Which Countries Are Leading the Electric Vehicle Revolution?

Carlos Huerta

Table of Contents
    Figure 1: Gas pump Vs. EV Charger – Source: Exponentia

    Electric Vehicles (EVs) have been rapidly shaking the automotive industry, shifting things around and showing extremely positive benefits compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. The ongoing changes that have occurred thanks to the inclusion of all-electric vehicles in the automotive market have created such an important movement that it acquired the name of EV Revolution. Let us find out more about it and learn which countries are the most important players in this transition.

    What Is the EV Revolution?

    Figure 2: EV question sign – Source: New York Times

    The EV revolution is an environmental, technological, and social movement that aims to replace traditional transportation sector vehicles to fully electric vehicles. ICE vehicles have been a constant source of pollution,  releasing tons of CO2 and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for decades with no regard for the impact on the environment.

    As the result of a rising need for more efficient vehicles that released lower GHG emissions, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) appeared in the automotive market as a mass production option in 2008. The first available model for customer retail acquisition was the Tesla Roadster. For a few years, battery electric vehicles were seen entirely as luxury vehicles, but as years go by, automakers have achieved producing better and more accessible pure-electric vehicles which has boosted interested from the population.

    Why Is the EV Revolution so Important?

    Figure 3: Effects of climate change – Source: NOAA

    Battery electric propulsion vehicles or EVs are one of the leading solutions to mitigate climate change, one of the biggest and most important threats to humans on Earth. Climate change threatens life as we know it by causing all types of havoc including extreme (hot and cold) temperatures, severe storms, increased drought, rising oceans, loss of species, food shortages, health risks, increased poverty, and more.

    With climate change constantly threatening to change life as we know it, it is necessary to shift things around by reducing all types of GHG emissions that are accelerating this terrible phenomenon. The best way to do it is by relying on full-electric vehicles, which are vehicles releasing zero tailpipe emissions and have the potential to greatly reduce the 24% GHG emissions caused by the transport sector.

    EVs have at least 43% lower GHG emissions than ICE vehicles and feature a lower lifetime climate impact compared to ICE vehicles. Truth is that if countries around the world join to tackle climate change by joining the EV revolution, it is possible to reduce current transportation sector GHG emissions down to 80% or 90% of the current levels by 2050, making it an extremely important and a positive change for humankind.

    Countries Leading the EV Revolution

    Now in order for this EV revolution to success, multiple actors in the world that have an essential role to play. In this section, you will find which countries are crucial to make this transition to an electrified transportation sector in a short time and you will learn what is their role in the electric vehicle industry.

    Figure 4: China flag – Source: Al-Mesbar

    It might come as a surprise to many considering that China is a heavily polluting country, but this is the main country leading the EV revolution on many fronts. In 2016 alone, China bought more EVs than the rest of the world put together. This parameter repeated itself in 2021 when China bought almost half of the EVs sold that year, acquiring 3.5 million units from 6.8 million units sold worldwide.

    Considering the large number of EVs sold in China, it is no surprise that it is also the country with the largest EV charging infrastructure worldwide. By the end of 2022, China had over 5.21 million EV charging point stalls located around the whole country.

    China is also helping the EV revolution on many other fronts, especially in manufacturing. From 2018 to 2023, it was estimated that china produced around 13,008,000 All-electric vehicle units. China is also responsible for refining raw materials, packaging, and assembling battery cells, one of the most vital components in EVs.

    United States

    Figure 5: US flag – Source: USA Today

    The United States is another very  important player in the EV revolution, being another country with one of the largest numbers of EVs sold worldwide at 631,000 units in 2021. The U.S. is also the third country producing the largest number of battery electric automobile units worldwide, having produced an accumulated of 4,143,000 units in total from 2018 to 2023, which is no surprise considering that the U.S.-born battery electric car brand Tesla is leading the market by producing more EVs than all other brands put together.

    The incentives & policies is another front where the U.S. is leading the EV revolution.  There is great support for U.S. citizens looking to make the switch to e-mobility, especially regarding the $7,500 tax incentive offered for acquiring an EV, local incentives offered per state, and the incentives available for acquiring EV charging stations.

    The U.S. has also provided heavy funding towards the research & development of EVs. It is estimated that the Vehicle Technology Office (VTO) of the U.S. Department of Energy has granted more than $500 million through different programs for the research & development of EV batteries, EV charging stations, electric powertrains, and more.


    Figure 6: German Bundestag – Source: bundestag

    For such a small country, Germany is one of the most important countries leading the EV revolution regarding the number of EVs sold. In 2021, Germany bought around 696,000 units from the 6.8 million units sold around the world (about 10% of the market share), currently having more than 1 million EVs in the country and an ambitious goal of obtaining an accumulated 15 million pure electric vehicle units by 2030.

    Germany also leads the EV revolution by being the second largest full-electric vehicle manufacturer worldwide, having produced around 4,408,000 units from 2018 to 2023, it also fits a large number of electric vehicle charging stations, being the second country with the largest electric vehicle Recharging Point infrastructure in Europe.

    An important mention goes not only to Germany but to the whole Europe Union, for banning ICE vehicle sales entirely starting in 2035.


    Figure 7: Norway flag – Source: Life in Norway.

    Norway may not be producing the largest number of full electric vehicle units or feature as a major producer of pure EV parts, but this country is one of the most important ones on the list.

    Since 1990, Norway has been instating incentives and policies to promote the usage of full-electric vehicles instead of ICE vehicles, with the VAT exemption. From 2023, the VAT exemption applies only to the first $50,000 (500,000 Krones) of the price of the vehicle.

    You probably already know this from that funny Super Bowl LV commercial with Will Ferrel, but it is so cheap to own an electric battery vehicle in Norway, that it is the country with more battery-electric vehicle units per capita at around 81% for every 1,000 residents. Other important mentions on this front go to Iceland and Sweden.  


    Figure 8: Netherlands flag – Source: Amsterdam Fox

    Next to Norway, the Netherlands is another important country leading the battery-only electric vehicle industry. This country is the fourth country with the highest number of battery-powered electric vehicle units per capita in the world, but its most important achievement is its EV charging infrastructure.

    Netherlands currently is the country with the densest electric vehicle recharge point infrastructure in Europe, fitting 90,000 EV charge station units in just 41,000 square meters, and is the European country with more Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) in the continent followed by Germany.


    Figure 9: Australian flag – Source: House of flags

    Australia supports the EV uptake by delivering interesting incentives for its citizens, featuring a decent EV charging infrastructure, and in 2022 alone acquiring around 33,410 battery-electric vehicle units, but its major contribution (and a highly important one) to the EV revolution is not on the sales or the incentives, but the lithium.

    Australia is currently the largest lithium producer in the world, the most important material used to produce batteries essential for producing a battery electric vehicle. Australia currently produces more than 50% of the lithium worldwide and exports around 90% of it to China for battery production.

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