Chart: Global EV sales more than doubled in 2021

And all signs point to exponential growth in the electric car market in 2022 and beyond.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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From prime-time Super Bowl ads to cameos on The Bachelor, electric cars suddenly seem to be everywhere. Global sales of electric cars hit 6.6 million in 2021, making up 8.6% of all new car sales, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). That’s more than double the market share from 2020, and up enormously from EVs’ 0.01% market share in 2010. (These figures include passenger cars, vans and light trucks.)

The vast majority of EV sales last year were in China, Europe and the U.S. China took the lead with 3.4 million new EVs sold. In fact, more electric cars were sold in China in 2021 than were sold in the entire world the year before. Europe saw 2.3 million EV sales in 2021. The United States had 700,000, more than double its figure from 2020. And the rest of the world combined saw 300,000 EV sales last year.

Still, as a percentage of all cars now on the world’s roads, EVs’ share remains tiny. In 2020, IEA estimates, EVs made up just 1% of the world’s total car fleet. After increased sales in 2021, that figure will now be higher, but not by much.

Fortunately, EVs’ market share is projected to keep growing exponentially. At least 10 automakers have announced plans to switch over completely to electric vehicles. This shift is crucial to the fight against climate change. The International Energy Agency’s roadmap for getting to net-zero emissions by 2050 calls for EVs to make up 25% of market share by 2025 and 60% by 2030.

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Maria Virginia Olano is chief of staff at Canary Media.