Global sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) continue to see impressive growth, rising by almost a third in 2023, to 9.4 million units from just over 7 million the previous year.

An increase in model range and availability, as well as lower prices offset weaker consumer sentiment, negative headlines and a slight slowdown in total car sales in the second half.

BEV sales for December reached 1.05 million, from around 0.8 million in the corresponding period in 2022.

China remains the largest EV market with a 21% market share at 5.4 million units sold last year, despite the country ending an 11-year subsidy scheme for EV purchases in 2022 (some local authorities continued to incentivise customers by way of tax rebates and subsidies).

Europe saw sales rise to 2.09 million last year, although it registered disappointing sales for December, contracting year-on-year to 220,000 units from 280,000. Higher insurance costs and a static UK market contributed to this.

EV sales in the US, where EV uptake has been comparatively slower, totalled just over 1 million in 2023. Federal government spending has remained much lower than in other major markets in the past few years, according to the IEA, particularly as major carmakers such as Tesla and General Motors reached the cap on further subsidies.

On a yearly basis, nearly 13% of all cars sold globally in 2023 were BEVs. This compares with around 11% in 2022 and 7% in 2021.

When including hybrids (PHEVs), which are very popular in China due to ‘extended-range hybrids’ this figure rises to about 18%, with an almost one-third market share in China.

Elsewhere in 2023, consumers were also impacted by higher interest rates, which affected middle-income consumers faced with the comparative higher cost of an EV compared to an internal combustion (ICE) vehicle. A lack of charging infrastructure also remains a deal breaker for many when it comes to deciding whether to make the switch from an ICE vehicle.

Transitioning to low-carbon transportation is underway in many developed economies and set to surge in the coming years. Despite current concerns around a softening in demand and cost, Vitol still expects the sales share for EVs to reach around 40% by 2030 and over 80% by 2040.