By Marc Jourdan, GFDD UN Programs & Outreach Manager
There is hope for a sustainable future after all: The year 2015 saw the global threshold of 1 million electric cars on the road exceeded, closing at 1.26 million!
This great achievement, reported in the International Energy Agency’s Global EV Outlook 2016, reflects considerable efforts by governments and industry over the past ten years. Indeed, in 2014, only about half of today’s electric car stock existed. In 2005, electric cars were only still measured in hundreds!
On a global scale, the market shares of electric cars rose above 1% in seven countries in 2015: Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France, China and the United Kingdom.
Market shares reached 23% in Norway and nearly 10% in the Netherlands.
Norway: top of the class
It is not surprising that Norway has such an extensive share of the Electric Vehicle (EV) market given that the national government has heavily subsidized the industry for several years now.
The country recently made international headlines for its government’s decision to agree on a policy to ban new fuel car sales after 2025, a move that will propel the world’s leading adopter of electric vehicles towards universal EV ownership!
As a major oil exporter, Norway is seeking to have about 67 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
If confirmed and passed into law, the vehicle policy would also make Norway the world’s first nation to ban new fossil fuel-based cars, ahead of The Netherlands, which is debating a similar law, and India, which wants to become a fully EV nation by 2030.
Norway’s success in promoting EV ownership has been due to a slew of incentives for EV owners, ranging from permission to use bus lanes and free public parking, to tax rebates and lower road taxes than other cars. The government rebates have even allowed numerous Norwegians to purchase Tesla EV cars (the first fully electric sports car) at half their usual costs. The decision may explain the praise given to the country on social media by Elon Musk, the car’s manufacturer, who stated “What an amazingly awesome country!”
Advancements of the industry elsewhere
China’s booming electric car sales in 2015 made it the main market worldwide, before the United States, for the first time. China is also home to the strongest global deployment of e-scooters and EV buses, with more than 170 000 buses already circulating today!
In the Dominican Republic, as electric and plug-in hybrid automobiles have dominated the automobile news, the Dominican Republic’s car dealers have started to introduce this new trend to a still traditional Dominican market. Leaning on the current cost of gasoline, Dominican car dealers have managed to show potential customer that hybrid technology offers much better value, especially for vehicles operating in urban areas. The CEO of Peravia Motors, “considers dual-mode, having electric motors along with internal combustion engines, to be the most appropriate currently as they do not require a recharging station. He explained that people can charge them at home, where the car recharges in 3 to 4 hours.” Moreover, he explained that they eliminate the “range anxiety” often associated with electric cars as their combustion engines work as a backup when the batteries deplete.
The Dominican government has been working with countries like Japan to help introduce hybrid vehicles. In March 2014, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development of the Dominican Republic announced that the country received a $5 million donation from the Japanese Government for the purchase of 125 hybrid vehicles. The vehicles were assigned to 16 Dominican Ministries and delivered in mid-2015. Japanese Embassy commercial attaché Yuji Takeya said that “the vehicles’ low environmental impact and reduced fuel consumption contribute to Dominican Republic’s sustainable development, reducing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.”
The number of hybrid vehicles is likely to further grow in the Dominican Republic due to increased public awareness, enhanced quality of hybrid technology and concerns over the environment.
Global EV research & development
Progress in research and development has meant that battery costs have now been cut by a factor of four since 2008 and are set to decrease further.
Such progress and economies of scale are critical to move towards cost parity with conventional fossil fuel powered cars. Recent carmaker announcements suggesting EV ranges that will soon be exceeding 300 kilometers give encouraging signals for the future…
EVs of all types lie at the heart of future sustainable transport systems, alongside the optimization of urban structures to reduce trip distances and shift mobility towards public transportation. The wide global deployment of EVs across all modes is necessary to meet sustainability targets.
The climate change-related benefits of EVs can be fully harvested under the condition that their use is coupled with a decarbonized electricy grid, an additional challenge for countries that are largely dependent on fossil fuels for power generation.
Progress on this issue in those countries will require a profound energy infrastructure shift, before they can fully embrace a transition to the EV industry. In the meantime, cultural support for renewable options by local communities will be essential to add the necessary pressure on governments to begin the conversation on viable alternative sources of power generation and a long term transition to a globally sustainable transport system.