China buys one out of every two electric vehicles sold globally

Image: EPA-EFE/Roman Pilipey
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China’s overall car sales might be declining—but electric vehicle sales nearly doubled from the year before to cross one million for the first time.

In 2018, China’s electric vehicle (EV) sales, which include battery vehicles and plug-in hybrids, reached 1.2 million. That’s more than half the electric vehicles sold worldwide in the same period, according to data released last week by Germany’s nonprofit Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). 

China’s followed by the US, which purchased around 360,000 EVs last year, about a fifth of the total global sales.

Globally, the world now has about 5.6 million electric vehicles, according to ZSW.

China’s electric car sales growth comes as the world’s largest auto market has seen conventional car sales sputter—annual car sales dropped for the first time in 2018 in nearly three decades. Data out today (Feb. 18) showed that automobile sales dropped in January by nearly 16% compared with a year ago, while EV sales grew 140%.

The country started pushing green public transport a decade ago, and intense government support to the sector has included tax cuts for consumers and government subsidies for carmakers.

Now China is home to the world’s biggest EV maker by cumulative sales—although ZSW’s data shows Tesla’s Model 3 helped it edge ahead of BYD in 2018 sales. China’s a big market for Teslas, too, and the California-based firm is now setting up its first overseas Gigafactory in the country.

The government-affiliated China Association of Automobile Manufacturers expects EV sales to reach 1.6 million (link in Chinese) in 2019.

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