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Cumulative electric vehicle sales around the world

When I was shopping for a new car last year I gave serious thought to buying an electric vehicle. In fact, it is what I initially set out to do. But I couldn’t find a model that I liked and I didn’t feel like the charging infrastructure was in place for me to go on snowboarding trips to places like Quebec or Vermont. So I went with an ICE vehicle. But we all know it is only a matter of time before we hit that tipping point, which is why 100% of the parking spots at our Junction House project will be ready for an electric vehicle charging station.

According to a recent briefing from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), there were 3.1 million electric passenger vehicles in use around the world at the end of 2017. Almost all of them (98%) were located in China, Europe, Japan, and the United States, and nearly half of them (44%) were located in just 25 cities. Shanghai leads the world (or at least it did at the end of 2017) with 162,000 cumulative sales since 2011. This represents 5% of all global electric vehicle sales during this time period.

The footnote to this is that most of Shanghai’s electric vehicles are actually plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, whereas in the case of Beijing — which is second only to Shanghai in terms of cumulative sales — it is virtually all battery electric vehicles. Digging even deeper, if you look at the share of electric vehicles sales in each city, it becomes clear that, on a per capita basis, the real leader is actually Norway. Between 40-50% of all cars sold in Oslo and Bergen were electric in 2017.

Here is a chart from the ICCT:

What is clear from these leading cities is that there are supportive policies and incentives in place to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. The chicken-and-egg dilemma, which is what I ran into, is that you really need the installed charging capacity. The ICCT estimates that the top 25 electric vehicle markets have about 24x the available charging per capita compared to other cities. That certainly helps.


  1. tbone

    you didn’t buy an electric car because the charging infrastructure wasn’t built-out enough for some snowboarding trips you might do 2-3 times per year? I bet you could’ve made out just fine and rented a car for those ski trips. Also the latest Ontario building code requires all new build condominiums to have 100% of parking spots ready for EV charging stations to be put in with 20% equipped with charging stations.


    • The issue isn’t just those longer trips. The batteries experience cold weather range loss. So what about a trip up to Collingwood for the weekend if you aren’t able to charge at your destination?


      • Tbone

        especially during the extreme cold weather we’ve had also A colleague of mine has the new nissan leave and had his range drop nearly in half when it was minus 30, still you’d be able to complete the fast majority of trips with that 50% battery. 2-3 years ago I would’ve agreed with you but charging infrastructure has exploded, if you haven’t already check this out and go to your most common destinations and see how many (or how little) there is in charging stations available. Here’s hoping your next vehicle is 100% electric.


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