Passenger electric vehicle sales are set to jump over 80% in 2021 to 5.6 million units off the back of unprecedented industry and government commitments around the world over the last two years, according to a special report published by BloombergNEF this week.
The Zero-Emission Vehicles Factbook, published at the request of the UK COP26 Presidency and in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, documents the progress that has been made towards global net-zero emissions in the road transport sector, and shows that “the future is brighter than ever for zero-emission vehicles.”
According to the Factbook, sales of passenger electric vehicles (including battery electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles) were 140% higher in the first half of 2021 than the same period in 2019, reaching 7% of global passenger vehicle sales. This compares with just 2.6% in 2019, the year of the last UN Climate Change Conference.
The total global fleet of passenger electric and fuel cell vehicles now totals nearly 13 million, of which 8.5 million are true zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), either battery electric or fuel cell (still, fuel cell vehicles account for a fraction of that total). The latter figure is up from just 4.6 million at the time of COP25.
At the same time, by 1H 2021, the global fleet of zero-emission buses has increased by 22% since 2019, and BNEF expects 18% of all municipal buses on the road to be zero-emission at the end of 2021.
Moving forward, the “future looks brighter than ever”, BNEF says. A review of industry outlooks shows that zero-emission vehicle forecasts have been raised across the board.
BNEF’s own forecast for the global ZEV fleet in 2040 has been raised from 495 million vehicles in its 2019 forecast, to 677 million in its 2021 Electric Vehicle Outlook. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has raised its 2030 battery electric vehicle fleet forecast by 7% since 2019, while the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has raised its 2040 estimate for the global electric and fuel cell vehicle fleet by 11%.
Underpinning these stronger forecasts are a range of factors, including improving battery technology and costs, faster roll-outs of charging infrastructure, a wider range of vehicle models on offer to customers, and longer range and faster charging speeds available on the newest vehicles, according to BNEF.
The report launched in time for Transport Day of COP26, where a coalition of government and global car industry leaders working towards 100% zero-emission new car, van and HGV sales by 2040, come together, helping to keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
Commenting on the BNEF’s publication, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Accelerating towards a greener future is the UK’s key priority and I am delighted to see our tremendous efforts towards greening transport reflected in this report. Decarbonizing transport is key to conserving our planet and creating new UK jobs. Today marks a very proud moment in history as governments around the world come together behind 100% zero emission car, van and HGV sales by 2040.”
In an annex to the report, BNEF finds that the declaration, in combination with existing commitments, means that automakers committed to reaching 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 at the latest now account for 32% of the global auto market. It finds that similar national targets account for 20% of passenger vehicle sales.
US state-level targets to phase out sales of internal combustion engines now cover a quarter of auto sales in the country (which currently does not have a national phase-out target), BNEF estimates. Additionally, the combined national targets, ICE phase-out targets and interim ZEV sales targets of China, India and the US reach nearly 41% of the global passenger vehicle market. This is up from just 8% in 2019.
“Sales of internal combustion engine vehicles need to stop around 2035 to get global road transport to net zero by 2050,” said Aleksandra O’Donovan, EV analyst at BloombergNEF and lead author of the report. “This report highlights the remarkable progress that has been made towards this goal in the last two years, powered by increasing ambitions of leading governments and vehicle manufacturers. However, there is still a large gap to fill if we are to meet the 2035 deadline globally.”