Motor Mouth: Can electric vehicles sell without incentives?

David Booth
May 15th, 2020

It wasn’t a banner year for electric vehicles in 2019. After a six-year run typified by near exponential growth — EVs averaged an incredible 60 per cent year-over-year increase from 2012 to 2018 — worldwide sales of plug-in vehicles have stagnated. Oh, pretty much any other segment in the auto business would have gladly welcomed 2019’s five per cent increase in new PHEV and BEV registrations. But the predictions that foresee electrification supplanting internal combustion by 2040 — or even 2030 — have all been predicated on sales maintaining that phenomenal growth. Every year, year after year.

Indeed, on a worldwide basis, EV sales seem to have leveled off. According to Automotive World, 2.259 million new BEVs and PHEVs were registered last year. That’s roughly 2.5 percent of the 90 million-plus vehicles sold last year. For the record, constant five per cent annual sales increases would see the EV market share reach about four per cent of the worldwide light vehicle market by 2030, and just under seven per cent by 2040. Again, not exactly the worldwide dominance that has, until now, been assumed fait already accompli.

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