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Four takeaways on the future of the global EV market

Great Wall Motor Ltd.’s Ora Good Cat electric vehicles are charged at the company’s charging station in Bangkok, Thailand, on January 18.  (Luke Duggleby/Bloomberg)
By Nathaniel Bullard Bloomberg

BloombergNEF released its seventh annual Electric Vehicle Outlook on Thursday showing that EVs are the only segment of the automobile market that is growing.

The report offers reams of new data and projections around what’s become a familiar story: EV sales are growing at double digits each year and are now the only growth area in the global passenger vehicle market.

China is the largest single market for EVs, and it’s also becoming a significant exporter of them.

Additional EV adoption will mean much more extraction and processing of key materials like lithium.

Bloomberg News and the Hyperdrive newsletter have covered the report’s key findings. Here are four additional takeaways:

EV sales are up everywhere

Sales of passenger electric vehicles increased globally by more than 60% in 2022.

They also increased in every major market. In India and Southeast Asia, traditionally small markets for EVs, sales were up more than 200%.

They rose by 100% in Japan, close to 100% in China, 90% in Australia, 50% in the U.S. and 17% in Europe.

What’s more, electric car sales rose against the backdrop of an essentially flat global auto market – sales of new cars across all powertrains rose only 2% year-on-year – and a declining market for new cars with internal combustion engines.

Among the wealthy auto markets, only Australia saw increasing sales of ICE cars last year, and even then they rose only 1%.

Southeast Asia and India are the only two markets where both ICE and EV sales increased year over year.

It’s worth watching to see how long it takes for their triple-digit EV growth rates to reverse sales trends for ICE cars.

EVs catching solar, wind, hydro

Thanks to decades of deployment of hydropower, nuclear power and renewables like wind and solar, a significant share of global power generation is now zero-emissions.

Last year, more than 40% of global electricity was zero-carbon.

Passenger vehicles? Not so much. Last year, EVs made up only 1.7% of passenger vehicle kilometers driven.

That’s a sign that EVs have a lot of catching up to do. But EVs can catch up with a following wind, so to speak.

The power sector is continuing to decarbonize and by 2050, it will be more than 80% zero-carbon.

EVs will account for an increasing percentage of global driving while their energy input becomes cleaner every year.

By mid-century, these two trend lines will have nearly converged.

More than three-quarters of all driving in 2050 will be in EVs, and the power that tops them up will be more than four-fifths zero-emission.

Long range

A half-decade ago, there were only nine electric vehicle options available globally with at least 249 miles of range.

Last year there were more than 200. The number of long-range EV trims (prepackaged sets of features for a particular car model) has risen in every market, but one market dominates: China, which had only six long-range EV trims in 2018 and now has 141.

North America, which had eight long-range trims in 2018, has 56 today; Europe, which started with the same number that China did, has 61.These long-range EVs price at a premium.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s battery electric vehicles in Europe and the U.S. cost 30% more than their ICE counterparts.

BNEF’s advanced transport team expects automakers to roll out a number of lower-range, and lower-priced, EVs in the future as their electric sales commitments become more pressing.

Fuel cells

Fuel-cell-electric vehicles powered by hydrogen have been on the market for years.

They are also a stubbornly small market, with fewer than 16,000 sold worldwide in 2022.

Not only that, but this small market is intensely regional. Korea accounted for two-thirds of last year’s passenger fuel cell market, followed by the U.S. with 18%.