage still a problem

The report comes at a time when the automotive industry is dealing with a global chip shortage that could see car makers lose $61bn in sales.

While the sales trends from the IEA are encouraging, stocks in electric vehicle companies were down in April 2021 due to ongoing concerns around the shortage of semiconductors.

While Ford and General Motors both have big plans in the electric vehicle market, they have also announced a series of factory shutdowns and production suspensions due to supply constraints.

Jenny Darmody is the deputy editor of Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com