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E-mobility has come a long way in a very short time. No longer merely an exception to the rule, the opportunity to “go electric” is by now a very realistic and attractive option for anyone looking to invest in a new car. To find out what the future of mobility holds, and to offer you a comprehensive overview of today’s e-mobility world map, we took a deeper dive into some of the most interesting and eye-opening facts from all corners of our globe.
China is not only the world’s largest automobile market, with annual sales north of 20 million units a year placing it well ahead of the former champion, the United States. It is also the world’s largest electric car market, with more than 1.2 million units sold in 2019. Overall, more than 3.4 million battery electric vehicles – or BEVs – can be found on Chinese roads, or more than 45 percent of all BEVs worldwide. And that number is only set to grow. In June 2020 alone, more than 88,000 brand new BEVs hit the roads of the Chinese mainland. The impressive growth is in part spurred by Chinese policy ambitions, which actively push for greener energy solutions to environmental challenges caused primarily by growing urbanization. This in turn has paved the way for an overall goal by Chinese authorities to have BEVs take up a 30 percent market share by 2030.
However, looking at BEV penetration – that is the ratio of BEVs on the roads relative to the overall number of sold cars every year – Norway takes pole position. The Scandinavian country has long been a global leader in these statistics, and remains at the top with more than 55 percent of all new cars on the roads being electric vehicles. This is a clear leading position, followed in a distant second place by Iceland at 22.6 percent. To accommodate the sharp increase in BEVs in the Scandinavian country, charging infrastructure is also steadily growing. At the moment a bit more than 2,500 operating charging stations can be found across the nation.
Albania may still have some way to go before it reaches anywhere near the same penetration rate as Norway, but it does have perhaps the best overall condition for the nation to go fully electric in the future. This is because 100 percent of Albania’s electricity is generated from clean, green hydroelectric power. In other words, Albania – while insignificant in absolute and even relative terms when it comes to BEVs – has everything in place to provide a future fleet of BEVs with green energy, including the best thinkable preconditions for an extensive and sustainably powered charging grid. Overall, this could lead to Albania seeing its entire road-ready fleet go electric in the years to come, without jeopardizing the environmental impact – at least in theory.
Not considering where the energy actually comes from, a crucial development for electric drivers all across the globe is the continued proliferation of publicly available charging stations. And here, the Netherlands is quite literally leading the charge, with more than 37,000 public charging stations, or one station per 459 inhabitants, as of February 2020. Its German neighbors are to be found in second place with a bit more than 27,000, followed by France with around 24,000, and the UK with just shy of 20,000. The total number of public charging stations spread across the European Union as of spring 2020 is a tad more than 170,000 – a number that is steadily growing as more and more governments and private actors invest in charging infrastructure across the European roadmap.
The United Kingdom may not top the rankings when it comes to BEV sales or public charging stations. But a proposal to introduce priority lanes for BEVs does warrant a closer look at how the Brits think about electromobility. The proposal, which first saw the day of light in 2016, introduced the idea that BEVs should be given priority lanes like buses and even priority at traffic lights in order to push the development of so-called “green city zones” in a handful of major UK cities. The proposal has yet to materialize into actual traffic legislation, and would have to be voted through by the individual city councils. But the idea itself is worth a special mention in this compilation and thus a place on our electric world map.
The most common battery types used for electric vehicles are lithium-ion and lithium polymer batteries. This is because of lithium’s high energy density and storage qualities, compared to its relatively small weight. But where does the lithium itself come from? The short answer is: Down Under. With an annual output of more than 40,000 metric tons of lithium, Australia occupies the top spot of all lithium-producing countries worldwide. Chile finds itself in second place at 18,000 metric tons, thanks to its massive reserves deep in the Atacama deserts in the north of the Andean country. Runners up are China, Argentina and Zimbabwe, making sure that the overall global output of “white gold” reaches almost 90,000 metric tons every year – a number that is set to grow exponentially over the next decades.
Germany is one of the countries with the most ambitious policy roadmaps for electromobility. According to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, an ambitious strategy for the growing electromobility sector is paramount in the fight against climate change. This strategy includes a number of goals and benchmarks, and above all, heavy investments. 210 million euros have been earmarked for R&D alone, with the expectation that more than 1 million BEVs will be found on German roads by the end of 2020. In total, 2.2 billion euros have been invested in electromobility R&D since 2009, with the backing of four different ministries. For drivers, financial incentives have been introduced to boost BEV sales to the tune of 600 million euros. Add to this, 300 million euros invested in the expansion of charging point infrastructure and another 100 million euros invested by the federal government in its own vehicle fleet, so that BEVs make up 20 percent of total fleet vehicles.
Author: David Barnwell; Illustrations: Russlan