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Published on August 8th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


1 Million Electric Cars Will Be On The Road In September

August 8th, 2015 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Globally, plug-in electric car sales (including plug-in hybrid sales) will hit 1 million next month, September 2015.

Global sales reached ~910,000 at the end of June, and with ~40,000 plug-in sales globally each month now, that makes September practically a given for the 1 million marker. These million sales have basically come in the last 5 years. Sales grew 729% in 2011 compared to 2010, then 150% in 2012 (from ~50,000 cars a year to ~110,000 cars a year , then nearly 100% in 2013 (to ~200,000 cars a year), then ~50% in 2014 (to ~300,000 cars a year). The expectation is that 2015 will see about 430,000 plug-in car sales worldwide.

As shown in a great infographic the other day*, the clear leaders in terms of total sales are the US, China, and Japan. However, on a percentage of total car sales basis or per GDP basis, the leaders shift to Norway, the Netherlands, and Iceland. While the US is far in the lead in terms of cumulative electric car sales, Europe and China have now passed it in terms of monthly sales.


Of course, some countries are seeing very fast growth in 2015. Jeff Cobb notes, “five nations had sales growth over 50 percent [in 2014]. These are the UK (247.2 percent), China (185.8 percent), France (86.7 percent ), Germany (67.3 percent ) and Norway (66.4 percent).”

This is all just cars, though. One country is flying forward in terms of electric heavy-duty vehicles as well. That country would be China. Mario R. Duran, who tracks global sales, “China is the absolute king in heavy-duty PEV sales, with over 22,000 during the first half of 2015, and 53.7K cumulative sales.” The country is quickly rolling out electric BYD buses, among other things. And other countries are slowly starting to follow suit, most notably the UK, which just ordered 51 BYD electric buses and aims to have all of London’s single-deck buses be completely emissions-free by 2020.

*Note some discrepancy in that and the numbers above, particularly what seems to be a typo/chart error for 2012 — probably meant to be 120,000.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Hugh

    Back in the 1980s in Sydney I suggest that electric cars could be designed with easily exchangable batteries, and selected service stations could hold racks of charged/charging batteries, whereby drivers of electric cars could easily exchange their near-flat batteries for charged ones.

  • dennis

    Hi there!

    I just did a rough (extremely rough) estimation on how many barrels of oil will stay untouched with a million electric cars on the road. I kindly ask you to foolproof if you have concerns/question:
    1.000.000 Electric cars
    14.000km/year driven (worldwide average; US=14.000km, Europe is a bit higher, China a bit lower [though congestion might bring up average fuel consumption here]) km (thus are now driven electric)
    8 l/100km (worldwide average fuel consumption/per 100km)

    Adds up to L of fuel/diesel that is unused due to electric cars

    1barrel = 56 L fuel (thats an average of gasoline and diesel)

    Final number:
    Approx. 20.000.000 barrel/year stay unused with a million electric cars on the road. Doesn’t seem very much at all. As I said I did this with EIA, German and Chinese stats very roughly, please feel free to add your own info.

    • Bob_Wallace

      The first million is the hardest.

      A million EVs may not make a significant dent in oil consumption but as the uptake curve continues to accelerate we’ll almost certainly see a lot of oil go unsellable. Just as is now happening with coal.

      • dennis

        hi there,

        not trying to claim the opposite, just want to get some numbers around it to better understand the impact over the years.
        based on annual production, which is at about 24bil. barrels, 20mil saved barrels a year (as mentioned above) would lead me to assume the following:

        approx. 0,01% (adjusted upward) of oil produced daily today could go unused per 1 million electric cars.

        dennis d.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I found one site that claimed 1 billion cars on the world’s roads in 2010. 1 million EVs would be 0.1% of that number.

          If you want a percentage of total oil consumption then you’d probably need to find a percentage of all oil that goes to cars.

          The impact of EVs has to be very small at this point in time. It will take a few years before we start seeing significant drops in oil use. But change almost always starts slowly.

          • dennis

            Sure. 1 billion cars is right, I believe.

