7 questions about major electric vehicle trends

Electric vehicles still play a marginal role in the global stock of automobiles, but it's growing.

Joëlle Noreau | Senior Economist

If technology keeps improving at the pace we've been seeing in recent years, by around 2025, the cost to buy an electric vehicle (EV) could compete with the price of a conventional vehicle, in many countries. 

To get a picture of the global situation, here's a summary of major trends, in the form of 7 questions.

1. With increased sales and production, it feels like EVs are taking over the market. But are they, really? 
Actually, this growth could slow. Several questions arise: 
  • Are the current infrastructures of all countries capable of accommodating these new vehicles (i.e., electricity production and charging stations)?
  • Will the middle class be able to afford EVs? 
  • Will the components needed to produce rechargeable batteries be available at a reasonable price?
2. What's the situation in Quebec? 
As at December 31, 2017, Quebec had 21,812 electric vehicles on the road:
  • 10,054 fully electric (46%)
  • 11,758 hybrid electric (54%)
3 models make up a little over 60% of the market1 : 
  • Chevrolet Volt (37%)
  • Nissan Leaf (17%)
  • Tesla Model S (7%)
In 2017, 8,358 new electric vehicles hit Quebec's roads. 
3. And globally? 
Sales growth: 
  • Around $0.65 million to $0.75 million in 2016 
About $1 million in 2017, which is approximately 3 million electric vehicles out of 1 billion total vehicles for the global stock of automobiles.

Top EV countries*
  • China has the most electric vehicles in circulation, with about 650,000 vehicles2, a third of the global stock.
  • In Norway, 29% of vehicles purchased were electric.
4. What financial assistance is available for consumers?
The Quebec Government's Drive Electric program offers a rebate of up to $8,000 to buy or lease an electric vehicle. 

A rebate of up to $600 is available to purchase and install a home charging station. 

Under the Used Vehicles Pilot Project, you could get a rebate of up to $4,000 to buy a used fully electric vehicle.

5. Do we anticipate an impact on the economy? 
Besides increased energy consumption, some estimate there will be a higher demand for raw materials like lithium, cobalt, rare earth metals, graphite, nickel, copper and many others. 

We're also seeing more and more EV manufacturers trying to secure their supply by investing in mines in various regions of the world. 

6. Is everyone on board with electric vehicles? 
Not necessarily: For some, it's more important to "stabilize" the size of the automobile stock than to introduce new, cleaner vehicles. Others think that new technologies require more resources than older ones, for the same production of energy. 

7. Is it too soon to talk about a major disruption? 
Electric vehicles still play a marginal role in the global stock of automobiles, but it's growing. However, there remains a lot to be done, both in terms of technology and adoption by potential buyers.

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1 According to the Association des véhicules électriques du Québec (AVÉQ)
2 According to the International Energy Agency (IEA)
* in 2016

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