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Electric Cars Pass 5% of New Sales in 23 Countries

Electric Cars Pass 5% of New Sales in 23 Countries


A Tesla Model Y and Model 3 sit outside a sales centerMore than 5% of the new cars sold in 23 countries are now electric. The 5% mark, say researchers at Bloomberg Green, is a “crucial tipping point” that “signals the start of mass adoption when technological preferences rapidly flip.”

Five more countries – Australia, Canada, Hungary, Spain, and Thailand — have crossed the mark since last year’s analysis. The list includes the United States. According to Kelley Blue Book parent company Cox Automotive, electric vehicles (EVs) comprised 7.2% of all new cars sold in the U.S. last quarter.

Bloomberg Green analysts say, “EV sales can surge from 5% to 25% of new cars in just four years.”

The S-Curve

Consumers tend to follow what economists call an S-curve when adopting new technologies. “Sales move at a crawl in the early-adopter phase, then quickly once things go mainstream,” the researchers explain. Adoption then slows as it nears completion.

America’s Situation Complex

In the U.S., the tipping point took longer to arrive than in most countries. That happened partly because, in wide-open America, drivers demand longer ranges than they do in most other countries. Adoption has also been slower because modernizing America’s patchwork system of electric grids operated by regional providers is more complex than modernizing many countries’ single-grid, one-provider systems.

But, researchers say, “U.S. EV sales are rising fast — up 42% in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago.”

50 States, 50 Situations

America’s automakers appear oversupplied with EVs this quarter. Some automakers have more than a 90-day supply of EVs in an industry where 60 days is the industry’s typical target. But the different needs of drivers in each region mean the supply isn’t a nationwide problem.

EV adoption is speeding up in some states and slowing in others. An electric car is a realistic proposition for many in small, heavily suburban Massachusetts in a way it isn’t in large, rural Wyoming, for instance. Hurricanes make the thoughts of long recharging times during an evacuation forbidding in Florida. Oregon residents don’t have that same worry.

Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids Are Intermediate Steps

Those same factors, however, could make hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) the correct answer in some places. PHEVs can travel commute-like distances on electric power alone and much further on gasoline.

Those cars, Bloomberg Green notes, “don’t require the same level of infrastructure or consumer commitment as fully electric cars.”

But electrification will likely come to certain wealthy countries before it does the rest of the world. “So far, 90% of the world’s EV sales have come from the U.S., China, and Europe. That means countries responsible for about a third of auto sales globally have yet to pass the tipping point,” the researchers explain.



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