Power grids tremble as electric vehicle growth set to accelerate 19% next year

Gas-guzzling US favors hybrids while Europe prefers battery power

Shipments of electric cars – both battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles – are set to grow by 19 percent in 2024 to hit 17.9 million units worldwide, according to Gartner.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) make up the bulk of the market, with 11 million units expected to be sold by the end of 2023. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are set to increase sales at a slower rate to reach 4 million units in 2023.

Regional differences in the uptake of electric vehicles are playing their part in determining the split between the two.

"US consumers who are transitioning from a pure internal combustion engine (ICE) car are choosing to adopt PHEVs over their BEV counterparts because PHEVs combine the ability to deliver emission-free urban driving, with the convenience of gasoline-powered propulsion for longer journeys," said Jonathan Davenport, senior director analyst at Gartner.

"The situation is different in western Europe, China, and to a lesser extent India, where consumers favor BEV's lower overall running costs, quieter driving experience and green credentials."

Cars are set to make up 97 percent of all EV shipments next year, Gartner said. It forecasts that shipments of all-electric vehicles (EVs) – cars, buses, vans, and heavy trucks – will reach 18.5 million units in 2024, with buses the next most in-demand electric vehicle, far behind cars with only 207,845 units set to ship next year. Heavy trucks are the vehicles most resistant to electrification – only 39,349 are expected to ship next year, Gartner said.

EV prices are also set to come down, in relative terms, helping drive demand. Gartner said that by 2027, the average price of a BEV will be equal to an equivalent model of ICE vehicle.

However, by 2030, electric power generation and grid capacity could hold back uptake, regardless of price.

"Unless countries take actions to incentivize EV drivers to charge outside peak electricity consumption periods, the switch to EVs may put an additional strain on both the power generation capacity and the distribution infrastructure," said Davenport.

In 2019, research house Canalys revealed that EVs were struggling to gain a foothold in the US market with gas-loving Americans reluctant to ditch their petrol power for electricity. At the time, just 90,000 of the 4.2 million of cars sold were electric, a fall of 18 per cent. Chris Jones, chief analyst for automotive at Canalys, bemoaned weak US demand for failing to drive growth.

Gartner now sees some automakers looking to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035 while others are aiming to achieve sales of 40-50 percent of annual US volumes of electric vehicles by 2030. Meanwhile, the growing importance of EVs has led to new market entrants, it said. ®

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