EV Sales Growing Fast; U.S. Near Top

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EV Sales Growing Fast; U.S. Near Top

Global electric vehicle sales are growing rapidly from a small base but are concentrated to date in a handful of countries, including the United States, China, several European nations and Japan, according to a new report from LubesnGreases about EVs and their impact on lube markets.

The trends point to a future in which some car populations may shift heavily toward electric vehicles while others remain dominated by internal combustion engines, LubesnGreases Perspective on Electric Vehicles found.

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Photo: Patrick Tehan/Alamy

Robots assemble electric vehicles on the assembly line at a Tesla automobile plant in Fremont, California.

Maybe at some point a threshold will be passed and other countries will start to catch up in terms of penetration of electric vehicles, Executive Editor Tim Sullivan said. But in the nearer term we could see a polarization of passenger car populations, and that would certainly impact lubricant demand patterns and likely the way that lube marketers approach their business.

Launched Nov. 30, Perspective on Electric Vehicles is a paid-subscription product with two components – an annual report that comprehensively analyzes EVs and their impacts on lubricants, supplemented by quarterly reports with news about EVs and the response of the lubricant industry.

As noted in the inaugural 2019 Annual Report, China is by far the largest EV market, and the U.S. is far ahead of third place Japan, based on sales during the first quarter of 2018. Sales of EVs – including hybrids and cars powered purely by battery – were 83,672 in China for that period, 23,224 in the U.S. and 10,732 for Japan.

Worldwide EV sales are rising at a rapid pace. They increased 65 percent in 2017 to 1.2 million, and they rose 66 percent year on year during the first half of 2018 to reach 790,000, on their way to a projected 2.1 million for all of 2018. Forecasts of future sales vary wildly, but Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts global EV sales will reach 11 million in 2025 and 30 million in 2030. The research organization also projects that EVs will constitute a third of the global car fleet by 2040.

If current sales patterns in any way hold, that could mean that EV penetration will be significantly higher in some countries and significantly lower in others.

Unsurprisingly, countries with higher numbers of EV sales generally offer significant incentives, although the particulars of strategies vary from nation to nation. The 2019 Annual Report illustrates that variety by discussing pro-EV policies in eight countries: the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, France, Norway, the U.K. and Brazil. Investment in EV battery recharging points is one key indicator. Again, China is the runaway leader with 213,903 public charging points, followed by 47,117 for the U.S.

The rapid pace of growth in EV sales has concerns within the lubricants industry, largely due to the fact that cars running only on battery power do not contain engine oil. As the annual report notes, forecasts of future EV penetration vary a lot, but several analyses have predicted that EVs will have a moderating impact on passenger car motor oil sales volumes and that global PCMO volumes will continue rising for a few decades, though at a slower pace than they would were it not for EVs.

The report also discusses performance demands for lubricants used in EVs and concludes that electrification will create new demands for transmission fluids and greases, though the specific needs will vary depending on the particulars of vehicle design.

Subscriptions to LubesnGreases Perspective on Electric Vehicles are $2,500. Information is available at this link.

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