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Electric vehicle numbers hit 1.3m as costs predicted to beat petrol cars

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The number of electric vehicles on roads around the globe nearly doubled in 2014-15 to well above one million, new analysis has revealed, with China alone adding more than 200,000 to its fleet for the year.

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A report from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, published on Friday, shows that the number of electrically powered cars increased worldwide by almost 750,000 to around 1.3 million over the 12 month period.

In its latest assessment of developments in electric mobility, ZSW researchers recorded around 550,000 new registrations in 2015, up 68 per cent from the previous year when 330,000 new EVs were sold.

The research follows last week’s report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which predicted that sales of electric vehicles would hit 41 million by 2040, representing 35 per cent of new light duty vehicle sales – almost 90 times the number for 2015.

The BNEF research estimated that the growth of EVs – driven by further big reductions in battery prices – would see them represent a quarter of the cars on the road by 2040, displacing 13 million barrels of crude oil a day, and using 1,900TWh of electricity, equivalent to nearly 8 per cent of global electricity demand in 2015.

The BNEF study’s calculations on total cost of ownership show BEVs becoming cheaper on an unsubsidised basis than internal combustion engine cars by the mid-2020s, even if the latter continue to improve their average mileage per gallon by 3.5 per cent a year.

The research assumes that a BEV with a 60kWh battery will travel 200 miles between charges. The first generation of these long-range, mid-priced BEVs is set to hit the market in the next 18 months with the launch of the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3.

“In the next few years, the total-cost-of-ownership advantage will continue to lie with conventional cars, and we therefore do not expect EVs to exceed 5 per cent of light duty vehicle sales in most markets – except where subsidies make up the difference. However, that cost comparison is set to change radically in the 2020s,” said BNEF senior analyst and author of the study, Salim Morsy.

For now, however, the ZSW report finds the US has the world’s biggest EV fleet overall, with a total of 410,000 registered; although Norway retains the title for the greatest EV percentage share of all cars nationwide – around 3 per cent of some 2.64 million cars.

China’s fleet of EVs, meanwhile, tripled in number to 307,000, while a Chinese EV manufacturer earned a spot among the market leaders for the first time in 2015, with 31,900 BYD Qin sold.

Otherwise, Tesla’s Model S took the top spot among new EV registrations in 2015, with 42,730 vehicles sold in the year. The US car maker’s prestige offering edged out two Japanese models, the Mitsubishi Outlander (41,080) and the Nissan Leaf (40,270) in the annual rankings, the report said.

2015 was also the first year that a German-made electric vehicle model appeared on the list of all-time best-selling EVs, with a total of 36,550 BMWi3s now on the road. The Nissan Leaf heads up this list with 193,260 sold since 2010.

The report also found that while EV customers in countries like China, Japan and France bought predominantly domestic models, this trend was also on the upswing in Germany thanks to a growing number of German EV models (just over half of the 23,460 electric vehicles sold in Germany in 2015 were built by German manufacturers).

“The number of electric vehicles manufactured in the past year, 550,000, clearly indicates that industrialisation is picking up momentum,” said Professor Werner Tillmetz, a member of ZSW’s board of directors and head of the Electrochemical Energy Technologies division.

”With the continued high growth rates, electric mobility-centered value creation is rapidly gaining in importance,” he said.

“Our calculations show that just 1.7 per cent of green electricity produced in 2015 in Germany would be enough to operate one million electric vehicles,” said ZSW researcher Andreas Püttner.

“And everyone in Germany can draw on green electricity, even for his electric car, and thereby bring about an energy transition in the transportation sector.”

ZSW researchers tallied cars with battery-powered electric drives, range extenders and plug-in hybrids. They did not count motorcycles, trucks, buses or full and mild hybrid vehicles. The evaluation is based partly on data sourced from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority as well as from government agencies and NGOs abroad.


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  • john

    Starting from a very low base EV will be not much of the total sales
    However lets be realistic here because of the low cost to use an EV these vehicles will very soon be very demanded especially in large city areas.
    Guess where most people live yes in large city areas and they drive a short distance.
    So with out a doubt EV have a market now, not when battery prices fall, it is far more economic to utilise the high efficiency of an electric vehicle that an ICE in a city environment.
    I think the battery makers have to make more because the demand is going to be pretty large.
    As to the vehicle manufactures you have a ready made market I would send you a hint get off your thumbs and get those vehicles out in the market.

    • Mike Dill

      Tesla has been doubling production each year for the past few years, and is building a battery factory to get the costs down. If this trend continues globally we will get many more EV’s on the road than BNEF forecasts by 2040. What most people do not consider is that while the batteries will eventually wear out, the motors and drive system for an EV is much more reliable. My next EV will probably be the last car I will ever buy.

      • john

        Both true with Tesla plus the other manufactures now making EV that are not just to meet minimum requirements but real 200 mile abilities which are more than adequate for commute requirements.
        The drive chain of course will last a very long time I do remember an example of an electric motor that was built early 50’s still running in a show room in the 70’s.
        I think your vision that the next EV will by your last vehicle purchase to be correct perhaps the only updates will be software related.

        • DogzOwn

          Sure makes sense that EV’s easily good for 10 years first owner but problem is so many cars for business, leased for just 3 years. You reckon Greg Hunt’s lease mob, using ARENA taxpayer money, will make finance attractive with 10 year term? Tell ‘I’m ‘es dreaming’!

          • john

            I am not across exactly what are the rules to do with writing off a lease agreement with a company and tax compliance
            As I remember it you can put in your expenses to do with company expenses so if you lease a vehicle and it costs you x dollars you mealy put that in the column it does not matter what type of vehicle it is

          • DogzOwn

            My thinking is about EV higher price barrier, which can be made more attractive if leasing companies recognise that, because of so little wear and tear, should be higher long term value, so make lease term 10years and interest rate down towards mortgage. Then new EV’s will be very affordable.

          • brunurb

            The great thing about leases is that it will provide a good boost in availability of used EVS for people who can’t afford a new one :)

      • neroden

        I figure eventually my Tesla will probably crash. But until then it should be able to keep going forever.

        Unless it becomes impossible to find replacement parts because technology has moved on so much. But I think there will be “classic car” people making sure it’s possible.