Government help needed to juice EV sales growth, IEA says


LONDON — Global electric vehicle sales picked up speed in the first quarter, but more government action is needed on charging stations and fossil-fuel vehicle bans to keep the momentum going, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.

“We still see no sign of a slowdown in global electric car markets,” said Timur Guel, head of the IEA’s energy technology policy division, in a presentation on the global outlook for EVs.

While the COVID-19 pandemic drove global car sales down 16 percent in 2020, EV sales jumped 41 percent to around 3 million vehicles.

First-quarter global EV sales soared 140 percent to 1.1 million vehicles, with strong growth in China, Europe and the United States, the IEA said.

A Munich Mobility Show study released last week showed huge disparities in global EV ownership, with very few electrified vehicles on the roads in large markets like Russia, South America and Africa.

EV sales growth in Europe and China has been fueled by tightening CO2 emissions standards and government subsidies.

Globally, consumers spent around $120 billion on EVs in 2020, while governments forked out around $13 billion in subsidies, or equivalent to around 10 percent of total spending, down from 20 percent of total spending in 2015.

That will fall further as battery prices drop and EVs reach cost parity with fossil-fuel vehicles, which IEA energy analyst Jacopo Tattini said should happen by 2030.

“But policies must be strengthened to enable a larger electric vehicle deployment,” Tattini said.

He said governments need to further tighten fuel economy standards and join the 20 or so countries that have already announced plans to ban sales of new fossil-fuel vehicles — such as the U.K., which has announced a ban from 2030.

Governments also need to keep up spending on charging infrastructure, Tattini said.

Automakers and environmental groups say more spending on EV chargers is needed to foster consumer confidence in the technology and support sales.

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