London – There was a 54% increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the world’s roads to exceed exceeded 3 million in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
In the latest edition of its Global Electric Vehicles Outlook report, the IEA said China remained by far the largest electric car market in the world, accounting for half sold last year.
Nearly 580,000 electric cars were sold in China in 2017, a 72% increase from the previous year. The US had the second-highest, with about 280,000 cars sold, up from 160,000 in 2016.
Nordic countries remain leaders in market share. Electric cars accounted for 39% of new car sales in Norway, making it the world leader in electric vehicle (EV) market share. In Iceland, new EV sales were 12% of the total while the share reached 6% in Sweden.
Germany and Japan also saw strong growth, with sales more than doubling in both countries from their 2016 levels, the IEA stated.
Electric mobility is not limited to cars, the report went on to point out: in 2017, the stock of electric buses rose to 370,000 from 345,000 in 2016, and electric two-wheelers reached 250 million.
These markets are being driven almost entirely by China, which accounts for more than 99% of both electric bus and two-wheeler stock. However, IEA said registrations in Europe and India are also growing.
The growth of EVs has largely been driven by government policy, including public procurement programmes and financial incentives, according to the agency.
Other factors, it said, include tightened fuel-economy standards, regulations on emissions and recent progress of efforts to improve the performance and reduce the costs of lithium-ion batteries.
Looking forward, IEA said supportive policies and cost reductions are likely to lead to continued significant growth in the EV market.
The report includes scenarios projecting the number of electric cars to reach between 125 million and 220 million units by 2030.