Strong electric car sales expected for 2024, but charging grid needs work

International Energy Agency points out obvious: Infrastructure needs to meet demand

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is reminding governments to match the continued rapid growth of electric car sales with infrastructure improvements.

In the annual Global EV Outlook, the IEA estimates that China is leading the way in global electric car indstry. According to the report, EV sales in the country are expected to reach approximately 10 million, or 45 per cent of all car sales, in 2024. Around 25 per cent of new cars in Europe will be electric, and one in nine in the US.

The IEA says in the report: "The number of electric cars sold globally in the first three months of this year is roughly equivalent to the number sold in all of 2020."

In 2024, global sales are set to reach 17 million.

It's all heady stuff, particularly considering a softening outlook for passenger car sales in regions such as Europe. Should current policies remain as they are, the IEA expects that half of all cars sold globally by 2035 will be electric. However, if countries stick to their energy and climate pledges, two-thirds of cars sold will be electric.

In the UK, the date for all new petrol and diesel cars to be electric had been 2030 but it was pushed back to 2035 last year.

Part of the reasoning behind the UK's decision to defer was the state of the country's charging infrastructure. The IEA acknowledges that while installed charging points were up globally by 40 percent year-on-year in 2023, and that growth in faster chargers was outpacing that of slower ones, more work is still needed.

"To meet a level of electric vehicle deployment in line with the pledges made by governments, charging networks need to grow sixfold by 2035," the IEA report says.

And then there are the electricity grids, which the IEA also acknowledges would require policy support and planning to ensure the increase in demand would not not overstretch the infrastructure.

China's electric cars actually cheaper than combustion engine ones

The report also notes that in China, 60 percent of electric cars sold in 2023 were less expensive than their conventional counterparts, a statistic that buyers in the US and Europe, where internal combustion engined cars tend to be cheaper, can only dream of. However, the IEA says that improving battery technologies and competition should drive down prices.

According to the IEA, that downward pressure on prices is also likely to come from China, which accounted for half of all electric car sales in 2023. The IEA says Chinese companies reported strong sales thanks to more affordable models launched in overseas markets in 2022 and 2023.

"This highlights that the composition of the main EV-producing economies is diverging considerably from the traditional auto industry." ®

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