Sales figures of electric vehicles (EVs) in the last 5 years are very promising. By the end of 2015, more than 1 million plug-in EVs have been sold worldwide which is an increase for about 40 percent since 2010. Most of these vehicles were sold in the United States (c. 400,000), followed by China (c. 260,000) and Japan (c. 130,000). Plug-ins sold in European countries account for over 30 percent of the global sales, with the Netherlands, Norway and France taking the top 3 positions. With some 50,000 sold plug-in EVs, the UK takes the 4th place.
Despite the encouraging figures, EVs (excluding hybrids) account for less than 0.1 percent of the global vehicle stock, currently estimated to be about 1.2 billion. That share is expected to increase in the future but much more needs to be done to encourage a larger number of drivers to go electric. In our opinion, a strategic plan needs to be developed to deal with issues that are responsible for such a low share of EVs in the global vehicle stock:
Energy sources. At the moment of writing, fossil fuels are the source of more than 60 percent of all electricity generated in the world. And since EVs are powered by the very same electricity, they are not as clean as they could have been if renewable energy sources would account for a larger share. The good news is that the share of fossil fuels has been falling while the share of renewables has been increasing but at very different rates across different countries.
Charging infrastructure. Things are improving in this segment as well but in most countries, the charging infrastructure is still in the development phase. Combined with limited range of EVs, inadequately developed charging infrastructure discourages a large number of drivers from going electric.
Cost. With the exception of a few countries, driving an electric vehicle is a lot cheaper than its fossil fuel-powered counterpart. However, going electric requires a higher initial purchase cost.
Range anxiety. Even though the technology has progressed dramatically, EVs are still being associated with limited range. This has been fueling the so-called range anxiety or the fear that the battery will run out before reaching the end destination or charging station.