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Dear EarthTalk: Which countries are leading the shift from combustion engine cars to electric cars? –Mike B.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by an electric motor that draws electricity from a battery that can be charged from an external source. There is no exhaust coming out of the tailpipe and there are no fuel tanks or other liquid fuel components. Globally, China is leading the transition to electric vehicles in terms of numbers. But other countries are further ahead in the per capita shift to electric vehicles.

China has a 29 percent EV sales share and an impressive number of publicly available fast-charging stations. There are 760,000 charging stations nationwide – almost six times more than all charging stations combined in other countries! In June 2024, China unveiled a package of tax breaks worth $73.65 billion over four years to encourage Chinese citizens to buy electric cars and other greener vehicles.

Sweden has a larger share of EV sales than China (54 percent), but fewer publicly available charging stations (2,600). People with electric cars in Sweden pay the least road tax and are exempt from property tax for five years. Norway has the highest share of electric vehicle sales (88 percent) and many publicly available charging stations (9,100). However, the annual increase in EV sales in Norway was approximately 36 percent between 2021 and 2022. Compare that to China (about 63 percent) and Sweden (about 68 percent).

China, Sweden and Norway are clear leaders in EV adoption, but it is also interesting to note which countries produce the most EV batteries. The battery supply chain starts in the mines, where raw materials containing the necessary components are extracted. These materials must be processed and refined, then made into battery cells, assembled into modules and then sold to car manufacturers. Most EVs use lithium-ion batteries because they have a high power-to-weight ratio and a long lifespan. China has 62.5 percent of global lithium-ion production capacity, Germany 11.3 percent and the United States 6.3 percent.

Still other countries are leading the production of EV vehicles after the batteries reach car manufacturers. China is the top country in terms of car production, followed by Japan and India. Some automakers have partnered with battery manufacturers to produce their own batteries. NIO, the equivalent of Tesla in China, is one such example.

Electric cars are also gaining popularity in Africa. About two years ago, the Ethiopian government introduced incentives for Ethiopians to adopt electric vehicles, including exemption from several types of taxes. People were further encouraged by stricter restrictions on the import of combustion products, which will be completely banned in the near future. Ethiopia originally set a goal of having 150,000 electric cars on the road by 2030. Since the 100,000 mark has already been exceeded, the goal is closer to 500,000!

By purchasing an electric vehicle, you can support the global effort to transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. Inform yourself about rebates, tax breaks and other programs in your country to make the switch to an electric car easier.

CONTACTS: EV Leaders, https://www.drive-electric.co.uk/press/Which-country-is-leading-the-way-in-the-future-of-electric/; All-electric 2030 goals, https://spectrum.ieee.org/ev-adoption-2030-goals; State Electric Vehicle Policy, https://www.ncsl.org/energy/state-policies-promoting-hybrid-and-electric-vehicles.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. To donate, visit https://earthtalk.org. Send questions to: [email protected].


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