How far have EVs come on 'S-Curve'?

May 29, 2022 12:05 AM AEST | By Arpit Verma
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  • EV sales zoomed surprisingly to 6.6 million in 2021, more than doubling its sales in 2020.
  • The Cobalt demand for EVs overtook cell phones and other high-tech devices last year.
  • Currently, EVs are at their early projected growth trajectory, and considering the recent growth, the future of EVs seems to be bright.

Despite significant bottlenecks in the battery material supply chain, the global electric vehicle (EV) sector has evolved impressively over the last three years. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a mere 2.2 million EVs were sold in 2019, representing just 2.5% of global car sales. However, this figure zoomed surprisingly to 3 million, representing 4.1% of total car sales in 2020 and to 6.6 million in 2021, accounting for nearly 9% of the worldwide car market.

Additionally, a recent report published by the Cobalt Institute states that the cobalt demand for EVs overtook cell phones and other high-tech devices for the first time last year.

Related read: What are the hurdles in buying an electric car now? 

A need to decarbonise the planet and curtail carbon emissions to meet climate goals and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2050 has given wings to the skyrocketing EV demand.

How far have EVs come on 'S-Curve'?

Highly uneven growth

EV sales have grown rapidly over the past decade, but this growth has been highly uneven. China and Europe are leading at the front with sales in both regions excelling while other regions are progressing slowly or not at all.

EV sales growth

Source: © Edhardream |

The overall sales in China tripled to 3.4 million in 2021. At the same time, electric car sales in Europe increased nearly 70% in 2021 to 2.3 million. In general, electric cars reported almost 17% of total European sales in 2021, but there were significant differences across markets. In large developing economies like India, Brazil, and Indonesia, the share is still below 1%. Likewise in Japan, electric car sales barely increased, with its market share remaining below 1%.

Related read: From Toyota to Audi: How leading carmakers are planning to go 100% electric 

EVs and S-Curve

Experts across the globe believe that growth in EVs is likely to follow an S-Curve, where progress comes in stages. In a standard S-Curve, growth remains slow initially when the technology is new. However, with the reduction in cost and the development of complementary infrastructure, the growth becomes exponential and reaches a tipping point. Furthermore, with a gain in confidence, growth reaches its top speed then slows and levels out, as the technology becomes dominant.


Source: © Martinleber |

Currently, EVs are at their early projected growth trajectory with exponential growth coming but not at top speed. It is quite difficult to project the future of EVs, but prospects are encouraging, and considering the recent growth, the future of EVs seems to be bright.

Related read: Are electric vehicles really eco-friendly? 

Bottom Line

Global electric vehicle sales have grown impressively in the last three years. Experts across the globe believe that growth in EVs is likely to follow an S-Curve. Prospects for EV growth are encouraging and considering recent figures, the future of EVs is most likely to grow.


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