Published on April 17th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor


20 Million EVs By 2020 To Help Us Stay Below 2°C

April 17th, 2013 by  

This article originally appeared on RenewEconomy.
By Sophie Vorrath

Can global electric vehicle sales jump from around 100,000 in 2012 to 7 million a year by the end of the decade? That’s just one of the goals set by the International Energy Agency as part of a suite of clean energy measures aimed at limiting global warming to a best-case scenario of 2°C. And according to the IEA, it’s a goal within reach – as long as we have the right government policies, improved EV infrastructure and significantly lower battery costs.

According to its report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013, released today, the IEA’s 2°C scenario (2DS) target of 20 million EVs by 2020 means the rate of global sales growth must increase by 80 per cent per year.

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“This represents a rapid market introduction for EVs, at 10 per cent of total light-duty vehicle sales by 2020,” says the report. “This progress to 2020 is essential to set EV deployment on course for a more substantial role in the post-2025 period: the 2DS assumes stronger displacement of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles from the mid-2020s, with the EV share increasing sharply to half of new vehicles sales by 2050, together with fuel-cell vehicles.”

The good news is that, going by current sales growth rates, we’re on the right track for the 2020 target: around 100,000 plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs) and full-battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold globally in 2012 – more than double (130%) the number sold in 2011, the first year of widespread market introduction.

The not-so promising caveat, however, is that in order to maintain, or even build, on this momentum, the IEA warns that governments must continue and expand policies such as vehicle price incentives; including rebates or tax credits on vehicles, purchase subsidies, or exemptions from vehicle registration taxes or license fees. And EV battery prices, which have already halved over the past three years, must be cut by another 50 per cent.

The report says the ongoing cost reductions in battery development in 2012 had been “dramatic,” with prices dropping to around $US500-600/kWh by the end of the year. As an indication of what is to come, the IEA quotes US Department of Energy estimates that battery development costs are now at $US485/kWh of useable energy (not including profit or warranty costs).

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But the IEA estimates battery costs must be further reduced to around $US300/kWh to achieve cost parity with conventional cars, and to below $300/kWh to make EV ownership attractive enough to consumers to boost EV market penetration. “This last part of the cost curve is likely to be the hardest to scale,” says the report.

As for policy, the report points out that many countries have set ambitious targets for EV deployment by 2015-20 which, cumulatively, now match or exceed 2DS deployment objectives. But it also notes that this indicator of growing government ambition does not necessarily translate to more ambitious manufacturer production targets.

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For this to happen, says the IEA report, manufacturers need clear and stable incentive frameworks “with a timeframe long enough to ensure adequate return on investment,” rather than the current standard timeframes of only one or two years.

The report also notes that 2012 also saw a breakthrough in charging technology for EVs – “a vital measure to boost consumer confidence and lessen anxiety over vehicle range” – with Volvo’s development of a three-phase, on-board, fast EV charger, set to come onto the market this year. With a charge time of 1.5 hours, the charger operates six times as fast as current on-board devices.

The report also cites Tesla Model S being named 2013 Car of the Year by the American magazine Motor Trend as another “milestone for public confidence” in EVs, marking the first time a non-gasoline powered vehicle has received the award. The Chevy Volt/Ampera also succeeded the BEV Nissan LEAF as the European Car of the Year.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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  • RSMills

    Everything seems to becoming together. Light weighting of vehicles, lowering wind drag (see x car winner), ever improving of battery tech. price dropping for PV panels. The ability to build homes that are energy generators for home and an EV. The next 10 years will reinvent society the same way that the light bulb and and the horseless carriage did over 100 years ago.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I totally agree. I think in 2023 we’ll look back at 2013 as a rather primitive period in terms of how we power our lives.

    • Agreed.

      It’s a shame to see, however, that so many people still don’t have a sense for the possibility of technological revolution — illogically opposed to it, confused by outgoing industry confusionists, skeptical about our ability to take big steps, set in thinking that the technology today is more or less the best we’ll ever have. Hard to understand the limited thinking of such people.

      But anyway, yes, the change going on right now is amazing, so much fun to watch. 😀

  • Scott Brechmacher

    It’s disappointing that there is no mention in this article of the fuels that are used to provide all of that extra electricity to run those EVs. If we don’t fundamentally change how we are generating the majority of our electricity, than we’re really only trading oil for coal and natural gas which isn’t necessarily an improvement over oil when it comes to climate change.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Can’t cover everything in one short piece.

      EVs will help increase the rate of wind turbine installation. Inland in the US the wind tends to blow more at night. And that is also when demand is the lowest. Wind farms have to sell a lot of their “product” for lower rates.

      A bunch of EVs, plugged in while they are parked at night, create a new market for late night electricity. Wind farms will be able to get a better price for their electricity. That’s higher profits. Higher profits mean better return on investment. And higher returns means that more money comes available to build more wind farms.

      More wind farms at night charging EVs means that there will be more wind farms producing electricity during daytime/peak hours and bringing down our grid costs.

      Then there’s the “Well, if we’re driving with electricity, why don’t we make our own?”. It seems like people who purchase EVs and PHEVs are more likely to install solar panels. Feed power into the grid during the day, take it back at night to charge up.

      EVs/PHEVs not only cut fossil fuel use for transportation, they also spur the growth of renewables.

      • addicted4444

        EVs also provide a great source of battery storage. If we add a little more intelligence to the EVs so they try to charge during excess production times (and I believe the Model S, Volt and Leaf are all capable of this with SW upgrades), they will flatten the demand curve to match production.

        EVs could solve our storage issue without without utility level improvements.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Actually, because electric motors are so much more efficient than conventional internal combustion engines electric cars result in less CO2 emissions than conventional cars just about everywhere. There are only a few weird and disgusting places such as Melbourne where this may not be the case. And these places are on track to reduce their CO2 emissions. (For example, Melbourne is now getting electricity from the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm that was opened on friday.)

    • we actually have a link in our sidebar to a story showing that it’s not an even trade — EVs are cleaner almost everywhere:

      but, of course, installing more renewable energy is also a priority. and as we do so, the use of EVs gets even cleaner & cleaner.

  • Otis11

    Or… we could implement a carbon tax. This would then drive up the cost of FFs including gasoline and not only make EVs more attractive comparably, but significantly reward those who are more energy efficient!

    Simpler, more direct and more effective. What’s not to love?

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