Automakers and analysts often wonder when U.S. electric car sales might one day take off after years of slow growth. But in China and Europe, that moment may already have come.
Both EV markets appear to have hit their inflection points in the last two years, the head of electrified transport for BloombergNEF said Monday at the research firm’s annual San Francisco summit.
In both, electric cars accounted for about 4% of new vehicle sales at the end of 2019, according to the presentation by Aleksandra O’Donovan.
Last year, their proportion of all new car sales hit 15% in China and 20% in Europe.
BNEF didn’t expect such rapid growth, O’Donovan said. In trying to understand why BNEF’s forecasts had missed the mark, she said the firm’s analysts realized that consumer demand in both China and Europe is now driving sales, not just public policy by governments trying to fight climate change.
Chinese buyers took home 3.3 million new electric cars last year, while Europeans bought 2.3 million.
“It hit us that these two markets have hit their inflection points,’’ O’Donovan told attendees of the summit.
“What we know now is that this inflection point happens when consumers get excited around electric cars.”
That point, she said, can arrive when EVs account for 10% or more of new passenger vehicle sales.
So which countries or regions may be next?
O’Donovan said South Korea passed the 10% mark in the third quarter. North America, meanwhile, ended the year under 8% – but growing.