It seems electric vehicle (EV) sales have been a little slow in the United States. Whether it's because of low oil prices or would-be EV buyers waiting on upcoming models, monthly sales numbers in 2015 have been consistently below those of 2014.
America being America, that inevitably leads to hyperbolic articles about the failure of the electric car. (I have pointed out the problems with this argument before.) What's sometimes forgotten, however, is that there is an entire world out there—and in some countries, the market is going crazy.
Take this news from the UK-based Business Green, for example: electric car sales soared 366% in Q1 of 2015. That's a huge increase, especially in a country where EV sales initially struggled. And this report from Business Insider suggests that there's been similar rates of growth in Sweden, Denmark and China too—with Germany and Austria not too far behind.There are a few things we can take away from this split between U.S. sales and elsewhere:
1) In countries with higher gas tax, lower oil prices have less immediate impact on price at the pump—meaning the economic case for EVs remains intact. (So, Mr Obama, raise the gas tax please.)
2) Nascent EV markets are still very influenced by government policies—where new incentives kick in, sales tend to soar.
3) The number of vehicles on the market is small, but growing—so sales numbers are going to fluctuate as new models arrive, and/or as customers hold off in anticipation of newer models with more range/lower prices.
In other words, the market is too young and too unknown to read much into year-by-year sales numbers. Cries of the death of EV are as unrealistic as it would be to assume that a 366% growth curve can be maintained long-term. One thing, however, is increasingly clear: Decarbonization is becoming a priority for many countries. I don't see the EV market going anywhere but up in the long run until, of course, we get serious about going car-free.