September saw a 55% year-on-year increase in global plug-in electric vehicle sales. And that figure is by no means an anomaly—at least according to a new report from EV-Volumes. As the graph above shows, every month of the year is showing significant increases on previous years' sales.
Other encouraging tidbits:
—China is far and away the driver of growth in sales, with 43% of all plug-in car sales in 2016. This should assuage some of the concerns around a new US regime derailing progress on electric vehicles overall.
—In the US, too, there are signs of progress with Q3 showing a 62% increase on the previous year.
—There are now 1,000,000 pure battery electric vehicles on the roads globally.
What's perhaps most encouraging is that these figures represent the state of play just before a whole host of new, exciting, and substantially improved offerings start hitting the market. From a plug-in hybrid minivan that gets 30 miles of all-electric range to several relatively affordable EVs that get over 200 miles of range, there's good reason to believe that the new generation of electric vehicles will have considerably broader appeal than the current crop of cars that are primarily selling to an early adopter crowd.
The other thing to remember is that we currently exist in a world where many people are either unaware, or only vaguely aware, of the viability of plug-in vehicles. I have lost count of how many times people have been shocked to learn that my LEAF needs no gas, and I charge it at home. Yet with 1,000,000 such cars on the road—and many more coming—I suspect more and more people will be having the very same conversation. As someone who recently lent out my LEAF while I was away traveling, and who heard on my return that my friend now can't look at a gas-powered car without fixating on the tailpipe emissions, I am confident that a growing familiarity with EVs will lead to many, many more sales in the years to come. Let's not forget, also, that it doesn't take that many electric vehicle sales to fundamentally disrupt the economics of a gas-powered transportation system.
Of course, it would be even cooler if we were all switching to bicycles. But I'll take progress where I can get it in the current climate.