How and When Will Electric Cars Replace Fossil-Fuelled Cars? Part 2

I explained previously that I believe that it is possible to predict future adoption rates and market share of sales for EVs. Specifically, I proposed that a suitable approach would be to apply what we know of EV market share so far to a suitably scaled innovation adoption S-curve on the core assumption that EVs will follow a suitable uptake to iPods, smartphones, flat-screen televisions and other consumer technologies.

The particular S-curve being considered is a form of logistic function, so named by the French mathematician Pierre François Verhulst who studied it in relation to population growth. The initial stage of growth is approximately exponential; then, as saturation begins, the growth slows, and at maturity, growth stops.

Figure 1: Projected UK Electric Car Sales Market Share (Image: T. Larkum)
Figure 1: Projected UK Electric Car Sales Market Share (Image: T. Larkum)

I don’t want to get bogged down in mathematical details so it should suffice to say that we are solving an equation of the form:
Projection_EVSales-Logistic_General_TLarkum
where we are trying to find x, essentially a scale factor, so that the market share for a particular year y matches what we expect (i.e. the known market share for electric vehicles since their recent relaunch). Finding a match also gives us the year from which to count y.

We know the monthly market share values for EVs for recent years so from the same source we can get annual totals. For the purpose of this discussion I am considering only the UK sales for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 since the recent market growth was kick-started by the UK government’s Plug-In Car Grant which began on 1 January 2011. The figures I have from SMMT for 2011, 2012 and 2013 are given in Table 1. For 2014 I am using the latest figure reported, that for March 2014.

Table 1: UK Electric Car Market Share and Sales (Image: T. Larkum)
Table 1: UK Electric Car Market Share and Sales (Image: T. Larkum)

From an analysis of the results of various values for the scale factor I have come to the value of x = 0.498 as the best match. In other words, based on the limited data so far, if EV sales market share is following a technology adoption S-curve and if it continues to do so then I predict sales market share to be:

Projection_EVSales-Logistic_Specific_TLarkum

On this basis I have added into Table 1 the market share of sales that this gives for the known years, so it is possible to judge how well it fits. In addition, I have shown what it predicts for representative future years. Further, I have shown what this translates to in terms of sales of electric cars (assuming the UK market continues at its current rate of two million car sales per year). The market share values are also charted in Figure 1.

In broad brushstrokes, here are some interesting projections that this result gives us:

  • The changeover from internal combustion engine cars to electric cars will take 32 years, from 2010 to 2042.
  • The key year is 2026 – in this year more than half of all cars sold will be electric. In other words, in 2026 the default type of car sold is the electric car, with other fuel types in the minority.
  • In 2014 we are already 4 years in to the changeover, so there are just 12 years left until the 2026 crossover point.
  • Although the complete changeover (so that effectively ICE cars are no longer sold) takes a considerable amount of time, even by 2030 some nine out of ten cars sold will be electric.
  • It is expected that sales at the start are low, as they currently are, but they will rise quickly. Market share of new sales will be just 2% by 2018 but 5% by 2020 and 25% by 2024.
  • The decade from 2020 to 2030 will see a dramatic influx of electric cars, from 5% of new cars in 2020 to 90% in 2030.

Home Forums How and When Will Electric Cars Replace Fossil-Fuelled Cars? Part 2

This topic contains 6 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  mgjackson 2 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #8356

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    I explained previously that I believe that it is possible to predict future adoption rates and market share of sales for EVs. Specifically, I proposed
    [See the full post at: How and When Will Electric Cars Replace Fossil-Fuelled Cars? Part 2]

    #8368

    Surya
    Participant

    I think you could be right. Not everyone agrees though. Some think it will take way longer, others think it will be going much faster: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1089325_electric-cars-so-disruptive-gas-cars-will-be-obsolete-in-2016-says-futurist (the video is in German, but you can turn on subtitles)

    I think your prediction is one of the more realistic ones, it falls in line with what I feel can be achieved. I hope it goes faster though 🙂

    One thing is for certain: 2014 seems like it’ll be the best year for EVs so far!

    #8370

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    I am encouraged by the fact that, even under my fairly optimistic scheme, the predicted market share for the end of 2014 was achieved last month (though of course it might have been a one-off).

    #8373

    Surya
    Participant

    And in Belgium the YTD numbers for pure EVs have already reached the total of 2013, so we’re seeing a big increase as well!

    #16187

    Smidge69
    Participant

    Maybe in the distant future when there are less and less ICE’s on the road, and they are more and more efficient there will come a tipping point whereby the economics of petrol stations makes no sense and they start closing in droves. ICE’s then get range anxiety and refuelling inconvenience – at which point people start scrapping ICEs before they normally would in order to get an EV. Petrol station chains would need ideas for what to do with their space as demand for petrol sales drops off (e.g. mini retail parks, including ecommerce pick up services like doddle, that are worth visiting even if you dont want to refuel, and with lots of fast chargers)

    #16188

    ‎D
    Participant

    I think incentives will play a huge part on how fast adopting continues.

    Check out this graph of the impact of the end of the $5,000 credit on EV sales in British Columbia:

    Impact of the end of the $5,000 credit on EV sales in British Columbia

    More info here:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1094468_when-electric-car-incentives-expire-a-case-study-in-canada

    I hope the incentives remain while sales pick up; would be nice to walk around cities and not have so much noise and pollution!

    #16200

    mgjackson
    Participant

    I think, as Surya’s article eludes to, is that there needs to be an ‘iPhone moment’ where public perception is completely changed.

    I’m in a ‘Lads Only’ Facebook group and any posting I make about my Defender gets lots of likes, however a posting about my Zoe gets a surprising amount of hate and vitriol, despite one vehicle being a 70 year old design where they never really managed to stop the driver getting wet when it rains, and the other one of the most technology advanced cars ever made.

    Tesla make some inroads by marketing their EV as a ‘super car’ thus making it desirable, if unaffordable for most. But for now Haters are gonna hate and doubters are gonna doubt.

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