Who is leading the shift away from internal combustion engine cars?

Which country is leading the trend towards electric cars?

Which countries are leading the transition from internal combustion engine cars to electric cars? — Mike B., Austin, Texas

BYD leads sales in China, and its vehicles are starting to appear elsewhere in the world, such as the Shark pickup truck that is manufactured and sold in Mexico.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery that can be charged from an external source. No exhaust is emitted from the tailpipe, and there are no fuel tanks or other liquid fuel components. Globally, China is leading the shift to electric vehicles in terms of sheer numbers. But other countries are further ahead in terms of per capita switching to electric vehicles.

China has a 29% share of electric vehicle sales and a huge number of fast charging stations available to the public. There are 760,000 charging stations across the country, almost six times the number of charging stations combined in other countries! In June 2024, China unveiled a package of tax breaks worth $73.65 billion over four years to motivate Chinese citizens to buy electric cars and other environmentally friendly cars.

(Note: The Tesla Model Y was the best-selling car of all types – not just electric cars – in the world in 2023. It was produced on three continents – North America, China and Europe.)

Other measurements

Sweden has a higher share of electric vehicle sales than China (54%) but has fewer publicly available charging stations (2,600). People who own battery electric cars in Sweden pay the lowest road tax and are exempt from property tax for five years. Norway has the highest share of electric vehicle sales (88 percent) and the most publicly available charging stations (9,100). However, the annual increase in EV sales in Norway was about 36 percent from 2021 to 2022. Compare that with China (about 63 percent) and Sweden (about 68 percent).

China, Sweden and Norway are the clear leaders in electric vehicle adoption, but it’s also interesting to note which countries produce the most electric vehicle batteries. The battery supply chain starts in mines, where the raw materials that contain the necessary components are extracted. These materials must be processed and refined, then turned into battery cells, assembled into modules and sold to automakers. Most electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries because of their high energy-to-weight ratio and long life. China has 62.5% of the world’s lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity, Germany 11.3% and the United States 6.3%.

Electric vehicle production leaders

Other countries are still leading the production of electric vehicles after the batteries reach automakers. China ranks first in automobile production, followed by Japan and India. Some automakers have formed partnerships with battery manufacturers to produce their own batteries. Nio, Tesla’s competitor in China, is one example of this. They also have a new battery swapping system that avoids the need for long battery charging times.

Chinese automaker Nio is challenging Tesla and BYD in China

Electric vehicles are gaining momentum in Africa as well. About two years ago, the Ethiopian government provided incentives for Ethiopians to adopt electric vehicles, including exemption from several types of taxes. People have been further stimulated by increasing restrictions on internal combustion imports, which are set to be completely banned in the near future. Ethiopia originally set a target of having 150,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030. Since 100,000 electric vehicle deployments have already been surpassed, the target has been rounded to 500,000!

By purchasing an electric vehicle, you can support global efforts to transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. Educate yourself about rebates, tax incentives, and other programs in your state to make the switch to an electric vehicle easier.


EV leaders

All-electric 2030 goals

State policies on electric vehicles,

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 non-profit organization EarthTalk, which welcomes donations. See more in E Magazine. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

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