2020 was the Year Electric Vehicles Broke Through
After years of low sales, electric vehicles look like they’re on a path to dominance
Despite the global economic down-turn caused by the COVID crisis, electric vehicles (EVs) had a strong year. Sales grew 43% year-over-year to 3.2 million vehicles in 2020. Better yet, market share increased from 2.5% in 2019 to 4.2% in 2020.
The first modern electric vehicles came to market in 2010. It wasn’t until 2017 that electric vehicles made up even one percent of vehicles sold globally. At this pace, electric vehicles will continue to swallow an ever-larger portion of the global market.
China remains the largest market for electric vehicles, selling over 1.3 million units. However, European countries saw the strongest growth, increasing by 137% for the continent as a whole.
The US market showed moderate growth as well. While electric sales grew just 4%, this result looks better since the overall car market was down 16%.
Among manufacturers, Tesla dominated the market once again, selling about 500,000 units. The Model 3 was the best-selling model by a massive margin. Their new crossover, the Model Y, also came onto the scene, finishing as the 4th best selling model.
However, Tesla may be seeing their first serious competition in some time. Volkswagen Group has gotten serious about electric vehicles in a big way, and they have now introduced a variety of new EVs. VW finished as the second best selling manufacturer, selling 420,000 electric cars and nearly 230,000 all-electric cars. By 2025, VW aims to sell 3 million electric vehicles per year. These two manufacturers could be locked in a race for EV leadership for years to come.
As big as 2020 was, 2021 is already set to be an even bigger year. Several promising new models should begin large-scale deliveries, including the first electric pickup trucks and the ID.4, VW’s first serious effort that will come to the North American market. This should mean promising growth for the languishing North American market.
Tesla also has two new manufacturing facilities under construction. If everything stays on track, both should turn out their first vehicles by the end of the year. The company could be looking at nearly 1 million units in 2021 — which would be double their 2020 production.
2021 should see a number of promising new startups enter the market as well. Companies such as Rivian, Lordstown Motors, and Lucid Motors all plan to begin deliveries this year. While it’s unlikely they’ll sell many units yet, this further adds to the competition in the EV industry.
Road vehicles form about 10% of total global emissions, and an even larger share of emissions in many developed countries. As pickup trucks and large SUVs come to market for the first time this year, EVs will make an increasingly large dent in emissions going forward.