A graph showing the growth within the EV sector

Analysis in latest annual Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook also foresees electric models accounting for 58 per cent of new passenger car sales globally by 2040

According to research unveiled this week by BloombergNEF, international sales of electric passenger vehicles are set to fall 18 per cent in 2020, marking the first year that will not see EV sales climb in a decade.

Despite the setback, however, the research firm still projects that EV sales in 2020 will hold up better than conventional vehicles — which are projected to drop by 23 per cent compared to last year’s total.

Long-term outlook bright

“The long-term outlook for EVs remains bright, as fundamental cost and technology improvements outweigh the short-term impacts of the pandemic,” says the report, BNEF’s fifth annual Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook. “Some near-term EV model launches will be delayed, but manufacturers so far are sticking to their long-term electrification commitments.”

The predicted resilience for worldwide EV sales in 2020 follows a similar pattern seen in Canada so far this year, as Electric Autonomy has previously noted.

The dramatic reduction in overall vehicle sales caused by COVID-19 is expected to have a lasting impact, with global auto sales not expected to recover to 2019 levels until 2025.

Bumpy road ahead

“The long-term trajectory has not changed, but the market will be bumpy for the next three years,” says Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport for BNEF.

Over that span, the market share for electric models is seen rising to 7 per cent in 2023, or 5.4 million units, up from 3 per cent of global car sales this year.

Looking further into the future, McKerracher sees accelerating gains for electric vehicles and a corresponding decline of the internal combustion engine. The BNEF report forecasts EVs accounting for 58 per cent of new passenger car sales in 2040, while making up 31 per cent of the global car fleet.

Most buses will be electric

Similar trends are also foreseen in other vehicles.

By 2040, 67 per cent of municipal buses are projected to be EVs, for example, along with 47 per cent of two-wheel scooters and 24 per cent of light commercial vehicles.

That trajectory is also expected to include an eventual drop in overall passenger vehicle sales. The report suggests that global sales of internal combustion vehicles “peaked in 2017 and will continue their long-term decline after a temporary post-crisis recovery,” whereas overall passenger vehicle sales will peak in 2036.