            I used total oil production because I was particularly interested in the effect on total oil demand worldwide and thus the potential effect on the oil price. 2020 I believe is the earliest we will see a first noticeable impact on total oil demand through the use of EV’s. Hopefully fuel efficiency (i.e. turbochargers) will bring down average fuel consumption from 8L/100km to somewhere closer to 5L/100km until then.

            Dennis D.

  • Alharbi

    The first chart shows a 2012 global sales of 12,000 cars. That cannot be right. May be you meant 120,000.

    • JamesWimberley

      The world of people who draw charts is divided into those who have read and digested Edward Tufte, and the clueless.

    • Yeah, I noted that in the article. Based on data I’ve seen, I’d presume it was supposed to be 120,000.

  • Michael G

    The bar chart for Japan shows NO pure EV sales but isn’t the Leaf a pure EV?

    Otherwise – very encouraging. When everyone gets to 250 mile range and fast charging is *everywhere* (instead of ‘hard to find’) we will really see ICEs start to go away. Until then, BEVs will be a 2nd car for most people.

    • Kraylin

      I noticed that as well, can’t be right.

    • Yeah, I don’t know if they left it out on purpose or on mistake, but the LEAF as well as some other top sellers there are 100% electric.

  • Joe Viocoe

    The growth curve of EVs won’t be linear, which was a talking point of many detractors.

    The growth curve won’t even be strictly exponential..

    The growth curve will be a Pulsed Exponential with intervals matched with the release of each generation of popular brands.

    Things slow down for GM’s Volt with anticipation of the Volt 2.0. The Leaf will have the same thing soon. Then the Model ≡ will too.

    • “The growth curve will be a Pulsed Exponential with intervals matched with the release of each generation of popular brands.” -Great point.

  • JamesWimberley

    The line chart in the embedded infographic isn’t drawn to any sort of scale, it’s some sort of freehand doodle. Bad, since charting software is readily available. Misleading charts are malpractice, morally equivalent to say fabricated quotations.

    The deceleration in the rate of growth is normal IMHO for the very early years of a new technology. It will be interesting to see if the CAGR now holds round 50%.

    • hmm, wth — hadn’t noticed that.

    • Ping Jockey

      Zach, I would have to agree with Mr. Wimberley on this one. After reviewing your sources of data, I find only 1 of 6 to be a creditable source – Navigant Research. Wiki and other blogs often carry “heuristic data” and opinions, which usually carries dangerous flaws that can lead to “bad decisions” – to steal Mr. W.’s characterization.

      For example, as our Sheik friend below points out, 2012 had significantly more EV sales in 2012. In fact, it was 180,000 (Source: International Energy Association; The Global EV Outlook; Understanding the Electric Vehicle Landscape to 2020, April 2013, Page 6).

      The same report, which includes 15 member countries who are participating in the Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI), projects/goak is 20 million EVs on the road by 2020. Id.

      Your last chart, “Sales Forecast” projects just under 10 million EVs by 2020, without support or accurate scales. When compared to the IEA’s forecast/goals, we arrive at about a 12 million EV difference!

      That is “misleading”.

      However, all is not lost in your write up. In other words, although your charts, sources, and forecast have significant flaws, I find you understanding of where this market is going and its segments to be spot on.

      Yes, I’ve been critical and perhaps harsh; however, I’ve always found the harshest criticisms to be my best teachers.

      Don’t quite, shy away, or stop pursuing you reporting desires; just keep getting better.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I think you misread the 180k. That’s cumulative sales.

        2012 sales (on that page) are 113,000.

      • JamesWimberley

        Forecasts can’t be misleading in the same way. They may, and probably will be, wrong, but that’s life. But you have to report and present the past as accurately and fairly as you can. That’s why I was so hard on Zach’s source.

      • Thanks. I think we’ve spotted enough issues with this infographic (which I loved at first glance) that I won’t use it again. 😛 Too bad, because a lot of the stuff in it is very interesting.

      • Reto Fassbind

        calling wikipedia a “blog” is kind of ignorant

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