International electric vehicle (EV) sales grew globally by 41% in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global EV Outlook 2021 report released recently.

The IEA has published the Global EV Outlook annually since 2013 with the latest report profiling 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads at the end of 2020.

A highlight of this latest report is that EV sales jumped by 41% in 2020 despite the pandemic-related worldwide downturn in car sales in which global car sales dropped 6% – and this trajectory is expected to continue, with the first sales quarter of 2021 continuing in this trend.

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South Africa ranked fifth globally in the ratio of public electric vehicle (EV) chargers to electric vehicles in 2020. Only Korea, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia and the Netherlands have more chargers per EV than the southern African state.

February 2021 saw that battery-electric vehicle (BEV) registrations overtook those of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) registrations locally. This milestone marks the advancements of battery technology in the EV space and growing local consumer confidence in the range offered in newer generation BEV’s with less reliance on internal combustion engine hybrid technology.

In the same month, SA also had its first registration of a plug-in hybrid Ferrari, the SF90.

“Electric vehicle adoption remains key within automotive market developments while also decarbonising the transport sector,” says uYilo eMobility programme director, Hiten Parmar. “It is clear that South Africa’s EV charging infrastructure has a good footprint for now based on the low volume of EVs in the country. However, greater policy implementation is the next step to improve wider e-mobility adoption.”

Last year electric vehicle sales grew to t3% of the World Vehicle Market as governments and large industries increasingly bring forward their long-term environmental and net-zero goals. Half of the global stock of EVs can be found in China, but in 2020 the largest increase in EV sales occurred in Europe, overtaking Chinese EV adoption for the first time.

In both the United States and China, government spending on e-mobility decreased but was increased in Europe in 2020, a year which also saw a 41% increase in the number of vehicle models available as an EV. Pure EV, or BEV, are in the majority in terms of availability, with larger vehicles being most often PHEV. In terms of driving range, there has been an increase in range in every new model since 2015 with 2020 indicating the start of a plateau with range settling around 350km.

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Both two- and three-wheeler EVs, buses and heavy trucks are most prolific in the Chinese market while vans enjoy a far wider global market distribution. The worldwide EV fleet is projected to grow from 11m vehicles currently to around 145m in the next decade and the demand for automotive batteries will grow 20-fold from current levels by 2030.

Government policy is a key element in accelerating EV adoption, both in terms of the 2020 sales growth and setting the trend for the next decade. The IEA have indicated the organisation will set out a roadmap for the entire energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – current trends, although increasing, will not attain this goal.

You can access the report online here