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Electric vehicles: China the sales leader in 2024, according to the International Energy Agency

The difficulties in certain markets cannot be avoided.

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Electric vehicles: China the sales leader in 2024, according to the International Energy Agency

The difficulties in certain markets cannot be avoided. However: in its 2024 report on the global electric vehicle market (100% electric and plug-in hybrid), the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the dynamics of the sector will continue at the global level in the coming years

Growth in global sales of electric cars hit a high point in 2023, with an increase of 35%, to reach nearly 14 million units. Demand is largely concentrated in three areas: China (a little less than 60% of sales), Europe (a little less than 25%) and North America (10%). For 2024, the IEA anticipates that 17 million electric cars will be sold worldwide, which represents an increase of 25% compared to the previous year.

The majority of these vehicles will be sold in China, where the electric sector remains very dynamic. 10 million units will be sold there. The share of electric should rise to 45%! And growth will reach 25%. The IEA considers this to be an excellent performance in a less favorable context. “Despite the gradual elimination of purchasing subsidies over the past year, sales in China remain robust, a sign of a maturing market,” analyzes the international organization.

Electricity dynamics should be a little weaker in the United States, with an increase of 20% over the whole year. The first quarter is however lower, at 15%. Above all, it is mainly driven by plug-in hybrids, up 50%. Conversely, “the share of sales of battery vehicles seems to have declined somewhat in recent months,” points out the IEA.

Among the major markets, Europe will encounter the most significant difficulties this year. Already in 2023, “the gradual elimination of several purchase subsidies in Germany has generally slowed the growth of electric vehicle sales,” underlines the report. Consequence: “the share of electric car sales increased from 30% in 2022 to 25% in 2023”. In the first quarter of 2024, and across Europe, growth in electric vehicle sales was only 5%, slightly higher than that of overall car sales. And for the year as a whole, IEA experts expect a modest increase – less than 10% – in sales of electric vehicles compared to the previous year.

The obstacles to maintaining very rapid growth are known. These are the availability of batteries, the pressing need for sufficient charging infrastructure – particularly fast – and the price of these electric cars. On this last point, state aid can partly offset the additional cost. But some governments are starting to revise them downwards, as Germany has shown. The solution involves lowering the selling price of these electric vehicles. Chinese dynamism comes partly from there. “In China, it is estimated that more than 60% of electric cars were already cheaper than their thermal equivalent,” rejoice the IEA experts. On the other hand, electric vehicles “remain 10% to 50% more expensive than thermal vehicles in Europe and the United States”.

The IEA, however, is confident for the future, banking on the fact that “substantial investments in the electric vehicle supply chain, continued political support and a reduction in the price of electric vehicles and their batteries should produce changes substantial in the years to come.” Enough to envisage a strong increase in the share of these electric cars in the vehicle fleet. “Nearly one in three cars on the road in China should be electric by 2030, and nearly one in five in the United States and in the countries of the European Union,” estimates Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA. This change will have major consequences for both the automotive industry and the energy sector.” Because that is the objective of this major industrial change: to reduce global oil consumption.

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