As Australia putters along, unsure quite how to encourage motorists to replace petrol-powered vehicles with electric equivalents, it’s nice to know the rest of the world is accelerating ahead.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales are projected to surpass 7 million cars globally in 2021, more than doubling 2020 sales of 3.2 million. Rystad Energy estimates that EVs, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV), will account for around one in every 10 new cars purchased, with a global market share of 10.3%, up from 5.3% in 2020.

This market share will be a new global record, marking the first time EV sales have accounted for a double-digit share of total vehicle sales, which are projected to be around 69 million in 2021.

Rystad Energy anticipates a high adoption scenario of 72% EV share globally by 2030 and close to 100% by 2040, consistent with a 1.6 degree Celsius global warming scenario. Of the 7 million EV sales in 2021, 68% is expected to be BEV sales, with the remaining 32% from PHEVs.

Sales of EVs continued their upward trajectory in September, with nearly 700,000 units sold. The top 10 countries in terms of EV sales accounted for a dominant 83% of global volumes. September marked the second consecutive month in which the market share of EVs among vehicle sales crossed 10%. With this, total EV sales have reached around 4.72 million vehicles through the first three quarters of 2021.

The rapid rate of EV sales growth worldwide is in large part due to widespread adoption in China. More than 340,000 new EVs were sold in China in September 2021 alone, accounting for around half of global sales. The EV market share in China reached 19.5% in September. Last year, authorities in Beijing announced an action plan targeting a 40% EV share of all vehicle sales, doubling an earlier announced target of 20% by 2025.

“This year’s fourth quarter is set to see a huge increase in the number of EVs sold, mirroring trends from 2019 and 2020, as electric car makers like Tesla traditionally tend to push out maximum deliveries at the end of the year. In addition, buyers are expected to try to take advantage of government incentives before they start being phased out as a result of strong market adoption of EVs,” says Abhishek Murali, energy transition analyst with Rystad Energy.

How other countries stack up

Although China is driving the global numbers, several other countries are seeing high EV adoption rates. Norway, for example, continued to push towards its 100% zero-emission vehicle target, with the EV market share crossing 90% of all vehicles sold during September. In addition, while Tesla remains the highest-selling manufacturer, Chinese automotive companies are moving boldly into the market, with Xiaopeng launching its P7 model and NIO launching its ES8 model.

Germany sold the most EVs in Europe in September, registering 56,000 sales. EVs also accounted for 30% of the German market share, while the percentage of petrol-powered vehicle sales remained flat at 38%.

France took the number two spot in Europe, with close to 29,000 EVs sold as the country moves closer to achieving its 2022 target of 1 million total EV sales. The French government delayed its plan to reduce subsidies on BEVs and PHEVs from January next year, extending them by six months to July 2022.

Sweden registered a strong increase in the number of EV sales during September, hitting 12,264 units. The Scandinavian nation saw the EV market share cross 50% for the first time, as BEVs and PHEVs outsold petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.

The UK, which has suffered a petrol shortage in recent months, saw growth in the EV market share, touching 22% of vehicle sales. Ahead of its move to ban non-electric/non-hybrid vehicles in 2030, the government also announced a requirement for local automakers to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission vehicles every year.

The US, too, saw consistent growth in EV sales in September, capturing a market share of 4.4% of new vehicles. In addition, President Joe Biden announced the Build Back Better framework to provide savings in energy costs. Under this framework, the electric vehicle tax credit will lower the cost of locally produced EVs by $US12,500 for middle-class families.