Global electric car sales estimated to reach 17 million in 2024

May 1, 2024

IEA analysis based on country submissions, ACEA, EAFO, EV Volumes and Marklines (Courtesy IEA)
IEA analysis based on country submissions, ACEA, EAFO, EV Volumes and Marklines (Courtesy IEA)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that electric car sales could reach around 17 million in 2024, accounting for around one in five cars sold worldwide. The market share of EVs could reach up to 45% in China, 25% in Europe and over 11% in the United States, underpinned by competition among manufacturers, falling battery and car prices, and ongoing policy support, it was stated.

In the first quarter of 2024, electric car sales grew by around 25% compared with the first quarter of 2023, similar to the year-on-year growth seen in the same period in 2022. From January to March of this year, almost 1.9 million electric cars were sold in China, marking an almost 35% increase compared to sales in the first quarter of 2023. China Passenger Car Association reported that in March, NEV sales in China surpassed a share of 40% in overall car sales for the first time.

As in 2023, sales of plug-in hybrid electric cars are reportedly growing faster than sales of pure battery electric cars. Plug-in hybrid electric car sales in the first quarter increased by around 75% year-on-year in China, compared to 15% for battery electric car sales which started from a lower base.

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In Europe, the first quarter of 2024 saw year-on-year growth of over 5%, slightly above the growth in overall car sales and thereby stabilising the EV sales share at a similar level as last year. Electric car sales growth was particularly high in Belgium, with around 60,000 electric cars sold, almost 35% more than the year before. However, Belgium represents less than 5% of total European car sales.

In the major European markets – France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom (together representing about 60% of European car sales) – growth in electric car sales was lower. In France, overall EV sales grew by about 15% in the first quarter, with BEV sales growth being higher than PHEVs. While this is less than half of the rate as over the same period last year, total sales were higher and led to a slight increase in the share of EVs in total car sales. The United Kingdom saw a similar year-on-year growth of over 15% in EV sales which was about the same rate as over the same period last year. Battery electric car subsidies ended in 2023 in Germany and sales of electric cars fell by almost 5% in the first quarter of 2024. This was reportedly predominantly due to a 20% year-on-year decrease in March. As a result, the share of EVs in total car sales was slightly lower than last year. As in China, PHEV sales in both Germany and the United Kingdom were stronger than BEV sales. In Italy, sales of electric cars in the first three months of 2024 were over 20% lower than over the same period in 2023, with the majority of the decrease taking place in the PHEV segment.

In the United States, first-quarter sales reached around 350,000, almost 15% higher than the same period the year before. As in other major markets, the sales growth of PHEVs was even higher, at 50%. While the BEV sales share in the United States have fallen over the past few months, the sales share of PHEVs has reportedly grown.

The majority of the additional 3 million electric car sales projected for 2024 relative to 2023 are estimated to be from China. Despite the phase-out of NEV subsidies last year, sales in China have remained robust, indicating that the market is maturing. With strong competition and relatively low-cost electric cars, sales are estimated to grow by almost 25% in 2024 to around 10 million. If confirmed, this figure will come close to the total global electric car sales in 2022. As a result, electric car sales could represent around 45% of total car sales in China over 2024.

In 2024, electric car sales in the United States are projected to rise by 20% compared to the previous year, translating to almost half a million more sales, relative to 2023. Over the entire year, around one in nine cars sold are expected to be electric.

Considering recent trends and the fact that tightening CO2 targets are not due to come in until 2025, the growth in electric car sales in Europe is expected to be the lowest of the three largest markets. Sales are projected to reach around 3.5 million units in 2024, reflecting modest growth of less than 10% compared to the previous year. In the context of a generally weak outlook for passenger car sales, electric cars would still represent about one in four cars sold in Europe.

Outside of the major EV markets, electric car sales are anticipated to reach the milestone of over 1 million units in 2024, marking a significant increase of over 40% compared to 2023.

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