July 31, 2017
An electric car recharges at a meter in London: The UK is the latest country to announce plans to end fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2040 (photo: Sasha Fox Walters/iStock by Getty Images)
The switch from horses to automobiles in the 20th century paved the way for the rise of oil-based transportation and energy use. Today, electric vehicle ownership is picking up speed. Greater affordability of electric vehicles will likely steer us away from our current sources of energy for transportation, and toward more environmentally friendly technology. And that can happen sooner than you think.
Our Chart of the Week from a recent IMF working paper shows that the transition away from motor vehicles could happen in the next 10 to 25 years, based on parallel shifts in the 20th century. Patterns observed in the early days of the horse-car transition closely resemble present-day electric vehicle adoption rates. Between 2011 and 2015, the average annual growth rate of electric vehicle ownership was 120 percent. This is, in fact, slightly faster growth than that of motor vehicles during a comparable timeframe in the past. Using the horse-car parallel, the paper forecasts that by 2040 motor vehicles could mostly disappear in advanced economies, and could comprise about a third of the fleet of all cars in emerging market and developing economies. (more…)