Despite 2019 being a sluggish year for the global automobile industry, electric car sales continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in the years before. According to the latest edition of the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook, electric passenger car sales climbed to 2.1 million last year, bringing the global stock to 7.2 million electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars.
Accounting for more than half of electric cars sold globally in 2019, China remains by far the largest electric vehicle market, followed by Europe with 560,000 and the United States with roughly 330,000 electric passenger cars sold last year. China’s outstanding position is also reflected in the number of electric vehicles in use. According to the IEA, China accounts for 3.35 million of the global total of 7.2 million, which is more than twice the number of electric cars currently driving on American roads.
As the following chart shows, the past decade has been one of rapid growth for electric cars, even though we’re still at the beginning of the transition to cleaner, more sustainable mobility. Despite the fact that the number of electric passenger cars in use globally increased from close to zero to 7.2 million between 2010 and 2019, electric cars and plug-in hybrids accounted for just 2.6 percent of global passenger car sales last year.
For 2020, the IEA expects electric cars to outperform the automobile industry as a whole, as sales of electric cars are expected to be in line with last year’s total, while the global passenger car market is expected to decline by 15 percent due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.