Is the electric car a toy for a rich country? For the moment, clearly yes.
The electric car market continues – for the moment – to develop, despite some upheavals linked most often to political decisions sometimes taken a little hastily.
However, by observing the sector on a daily basis, a little music regularly tickles our eardrums, urging us to take off our blinders for a few minutes and take a closer look at the state of the sector outside our usual Euro-Sino scope. -American, and to look elsewhere.
Because if you follow electric car news, here and elsewhere, you will probably not have missed it, even if you haven’t really noticed it, that we are almost always talking about the same geographical areas, where the market is being built: in order, China, Europe, and the USA.
However, is it the desert in the rest of the world? Is the electric car resolutely a Western bobo and Chinese geek thing fueled by its own industry? What is happening in other regions like Latin America, Asia or Africa? Is the market taking off, or is it the last concern of populations for whom making ends meet is the primary concern? In these regions, do we believe elsewhere in a carbon-free future of transport, or does it remain a hobby of rich countries? It’s not easy to have very precise, documented figures that can be cross-checked, but we still have some elements to get the beginning of an idea.
13 million EVs sold worldwide in 2023, or rather in China, Europe and the USA
No official or verifiable figures have been released yet, but global sales of electric cars are estimated to exceed 13 million in 2022, recording an increase of more than 30% compared to 2022. China, Europe and the United States accounts for approximately 95% of global electric car sales.
IEA, Electric car sales, 2016-2023, IEA, Paris IEA. Licence: CC BY 4.0
This dynamism is not entirely the result of chance. A little-talked about initiative is one of the driving forces behind the development of electric cars in China, Europe and the United States. For once the three giants – and also belligerent ones – manage to agree on something, it does not hurt to salute it. Thus, the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) was set up to help accelerate the adoption of electric cars around the world. The EVI is a multi-governmental policy forum established in 2010 under the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) which aims to better understand the challenges associated with electric mobility and to help governments address them. The EVI also serves as a platform for knowledge sharing between government policymakers and other partners on important topics such as charging infrastructure and grid integration, as well as battery supply chains for electric vehicles. The EVI includes 16 countries, which are Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway , Poland, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Canada, China and the United States are co-leaders of the initiative.
We see that European countries are in the majority in this consortium, but we are pleasantly surprised to note that it also counts India, Chile and New Zealand among its active members. For the rest, the list of participants closely resembles that of the richest countries on the planet in terms of OECD rankings or GDP per capita.
So, the electric car, a rich person’s thing? For the moment, we must recognize that yes, clearly. You only need to look at the percentages of electric car registrations compared to the total number of registrations in 2023 to be convinced, if doubt remains. According to Global EV Outlook 2023, Norway is still well ahead with 85.4% of EVs in new registrations, followed respectively by Iceland with 54.4%, Sweden with 54.3%, the Netherlands with 30, 4% and Denmark with 29.7%. France would be ninth with 26.5%[*], while China is seventh with 27.9% and the USA sixteenth with 20.2%. Japan, renowned for being in the process of masterfully missing the shift to electric, is in nineteenth position with still 18.5% of registrations. Honor is safe.
Here too, the Top 20 looks a lot like the ranking of the richest countries.
Latin America, Asia and Africa far behind
What is happening elsewhere? For the moment not much, even if some signals – still very weak – show the beginnings of a tremor. Emerging and developing economies represent only a tiny fraction of the global market. Although demand for electric cars is increasing in these countries, sales remain low.
Some Latin American countries, such as Costa Rica, are starting to show a significant share of electric vehicle sales (4.2% of registrations in 2022), particularly in the SUV category. This suggests a growing interest in electric mobility in the region. That being said, there is still work to be done. The adoption rate or market share of electric cars in the big three countries of Brazil, Argentina and Mexico is currently still very low. Brazil recorded around 1,000 electric car sales in 2022, representing a market share of just 0.1%. Argentina recorded around 1,500 electric car sales in 2022, representing a market share of 0.2%. Mexico recorded around 6,000 electric car sales in 2022, representing a market share of 0.4%.
Same story in Eastern and Central Europe. Russia ? Peanuts, we are talking about 0.2% of registrations in 2023.
In Asia, apart from China, other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and India are also starting to implement policies and incentives to promote the adoption of electric vehicles.
In Africa, although the adoption rate is currently lower, some countries are starting to develop strategies and targets for electric mobility. For example, Ghana recently published a strategy containing specific targets for electric vehicle sales by 2025, 2030 and 2050.
If the market saturates or plateaus in the best-off countries, we know what remains to be done for manufacturers: a boulevard awaits them in the rest of the world. Provided that public policies and populations are there. Which is far from won. Especially since automobile brands are counting on these countries to continue to sell thermal power… in order to finance the enormous investments required for electrification in their countries.
Did you say “squaring the circle”?
[*] AVERE France rather gives a market share of 20.6%
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