Non-electric vehicle sales may have peaked globally, says new research


Research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) said the world was already speeding towards Labor’s target.

“Sales of internal combustion passenger vehicles may have already peaked and may never recover,” BNEF said in its 2019 Global Electric Vehicle Outlook released on Wednesday.

By 2040, BNEF expects nearly 60 per cent of all new car sales, and almost a third of all cars, to be electric.

“Passenger electric vehicle sales will rise from 2 million in 2018 to 10 million in 2025, 28 million in 2030 and 56 million by 2040,” it said.

BNEF’s head of advanced transport, Colin McKerracher, said the “conclusions are stark for fossil fuel use in road transport”.

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“Electrification will still take time because the global fleet changes over slowly but, once it gets rolling in the 2020s, it starts to spread to many other areas of road transport. We see a real possibility that global sales of conventional passenger cars have already passed their peak,” Mr Kerracher said.

The main driver for this will be the cost of electric vehicles – one of the biggest hurdles for consumers – falling to parity with high end fuel-powered cars by 2020, as well as an increase in available models.

Despite aggressive growth of EV passenger vehicles, BNEF said heavy trucks are less likely to be battery-powered. Fewer than a fifth of heavy trucks – such as long-haul freight or mining vehicles – will be EVs by 2040, instead, they would likely be powered by natural gas or hydrogen.

BNEF said the forecast increase in electric vehicles could cause electricity consumption levels to grow by 6.8 per cent globally, potentially putting a strain on the grid.

An Australian energy analyst, who preferred to be unnamed, said Australia was likely to see a slower uptake of EVs but it may still cause a strain on the grid unless it begins to prepare for an influx of electric vehicles.

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“By 2030, there would be between 4 and 4.5 million electric vehicles on the road in the most aggressive uptake case,” the analyst said.

“If they use around 5-megawatt hours of electricity a year, it could create about 20 to 25 terawatt hours of additional demand to the grid, for about 200 terawatt hours over 10 years.”

Over the past 10 years, Australians on the east coast used an average of about 200 terawatt hours of electricity a year. In the 2016-17 financial year, Australia generated 258 terawatt hours of energy.

Covering energy and policy at Fairfax Media.

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