Will global electric car sales double in 2021 and tomorrow?

Few areas in the world of clean energy are as dynamic as electric mobility. “, underlines the International Energy Agency (IEA) in the preamble to its Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022 posted on May 23(1). This inventory, however, warns of threats to this market.

Sales doubled worldwide in 2021

In 2021, sales of electric cars (100% electric and plug-in hybrids) worldwide totaled 6.6 million copies, double the 2020 level,” with more electric cars sold each week than all of 2012 “.

In market share, electric cars accounted for nearly 10% of global passenger car sales in 2021, “ i.e. four times its market share in 2019 “, emphasizes the IEA. At the end of 2021, the Agency reported around 16.5 million electric cars in circulation worldwide, triple the number at the end of 2018.

And the momentum is confirmed in 2022, with nearly 2 million electric cars sold during the first quarter worldwide.” that is, 75% more than in the same period in 2021 “.

growth engines

The IEA recalls that this rapid development of electric vehicles is supported by supporting public policies: public funding linked to subsidies and incentives in favor of electric cars has ” nearly doubled in 2021 to nearly $30 billion ” in the world.

Many countries are setting ambitious targets for the electrification of their vehicle fleets or the “phasing out” of internal combustion engine vehicles. And car manufacturers are sometimes going even faster in that direction, with the IEA already reporting worldwide that nearly 450 electric car models are available on the market.

From a geographical point of view, China continues to play a central role in the development of electric cars, with this country accounting for half of the sales of these vehicles in 2021 (3.3 million, that is, more than all the sales of electric cars). electric utilities in the world during the year 2020). The other two major electromobility markets are Europe (2.3 million electric cars sold in 2021, i.e. 65% more than in 2020) and the United States (630,000 sales in 2021, growing after 2 years of decline) .

It should be noted that China occupies an even more predominant place in the electric bus and truck market.

Electric buses and trucks registrations in China and the rest of the world

“Warning”: the supply of critical materials for batteries

The accelerated development of electric vehicles during the Covid19 pandemic had already raised fears of problems in the supply of the raw materials needed to manufacture batteries, and ” the war in Ukraine created new pressures “. The IEA thus recalls that Russia supplies almost a fifth of high-purity nickel worldwide and that the price of lithium in May 2022 is more than 7 times higher than in early 2021.

Battery prices certainly dropped again in 2021 by 6% compared to 2020 – with an average of $132/kWh – but less rapidly than in previous years (the price drop was 13% in 2020 compared to 2019 ). And by 2022, the IEA estimates that batteries can ” become 15% more expensive than in 2021 if metal prices remain as high as they were in Q1, all other things being equal “.

The weight of electric car batteries on lithium and cobalt consumption

The IEA highlights that ” Pressure on the supply of critical materials will continue to increase as electrification of road transport increases to meet decarbonization ambitions “. In your scenario “APS” (Scenario of announced promisesbased on current commitments and which foresees a 30% share of electric models – excluding two-wheelers – in global vehicle sales by 2030), the Agency estimates that global lithium demand could be multiplied by 6 times by 2030, ” that would require the equivalent of 50 new medium-sized mines “.

It should also be noted that the IEA report underlines the weight of consumer preferences on these issues: SUVs, which represent almost half of the world’s electric models, require larger batteries for the same distance”, which puts additional pressure “.

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