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Global sales of gas cars already peaked, but US will lag rest of world on EVs

In the latest update to Bloomberg’s “Electric Vehicle Outlook,” forecasters say the world will never buy as many traditional gas-powered cars and trucks as we did in 2017. While gas cars will continue to make up more than half of global auto sales for years ahead, gas cars have already peaked – and EVs will now take over.

Bloomberg’s long-term forecast does not predict the EV takeover to happen overnight. Moreover, it expects China and Europe to lead the way, and the US to lag behind. The shift in balance away from the US, according to Bloomberg, begins during the pandemic.

The virus crises will spur China and Europe to increase their support of EVs and related infrastructure. But in the US, electric vehicle sales will “slow drastically” as policy support weakens.

Here is the BloombergNEF global forecast as a percentage of sales and the number of purchases:

  • 2020 – 2.7% / 1.7 million
  • 2025 – 10% / 8.5 million
  • 2030 – 28% / 26 million
  • 2040 – 58% / 54 million

As a percentage of the overall fleet of vehicles on global roads, EVs will account for just 8% of passenger vehicles by 2030. That number will rise to 31% by 2040. Bloomberg believes that CO2 emissions from road transport will continue to grow until 2033.

Electrek’s Take

Nobody has a crystal ball. And Bloomberg takes a conservative approach to its forecast. So it’s not worth getting worked up about how long Bloomberg believes the transition to EVs will take.

But what is disconcerting is Bloomberg’s prediction of slow adoption in the US compared to the rest of the world. Look at the narrowing percentage of sales from about 2021 to 2023.

Colin McKerracher, the lead author on the long-term forecast, said:

[Global] EV adoption is probably going to keep rising and not even dip, which is quite remarkable. But that adoption rate is about to get very different between different countries.

BloombergNEF forecasts that electric vehicle sales in the US will shrink to 1.7% in 2021. But in the same year, the share of EV sales in China and Europe will grow to 8.1% and 5%, respectively.

Bloomberg’s stance on weak adoption in the US is evidenced by cars like the VW ID.3 and BMW iX3, as well as a host of smaller EVs, getting introduced in Europe but not the US.

It’s also echoed by BMW’s investor presentation from a couple of weeks ago. The company promises 13 EVs by 2023. As it stands today, the only pure electric that BMW sells in the US today is the i3. The new electric Mini, with just 110 miles of EV range, is due any day — and the BMW iX3 is not coming to America.

BMW wants to take its tally of 500,000 cumulative sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids from the past five or so years and double it by the end of 2021. But in the US, the i4 and iNext will only begin to arrive, with marginal sales next year. Few if any of the other 8 EVs that BMW will introduce in the next two years will come to the US.

BMW is just one example. But Bloomberg says that by 2022, there will be more than 500 different EV models available globally. The vast majority of those models will be sold in China and Europe.

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Avatar for Bradley Berman Bradley Berman

Bradley writes about electric cars, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and other tech that’s transforming society. He contributes to The New York Times, SAE International, Via magazine, Popular Mechanics, MIT Technology Review, and others.