Sales of full-electric vehicles have soared this year because of strong growth in Europe and China, and also because of the microchip shortage as automakers prioritize sales of emissions-compliant and higher-priced vehicles, analyst firm LMC Automotive said.
"BEVs (battery-electric vehicles) are really starting to pull clear of other technologies," including full-hybrids and plug-in hybrids, powertrain analyst Al Bedwell said Thursday during an LMC web event.
But the rate of growth could slow in the next few years as emissions regulations become less pressing and the chip shortage eases, freeing up production for diesel and internal-combustion cars. In addition, raw materials issues, especially for lithium, could be a headwind, LMC analysts said.
In 2020 there were 2.1 million full-electric cars sold globally, a figure that will jump to 4.1 million this year, LMC said. Of that additional volume, 1.155 million will come from China, 453,000 from Europe and 283,000 from North America. The EV market grew 141 percent -- in an overall market up 12 percent.
China has refocused on incentivizing EVs and investing in charging infrastructure, Bedwell said, and sales are up 212 percent this year through September.
"China is driving this year's leap," he said. "Once again it's the powerhouse in terms of global growth in the EV sector. Europe can't compete in terms of BEV affordability and infrastructure."
The best-selling full-electric car in China continues to be the Wuling Hongguang minicar. Through September, Wuling brand sales were 250,860, a 972 percent increase year over year. Tesla was the second-best selling electric brand, with 238,975 sales in China, a 255 percent increase.
In Europe, there were nearly 800,000 full-electric cars sold through September, with full-year sales estimated at 1.18 million, representing 60 percent growth over 2021.
Bedwell said the fourth quarter should be especially strong. At the same time, plug-in hybrid sales, at 757,000 through September, will be up 51 percent for the year at about 955,000 he said.
Electrified vehicles have benefited from continued government incentives – France just announced its intention to continue a 6,000-euro bonus on new EVs – and the need to meet the EU's 2020-21 CO2 target of 95 grams per km.