The growth of electric vehicles

There may be 1 million Electric Vehicles (EVs) on UK roads by 2020. To put this into context, as of 31 December 2012, 3,021 claims had been made through the Plug-in Car Grant scheme.

There are lots of EV sales forecasts in existence in various reports yet there is no industry consensus on the numbers of EVs by 2020. We’re not expecting it to be easy to predict the exact number of EV sales in the UK in eight years’ time, but the different forecasts have a massive range from around 100,000 to 1.5 million.

Starting with the Committee on Climate Change, it foresees the market for EVs and plug-in hybrids will have to reach 16% by 2020 in order to achieve the UK's targets.

The UK DfT scenario for 2020 is for 1.2 million EVs to be on the road, and 350,000 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) - so around 1.5 million in total.

Other forecasts for the numbers of electric vehicles by 2020 are significantly lower. The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) says 3-10%, LMC Automotive predicts 8%, and Morgan Stanley reckons that, globally, there will only be 4.5% battery EVs by 2025.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) predicts 1.1 million EV and PHEV sales globally by 2015, 6.9 million by 2020, and 106 million by 2050.

Electric vehicle being charged

Taking an average of the above, around 10% of new cars in the UK to be plug-in vehicles by 2020 seems like a reasonable maximum. The total UK new car market each year is approximately 2 million cars – so this would equate to around 200,000 EVs (all types) sold in 2020. Add this to the number of EVs already on the road between now and 2020 - so we're back towards the 1 million figure again for total EVs on the road by the end of 2020 - ie. in 7 years time. The minimum figure is likely to be 250,000 EVs by that stage.


Global light passenger and commercial battery electric vehicle (BEV) production forecasts

Global light passenger and commercial BEV production forecasts

Source: IHS

Read more: 7 reasons why electric vehicle sales are likely to grow from their current low numbers in the UK

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