The strong momentum of electric cars continues

While the automotive industry suffered a lot in 2020 because of Covid-19 impact, the electric cars market bucked the wider trend and grew over 40%, setting the stage for a decade of strong expansion. According to IEA’s Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021, a record 3 million new electric cars were registered in 2020, a 41% increase from the previous year. This is particularly relevant as we consider the global automobile market contracted 16% in the last twelve months.

Today there are about 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads – less than 1% of global car fleet, but this figure is expected to grow up to 7% by 2030. Norway is still world e-mobility leader and, for the first time last year, Europe overtook China as the center of the global electric car market.

What’s behind this astonishing progress? The hype for sustainable development and climate change mitigation is surely playing a role. “While they can’t do the job alone, electric vehicles have an indispensable role to play in reaching net-zero emissions worldwide, ” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA.

But there are also more tactical elements to be taken into account. Automakers’ offering is now quite rich, with new 370 models launched in 2020, and many governments helped buffer electric cars by extending existing policy and fiscal support, as well as announcing stimulus measures in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The average price on an electric car is estimated to be $19,000 higher than a gas-powered vehicle, but drivers are increasingly aware the investment can pay off in the medium and long term. As reported by CBS News, fuel savings alone can be more than $4,700 over the first seven years of ownership. With only 20 moving parts, maintenance savings over the lifetime of the electric vehicle can range from $6,000 to $10,000.

The purchase price might fall below that of gas-powered vehicles in the next two to four years, say industry experts. This is related to the constant drop of battery prices and the arrival of new technologies that allow electric cars charge while driving: some countries are testing induction lanes to transfer energy to receptor coils in moving cars. A promising pilot project is in Sweden, where a 1.6 Km induction route for electric buses is currently being built.

At this stage, the development of a widespread and reliable charging and parking infrastructure is critical to boost the further growth of e-mobility. In the US, the Biden administration pledged $15 billion to build 500,000 charging stations nationwide, and other governments are going the same way. A smart management of charging stations and dedicated parking spaces is to be recommended to make electric cars part of zero-emission mobility systems in post-pandemic cities.

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