What’s happening with electric cars?

You may have heard of the Tesla Roadster, Toyota Prius and maybe even the Mahindra e2o (previously known as the REVA), but how much do you know about electric cars or electric vehicles (EVs)?

The market: In 2017, global sales of EVs crossed 1 million units for the first time ever and total number of electric cars on the road crossed 3 million, but that is a small percentage of total cars on the road. The International Energy Agency (IEA) thinks that there will be 125 million electric vehicles on the road globally in 2030, when the total number of cars powered by fossil fuels will be a little less than 2 billion! 

Credit: International Credit Agency

What are EVs? Most of the cars we see on the road today have internal combustion engines (ICE) that run on fossil fuels such as gas or diesel. EVs on the other hand use electric motors and are much better for the environment if the electricity that charges them comes from clean and renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Why are electric cars important? Due to global concerns about climate change and increasing air pollution, the auto industry has been under pressure from consumers and governments alike to become more environmentally friendly. How? By producing cars that have high performance, are more fuel-efficient, and are charaterized by low-emissions.  With reducing battery prices, support from governments and commitments from top car manufacturers, the future of cars does look electric!

Countries that are considering bans on ICE only vehicle sales

Credit: Thomson Reuters


Subsidies and Incentives: Subsidies are incentives such as discounts, that are provided to help industries to grow. Governments have have been providing subsidies to help the EV market. In some countries like Norway, those purchasing EVs can for example pay lower tolls, and are charged lower taxes on purchasing these cars. With an improvement in technology, some expect EV costs to drop to the point that they will no longer need to be subsidized by 2024. Daimler, Volkswagen, Nissan, and Volvo are some of the leading automakers that have made plans to electrify their vehicles over the next decade.

Only a handful of countries have significant market share: EVs have significant market share in countries such as Norway, Iceland, Sweden, China, Germany, U.S. and Japan.

So why aren’t there more electric vehicles on the roads? Compared to regular cars, it is still more expensive to manufacture EVs because some rare or scarce materials such as cobalt and lithium are required. The time needed to fully charge the cars is quite high and because they have a limited range, you would need to stop to recharge your EV frequently on longer journeys. Unfortunately since the EV industry is still growing and developing, there are not nearly enough charging stations available at present.

What can we expect from this market by 2040?

  • It is estimate that by 2040, 55% of all new car sales and 33% of the global fleet will be electric
  • China is and will continue to be the largest EV market in the world till 2040
  • India is aiming to have at least 15% market share for electric vehicles in the coming 5 years

Thomas Edison and an electric car. Courtesy of the Smithsonian

Did you know?

Scottish inventor Robert Anderson invented the first crude electric carriage powered by non-rechargeable cells all the way back in 1832!




Written by: Zarir De Vitre. Zarir is a Mumbai based sustainability consultant. He enjoys drinking tea, playing with Lego, and football and basketball.