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electric mobility

01 June 2021

Electric cars are better for the planet and for people’s wallet, and they are expanding rapidly.

The main difference between a conventional car and a 100% electric car is that the electric car produces no CO2 emissions while driving. Even if the electricity used is produced from a fossil source, the electric car wins in environmental performance. 

Electric vehicles are thus better for the climate than ICE-powered cars, but some consumers are still reluctant to buy them because they seem to be more expensive. 

However, as reported in a recent New York Times article, fresh data shows that despite the higher upfront cost, electric cars may save drivers money in the long-run. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculated both the CO2 emissions and full lifetime cost — including purchase price, maintenance and fuel — for nearly every new car model on the market. They found that electric cars were not only more climate friendly than ICE-powered ones but in the long run they were often cheaper, too. 

To help people better understand the differences, in 2018 EDP launched the EV.X app, which supplies users with the potential financial savings and carbon reductions that they could capture if they were to drive an EV instead of their standard internal combustion vehicle. 

Indeed, there are many economic benefits attached to EVs that compensate the upfront cost, such as the decreasing prices of batteries, financial incentives, tax benefits, reduction of parking costs in some cities, EVs getting into the used market, lower repair and maintenance costs, lower energy costs than fuel or diesel, among others.

It seems that people are starting to understand this as, although the global share of electric mobility is still small, recent numbers show that the EV fleet is expanding quickly. 

The electric vehicles market is living a strong momentum despite the pandemic. As reported in the IEA’s Global EV Outlook 2021, there were 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads at the end of 2020, following a decade of rapid growth. It was a pivotal year for the electrification of mass market transportation. Electric car registrations increased by 41% in 2020, despite the pandemic-related worldwide downturn in car sales in which global car sales dropped 16%. Around 3 million electric cars were sold globally (a 4.6% sales share), and Europe overtook China as the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) market for the first time. Electric bus and truck registrations also expanded in major markets, reaching global stocks of 600 000 and 31 000 respectively. 

What explains the resilience of EV sales in the face of the pandemic? According to the IEA, mainly three aspects: 

  • Supportive regulatory frameworks: even before the pandemic many countries were strengthening key policies such as CO2 emissions standards and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandates. By the end of 2020, more than 20 countries had announced bans on the sales of conventional cars or mandated all new sales to be ZEVs.
  • Additional incentives to safeguard EV sales from the economic downturn: some European countries increased their purchase incentives and China delayed the phase-out of its subsidy scheme.
  • The number of EV models expanded and battery costs continued to fall.

The IEA also reports that in the first-quarter of 2021, global electric car sales rose by around 140% compared to the same period in 2020, driven by sales in China of around 500 000 vehicles and in Europe of around 450 000. US sales more than doubled relative to the first-quarter of 2020, albeit from a much lower base. 

Everything indicates that we will see more EVs on the world’s roads in the years to come!

But even with the EV deployment success and the continuously decreasing costs thanks to advances in battery technology and mass manufacturing, reaching the climate goals is still a tough challenge and additional actions need to be taken to accelerate the transition. 

For instance, convenient and affordable publicly accessible chargers will be increasingly important as EVs scale up and will require further support from governments. As the IEA points out, Governments will also need to put in place policies to further accelerate electrification by promoting the roll-out of zero-emission vehicles in the medium-and heavy-duty vehicle segments and the corresponding fast-charging infrastructure. These segments have faced slower adoption compared with light-duty vehicles due to high energy demands, large battery capacity requirements and limited availability of vehicle models. But, as mentioned in the IEA’s Global EV Outlook 2021, now the landscape is changing with advances in battery technology, bigger variety of models available and policies to support ZEV uptake in the HDV segment, and demand is expected to surge in this decade.  

Making the 2020s the decade of transition to EVs entails more ambition and action among policy makers, market leaders and followers.


To know more about the future of e-mobility and its pressing challenges, join the EDP Business Summit ’21.

Register now!

If you have any questions about the event please do not hesitate to contact us: business.summit@edp.com

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