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Published on March 28th, 2015 | by James Ayre


Electric Car Demand Growing, Global Market Hits 740,000 Units

March 28th, 2015 by  

Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is growing around the world fairly rapidly, according to new analysis from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research — with more than 320,000 new EV registrations in 2014, bringing the total global market up to 740,000 vehicles.

electric cars worldwide total

Top electric car countries. Total = number of electric cars on the road on January 1, 2015.

EV growth by country

Number of electric car sales by year and country.

Top 5 ELectric Car Models

Top 5 electric car models.

Alongside that, battery suppliers saw strong growth — with total revenue hitting €2 billion ($2.17 billion), according the German research company behind the analysis.

The majority of this somewhat rapid growth is the result of just a few companies leading the charge, so to speak — these companies are mostly the ones that you would guess: Nissan, Tesla, and Mitsubishi, amongst others.

Out of all the various regions of the world, the US in particular saw strong growth — with a growth rate of 69%, bringing total EV numbers up to 290,000 units in the country. What that means practically speaking is that roughly one in every three or so EVs in the world is on US roads.

China’s growth didn’t lag terribly far behind with regard to total numbers, with 54,000 new EVs registered there during 2014. That number actually represents a 120% growth rate, beating out the US — and bringing the total number of EVs in the country up to ~100,000. Japan was right up there as well, with a 45% growth rate, bringing total numbers up to ~110,000 units.

The new analysis makes note of the fact that all 3 countries had relatively supportive policies in place, and that these were partly responsible for the good growth rates. Countries without supportive policies — Germany, for instance — saw weaker growth.

The overall global market saw a growth rate of ~76%, according to the analysis — with overall EV registrations rising around 2-fold a 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,” noted the firm’s head of electrochemical energy technologies division, Werner Tillmetz. That’s something that seems likely considering the many soon-to-be-released, highly anticipated models.

Images by ZSW

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Smith

    Why do you keep putting Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius in the EV category when these vehicles are hybrids and not EVs, even Chevrolet has admitted to that. It’s just a way to make EV sales look better than they really are. 2015 EV sales were 72,200 up 6.6% over last year and represents 0.42% of total sales. Why not say it as it is and stop over selling the category. And we are not saving the planet with vehicles that use coal fired electricity generation, high energy use aluminium chassis and body and batteries that use chemistry that producers are destroying the planet to gain access to and industry has not real recycling options yet. Get real people, there are better solutions.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ​Simple answer.

      Because they are electric cars which have built in range extenders.

      There will be better solutions than PHEVs but they aren’t available yet. Once people can purchase more affordable long range EVs then the need for PHEVs will diminish.​

      In the meantime people who need to drive more than 80 miles and can’t afford a Tesla can use PHEVs as a way to cut their gasoline usage by 85% or more.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Suppose you were in the market for a new car. You’ve picked out the brand, model and features.

    You go in the showroom. There’s your car. The sticker price is better than you expected.

    Then you notice it’s not a gas version but an electric. You also happen to know that it will save you a lot of money every year because you can charge it up when you park and use cheap electricity.

    Let’s see, cheaper to buy, cheaper to drive, better acceleration, quieter, smoother ride. It let’s you skip gas stations, oil changed, all that gas engine maintenance stuff.

    Now, perhaps you’re one of those guys who’s set in his ways, but how do you think most people are going to react?

  • g cohn

    Looking for projected EV sales 2015-2020 in Michigan USA. Any referrals to credible sources?

  • dt

    As soon as Tesla comes out with their 36,000 dollar model I am in.

  • rockyredneck

    I find these figures a little disappointing. After all, there were 64.5 million cars manufactured last year. An increase of 2.6% or about 1.7 million over 2013.


    Obviously electric cars are not decreasing the number of ICE cars on the road. Electrics are far from having a significant effect as of yet.

    I did look at a used hybrid at under $15K with 100,000 kilometers yesterday. It would have tempted me if I was in the market for another car. It is likely a good choice, for my area, with our cold weather and lack of charging facilities. I am going to mention it to friends that I know are in the market.

    • vic_vega

      Give it time. Li Shufu, head of Gealy Automotive in China (owner of Volvo), has said that in 5 years ICE companies will be going out of business. Maybe he’s just talking about China, but the global move has started.

      • rerr

        Kandi Tech!! $kndi Check it out. #1 ev in China

      • rockyredneck

        A surprising quote, given that is likely that the companies currently manufacturing ICE cars that will be manufacturing the majority of electric cars

        • vic_vega

          The conversion will be difficult with so many legacy cars to maintain and continue to build while opening new factories with new technology. Easier for a pure EV company to succeed. Like rerr said, Kandi Technologies has a better chance (nasdaq:KNDI)

          • Martin

            If we (humans) can get 50% of the population into hybrids that would be a HUGE step into the correct direction!Better if Better it would be 100 % within 5 years and within 15 years to EV’s, yes I am an optimist!

