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The US was the only major market where sales of new electric vehicles fell last year, new figures show.
Globally the number of new electric vehicles registered last year was up 45% to 3.1 million, according to data from the Munich Mobility Show (MMS), the expanded successor to the Frankfurt Motor Show, which is due to take place in September.
A shift away from gas-powered cars to an electrified fleet forms a central part of America’s 2050 climate goals, which it signed up to as part of the Paris Agreement. Among the goals in the accord is to make mobility climate neutral by 2050 at the latest.
The new figures indicate the depth of the challenge.
Rejoining the Paris accord was one of the first actions by President Joe Biden after his predecessor Donald Trump opted to remove the US from the deal.
The total number of new electric vehicles registered in the US dropped by 6% to 302,949 last year, according to the MMS data which was part of its first global ranking of e-mobility.
Like most countries, the coronavirus pandemic hobbled the sale of new cars in the US in 2020. Despite this, EV sales remained resilient in other markets.
In China, 1.25 million new EVs were registered in 2020 alone, a 15% increase. Elsewhere in Europe, registrations soared by 143% to 1.37 million, the first time the region has ever outsold China. Germany was second only to China in absolute numbers, recording 394,943 new registrations in 2020.
Norway, Iceland, and Sweden led the way in terms of market share with EVs accounting for 74.8%, 25.8%, and 20.8% of all vehicle sales respectively.
Just over a tenth of all registrations in the UK were EVs while in the US just 2.1% of vehicles were registered. For context, the worldwide average was around 4.6%.
The MMS data estimated that as many as 10 million electric vehicles are currently on the roads, more than 40% of these are based in China.
While the US may be lagging in terms of EV sales, President Biden has placed an emphasis on the renewable vehicles in his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. He has committed $174 billion worth of the plan to help US auto firms compete on a global scale. The plan also includes a commitment to the installation of 500,000 chargers across the US.
Automakers in the US already had made significant plans to ramp up the production of EVs. Elon Musk’s Tesla is currently developing another Gigafactory in Texas, to add to its massive facility in Fremont.
Earlier in the month Amazon-backed EV startup Rivian agreed a deal with Samsung SDI to produce battery cells for its vehicles while GM announced its second battery plant in the US with LG Chem.