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Electric Vehicles on Roads Reach Two Million, Says IEA | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Image used for illustrative purpose. Computer science professor Christa Lopes’ Scion IQ electric car is plugged in her garage in Irvine, California. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

London- A report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that the number of electric cars worldwide reached over two million by the end of 2016, and that automakers sold 750,000 cars last year with 40 percent growth rate compared to 2015 sales.

In 2015, sales had grown by 50 percent compared to 2014. The Chinese market had around a 45 percent share of the 2016 sales with over 336,000 cars compared to 215,000 cars in Europe, and 160,000 in the United States.

In the few first months of 2017, sales grew by 37 percent in Europe and 18 percent in the United States till April.

Globally, 95 percent of electric car sales are taking place in just ten countries: China, the US, Japan, Canada, Norway, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Although China is the biggest auto market after the United States, it has topped the countries with high demand on electric cars driven by a government plans to reduce pollution.

The European market of electric cars relies on six countries providing fiscal exemptions to motivate people on buying such cars. In Norway, fiscal incentives reached 29 percent and other Europeans pay over 5000 or 6000 euro for each purchase of electric cars. In the Netherlands, electric cars had a 6.4 percent market share last year, while Sweden had 3.4 percent, according to the IEA report.

Still, electric vehicles only made up 0.2 percent of total passenger light-duty vehicles in the world, which means that for each 1,000 traditional vehicles, only two electric cars are being sold.

The report says that in order to limit global warming by the end of the century, the number of electric cars will need to reach 600 million by 2040. The electric cars industry should be gradually developed so 9 and 20 million electric cars could be deployed by 2020, and between 40 and 70 million by 2025, and so on till sales reach the set goal in 2040.

Analysts in this field said as this sector emerged few years ago, the view is still foggy, but, the growth rate is more expressive than figures. The sector will benefit from the support of motivating government measures for a long time. Big companies aiming to benefit from specific exemptions are the biggest users of electric cars.

However, individuals rarely choose them because of their high cost and non-efficient battery service.

Although the manufacturers’ offer and the technological development in this industry are growing, the electric is less competent than a thermal traditional vehicle, which sees continuous developments to reduce emissions ratio.

In this context, experts raise many questions on the efficiency of government support for electric cars, while a thermal car can contribute in reducing the gap of environmental effect. Some countries have reduced their support; in the State of Georgia which had around 17 percent of the share of US electric cars and offered people $5,000 support for each purchase, the concerned authorities started to reduce incentives. Denmark also has re-imposed taxes on those cars and dropped the support by 60 percent in the first four months of 2017.

The same was applied in China where the government reconsidered the fiscal incentives and their effect on the public fund; in France, a report released by the audit bureau wondered about the feasibility of the continuous support of this industry, while the use of electric cars saw a slight growth to 8 percent in 2016.

Researchers working in the traditional vehicles industry pointed out that automakers are trying to cope with the authorities calling for emission reduction not by investing in developing electric prototypes, but in deploying eco-friendly qualifications on thermal cars.

However, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) still calls on governments to increase support and incentives on electric vehicles regardless of their cost and the volatile oil prices. According to the IEA, thermal and electric cars should not be compared, rather they should be considered two integral industries.

However, other experts see that the 40 percent growth rate in 2016, was lower than rates between 2012-2015. They also considered that the two-million car figure is not accurate, because it includes the hybrid cars that work with two engines.

According to those experts, the industry of electric cars has reached a decisive point. It can continue with the government support with no clear vision for the future, or it can be left for free competition that will decide the industry’s future, development, and survival.