It’s no surprise that EV usage is growing much faster in some countries than in others. A recent report from IHS Automotive comparing EV uptake in eight of the world’s most advanced economies shows huge differences not only in the market share of plug-in vehicles, but also in the specific models favored by consumers.
Most (but not all) of the wealthy countries offer various packages of incentives to promote plug-in purchases, and other studies have found that such incentives are generally effective.
Predictably, Norway takes the top spot in IHS’s most recent ranking. EVs and PHEVs represented a third of all new vehicles registered there during the first quarter of 2015, a 41-percent increase from the same period in 2014.
“No import taxes on EVs, among other incentives, have made these vehicles a viable alternative to internal combustion engine vehicles in Norway,” IHS said in its analysis, adding that the Volkswagen e-Golf was Norwegians’ favorite plug-in.
In the number-two spot is the Netherlands, where plug-ins took 5.7 percent of the market. The Dutch favor the VW Golf GTE PHEV.
In third place is the UK, where plug-in vehicles have a market share of 1.2 percent, led by the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
In terms of absolute volume, the US and China recorded the highest number of new registrations, with around 15,000 in the US, and 13,000 in China. However, these are comparatively small numbers in the world’s largest and second-largest auto markets: 0.8 percent in the US and 0.3 percent in China.
In some of the countries that haven’t seen strong plug-in sales, there’s a bit of hand-wringing going on. A Canadian team of researchers recently painted a pessimistic picture of plug-in purchases in that country, and called for the government to adopt something along the lines of California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate.
Another country that’s pretty far down the list is South Korea, which had about 3,000 electric vehicles at the end of 2014. The Korea Herald recently reported that, although the government has been making an effort to encourage green driving – the Environment Ministry has proposed a budget of 150 billion won ($130 million) for purchase subsidies – industry watchers believe more is needed.
“A major paradigm shift is necessary for Korea to drive up the number of eco-friendly vehicles in the country,” said Kim Pil-soo, a Professor of Automotive Engineering at Daelim University.