Global EV market reaches 740,000 cars, new study finds

Analysis by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research reveals 320,000 new electric vehicle registrations in 2014 as car battery suppliers hit $2.17 billion in revenue.

green car
An electric car recharging the battery in downtown Milan, Italy. The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research reported the growth rate for the electric vehicle market is around 76 per cent and new registrations increased twofold each year since 2012. Image: Paolo Bona /

Germany’s Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemburg (ZSW) has released a report today revealing that the global market for electric vehicles (EV) now stands at 740,000 cars, with almost half (320,000) being registered in 2014.

This rapid growth has been spearheaded by a handful of market leaders, including the Nissan Leaf, Tesla’s Model S, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In and the Honda Fit EV, which dominated new registrations in 2014.

As a result of this growth in the EV sector, car battery suppliers generated revenues of €2 billion ($2.17 billion) last year, with the US market enjoying a particularly bullish year, growing 69 per cent to bring the number of EV’s on the road stateside to 290,000 – which is more than one-in-three globally.

China is the world’s third-most robust EV market, growing by around 54,000 vehicles in 2014 – a 120 per cent increase that leaves the country with close to 100,000 EVs on the road, just behind Japan, which has 110,000 EVs (growth rate of 45 per cent in 2014).

If the momentum of recent years continues unabated, the number of electric cars worldwide will exceed one million in just a few months.

Werner Tillmetz, ZSW’s head of electrochemical energy technologies division

The ZSW found that supportive policies in these three leading countries have helped accelerate EV adoption.

In China, for example, domestically made EVs are subsidized, making them cheaper to the end consumer, whereas Germany – in contrast – has no market incentives to encourage motorists to purchase an EV, resulting in just 11,700 new EV registrations last year, leaving the country in seventh position overall for EV adoption with around 29,600 cars.

As a percentage, EVs account for just 0.07 per cent of all cars in Germany, whereas across Scandinavia that figure is 1.6 per cent.

The report found that Nissan’s Leaf is far-and-away the most popular EV brand, with 150,000 Leaf models registered worldwide since its launch in 2010. Second in General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, with 75,000 vehicles registered, followed by 60,000 Toyota Prius’s.

Tesla’s Model S has been sold 50,000 times, way ahead of BMW’s i3, of which there are currently only 15,000 on the road globally, but the first German model to really impact the EV market. Indeed, the i3 has only been on the market for just over 12 months, and thus its market share is actually considered impressive in such a short space of time.

The growth rate for the EV market is around 76 per cent, according to ZSW, and the number of new EV registrations has increased twofold each year between 2012 and 2014.

“If the momentum of recent years continues unabated, the number of electric cars worldwide will exceed one million in just a few months,” said ZSW’s head of electrochemical energy technologies division, Werner Tillmetz.

As the ramped-up pace of EV manufacturing grabs the attention of the supplier industry, the market for lithium-ion batteries – currently the technology of choice for the leading EV producers – will develop in concordance with EV growth, believes Tillmetz.

Having generated revenues of €2 million in 2014, the li-ion battery market for EVs could be worth €15 billion ($16.2 billion) by 2020.

“The German industry should continue to invest in the development of batteries and tenaciously strive to close the value chain,” he added. “This way, Germany will be able to keep up with the leading nations and seize its export opportunities in an international market with a bright future.”

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