Earth now has more than 2 million electric cars


30% of US buyers consider electric cars; only 3% buy. Can this change?

But the gains are overshadowed by the distance that electric cars still have to go—although more than 2 million EVs now travel the world’s roads, they only make up 0.2 percent of the total light-duty passenger vehicle share around the world. And the growth of the number of electric cars on the roads actually slowed in 2016 compared to 2015 (60 percent in 2016 versus 77 percent in 2015), leaving policy makers and sustainable growth advocates wondering how to continue to grow the global fleet to meet climate change mitigation goals. Transportation makes up a significant portion of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—14 percent globally according to a 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In the US, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions.

The transportation sector is a stubborn one to clean up, too. An example can be found in California, where even as carbon-reducing policies have brought GHG emissions from the energy sector down to 20 percent, transportation still currently makes up 40 percent of the state’s emissions, according to a recent statement from the state’s Public Utilities commissioner.

Alternative-fuel vehicles are important to hitting emissions goals, but the IEA report says that currently, there is not enough momentum behind plug-in cars without strong policies incentivizing adoption, like tax credits and zero-emissions vehicles lanes. Electric vehicles (including both battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) “still have a long way to go before reaching deployment scales capable of making a significant dent in the development of global oil demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” the IEA report states.

China is leading

The report (PDF) showed that China leapfrogged the US in 2016 to become the country with the most electric passenger vehicles. Although EVs only made up 1.5 percent of the country's national fleet, more than 40 percent of the EVs sold in the world in 2016 were sold in China (twice as many as were sold in the US). The country also has 200 million electric two-wheelers, 3 million to 4 million low-speed electric vehicles, and more than 300,000 electric buses, none of which were counted in the IEA’s official EV numbers.

Scandinavian and northern European countries have the most EVs on the road when it comes to market share, however. “With a 29 percent market share, Norway has incontestably achieved the most successful deployment of electric cars in terms of market share, globally,” the IEA wrote. The Netherlands follows with 6.4 percent EV market share, and 3.4 percent of Sweden’s cars are electric.

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