Published in Transportation

Global disparities emerge in electric car ownership

by on22 April 2021

Russia, South America and Africa falling behind

Europe and China dominate the world market for electric cars, but there are still very few electrified vehicles on the roads in large markets like Russia, South America and Africa, according to a study conducted by the Munich Mobility Show.

Europe sold more new electrified vehicles than China for the first time in 2020 and between them, the two markets are home to more than 70 percent of the 9.9 million electrified cars sold so far, the study shows.

Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the European Union almost trebled to over a million vehicles last year, accounting for more than 10 percent of overall sales. 

The Munich Mobility Show looked at vehicle registration data from a number of sources and found that through 2020, China had 4.2 electric vehicles on the road, Europe had 3.2 million and the United States had 1.7 million.

New electric vehicle sales rose in all major markets in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic, except for the US market where sales fell six percent.

While 80 per cent of the electrified vehicles sold so far in China and 79 percent of those sold in the United States were battery-electric models, only 54 percent of those sold in Europe - including the European Union, European Free Trade Association countries and the United Kingdom - were battery-electric, as the continent is still fairly reliant on sales of plug-in hybrids.

Plug-in hybrids face an uncertain future in the EU as policymakers are considering regulations that could make them uneconomical for carmakers to produce. 

Norway, with a population of five million and strong support for electric cars is an unparalleled success, with a cumulative total of 433,609 electric cars sold so far and new sales of more than 105,000 units in 2020.

Russia, with a population of around 145 million, only sold 1,760 electrified cars through 2020.

Cumulative electric car registrations through 2020 in South America, a continent with a population of more than 420 million, were below 18,000.

And the only registrations in Africa, a continent that is home to 1.2 billion people, were exclusively in South Africa and totalled just 1,509 cars through 2020.

Last modified on 22 April 2021
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