        • jeffhre

          True. Much like Kodak and Polaroid are responsible for the majority of today’s photography.

          • rockyredneck

            There were already lots of electronic companies willing to compete when digital photography became possible. There is nothing really new about EVs and any competition to existing companies would be total new startups. A huge difference.

      • Wow, that’s a quote. Have a good link on that?

    • anti_banker

      Cold weather barely affects a Tesla Model S

      • rockyredneck

        Only problem is it’s price. Nearly 50K outside my budget. They have no charging stations anywhere near me, so no advantage of free charging.

    • jeffhre

      True. Like the article said – it’s only made a difference of about a million cars. So far 🙂

      • rockyredneck

        The number of ICEV vehicles on the road is still increasing. EVs have only slowed it a little bit, so far.

  • JamesWimberley

    Is a 76% growth rate only “fairly” rapid? That’s a doubling in 15 months.

    • No way

      When it’s still at very very low numbers you would expect more. And the percentage is decreasing pretty fast.
      But the booms are coming. There will be a great one in 2017, and another one around 2020. And the chinese could create a boom by themselves and are a bit unpredictable so we’ll just have to wait and see if they will splash anything and everything out of the water or not.

      • flubalubaful

        I would be surprised if China did not have a few vehicles to export very soon, just think of the foreign currency they could get their hands on. All they need to do is produce a 5 seater that can travel 200 miles per charge and with their technological advantages compared to the west they could do this very soon and at prices the west could only dream of. this is why America produces big vehicles with lots of luxury, they cannot compete on the small vehicle market.

        then again if Musk has his way i suspect there will be a Tesla available for $25 000 as soon as 2017.But qagain he is from South Africa and not america and is very frustrated with the corruptin in America and the red tape that prevents him from doing the best for the country as a whole.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Frustrated with corruption in the US?

          The US is in the top 20 of the world’s least corrupt countries. In 2012 South Africa was 69 out of 176.

          China is exporting the BYD e6. It’s being used in multiple countries as taxis. It’s on the expensive side but the durable batteries and longer range make it very useful for taxi work.

          I suspect China is going to put as many EVs as they can manufacture on their own streets over the next several years. They are pushing to cut both their CO2 emissions and air pollution.

          • anti_banker

            Musk is half American and has spent most of his adulthood in the States.

      • Smith

        Over 70% of electricity in China is created by cola generators and the pollution and harm to the planet is far greater than a petrol car, so you really need to look at the cradle to grave impact on the world. EVs will not save the planet.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Massive logic fail.

          China is cleaning its grid. As are most countries except the ones that are already 100% carbon free.

          EVs are the best solution we have for people who want to drive a car. We can build them. We can charge them with clean electricity.

    • Smith

      No actually EV sales have only increased by 6.6% year over year in the USA, the worlds largest EV market. Please stop confusing EV stats with Hybrids, they use fossil fuels to produce their energy, so they are not pure EVs.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Get off your purity pony.

        PHEVs drastically cut petroleum use.

  • Martin

    Yes people will switch to EV’s for the following reasons
    A : Cost of “fuel”is less, only about 15- 20 % of ICE
    B: lower service cost, looks at a leaf this year, nearest dealer is 6 hour drive, one way, service for year is – rotate tires, check batteries system.
    C: you are able to “fill up” at home
    D: nice quiet ride, how many people went back to a ICE after driving a EV?

    Just my opinion! Any body think different?

    • Hi Martin, Good points. I agree.
      There are some more reasons to consider in my opinion:
      1. There was some info in an article once that stated that many of the first-time buyers of EVs do so due to influence from their friends who own EVs. This pool of people influencing their friends is growing.
      2. The public charging infrastructure, while not so important in actual practice of EV owners, is likely to be a consideration for first-time buyers of EVs and that infrastructure continues to be built out as each month passes.
      3. Each year, the models increase their ranges, which gives people greater comfort levels.
      4. Battery prices are coming down and will continue to do so. This makes EVs more affordable.

      5. Market acceptance itself contributes in a range of ways. When people see more EVs on the road, they are likely to feel more comfortable with them. When companies see greater financial opportunity, they will naturally go after it with more commitment. The financial markets start reporting on it more and analysts start including data about EVs. The auto reporting takes notice and starts reporting on it.
      To make a long story short, EV market growth contributes to more EV market growth. Before long, we will have a mature market. 🙂

    • All good reasons, but I think the top 2 things that will drive common people to switch to EVs will be:

      1) Convenience: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/02/20/1-reason-electric-cars-will-dominate-car-market/

      2) Torque: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/12/30/1-reason-electric-cars-can-dominate-car-market/

      • rockyredneck

        I think you should add ” competetive pricing”. Otherwise I agree.

        • I think I should too. It’s hard to generalize on the topic, and I think most don’t evaluate lifetime cost (which is key), but the term “competitive pricing” is a good one to use.

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