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The World Hit ‘Peak’ Gas-Powered Vehicle Sales — in 2017

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Photo Courtesy Kindel Media

(Bloomberg) —

Global sales of internal-combustion-engine vehicles have fallen each year since 2017 thanks to electric cars taking up a growing share.

The result: The world has hit “peak” gas-powered vehicle sales, said Colin McKerracher, BloombergNEF’s head of transport and automotive analysis, at the group’s summit Tuesday in San Francisco. Since that peak in 2017, gas-powered vehicle sales have dropped 23%. At the same time, EV sales have steadily risen.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, they made up 20% of new passenger cars sold, according to BNEF, though some countries and regions saw EVs make even greater inroads. Notably, EVs made up more than 35% of all vehicles sold in China. The country is one of 23 that have surpassed the so-called “EV tipping point” of 5% of new car sales powered by electricity. The world spent $634 billion on EVs in 2023, a 36% rise compared to the previous year, a BNEF report released Tuesday showed. That made it the largest clean sector, surpassing renewable energy.

Read More: Global Clean Energy Spending Surges to $1.8 Trillion. It’s Not Enough

Despite the rapid uptick in EV adoption, gas-powered cars still make up the vast majority of overall sales. BNEF projects that the world will have nearly 60 million EVs on the road at the end of this year. Yet that represents just 4% of the global vehicle fleet, a statistic that underscores the challenge the industry faces in ridding carbon. The new BNEF report found that clean-energy investments as a whole are far from getting the world on track to reach net-zero. While $1.8 trillion flowed to decarbonization in 2023, BNEF projects that the world will need to invest more than $4.8 trillion in cleaner tech annually between 2024 and 2030.

In the US, auto sales are projected to grow to 15.9 million vehicles this year, up from 15.5 million in 2023, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association, an industry trade group. The vast majority of those sales will be internal combustion vehicles. Cox Automotive expects EV sales in the US to to grow, but only to about 10% of total deliveries.

To contact the author of this story:
Brian Kahn in San Francisco at

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.


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