Number of electric and hybrid cars worldwide grew to 16.5 million by 2021

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Sales of electric and hybrid cars worldwide will double to 6.6 million by 2021, according to a report by the energy agency IEA. At the end of the year there were 16.5 million such cars on the road. That is three times as much as in 2018.

Nearly 10 percent of all cars sold worldwide in 2021 were electric or hybrid models, writes the IEA in its Global Electric Vehicle Outlook† It is not known what the proportions are between these two categories. However, the report shows that of the total number of electric and hybrid cars currently in circulation, about two thirds are fully electric models.

China is the largest buyer, with 3.3 million electric and hybrid cars sold in 2021. In Europe, sales grew by 65 percent to 2.3 million. 630,000 units were delivered in the United States. That was more than a doubling. The number of available electric and hybrid models increased to 450 by the end of 2021.

According to the report, Chinese electric cars are generally smaller than those in other markets. As a result, they are on average only 10 percent more expensive than cars with a combustion engine. In other large markets it is still 45 or 50 percent.

Sales appear to be increasing further this year. The first quarter of 2022 was good for 2 million electric and hybrid cars sold. That is 75 percent more than in the same quarter a year earlier. Sustaining that growth could be difficult, the report said, due to rising prices of materials used in batteries and supply chain disruptions from the war in Ukraine and lockdowns in China. In the long term, according to the IEA, more needs to be done to improve the infrastructure for electric cars.

The price for lithium was seven times higher in May than at the beginning of last year, according to the IEA. Prices for cobalt and nickel also rose. If prices remain at current levels, it could increase battery prices by 15 percent, the agency writes.

Electric trucks have only a minimal share. Last year, 0.3 percent of trucks sold worldwide were electric or hybrid models. That share must increase to 10 percent by 2030 to achieve the climate goals, the agency says. Electric trucks are already on the rise in China, thanks to government incentives.

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