Half Of World’s Electric Cars Are In Just 25 Cities

NOV 1 2018 BY MARK KANE 20

Some cities are way ahead of rest of the world

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), nearly half of all plug-in electric passenger cars are used in just 25 metropolitan areas.

At the end of 2017, the number was 1.4 million out of 3.1 million, which translated to around 45% in those 25 cities.

That’s pretty interesting, especially since overall, those 25 markets represent only 12% of the world’s passenger car sales. In other words, there are important reasons that make plug-ins appealing in certain metro areas.

The biggest 25 markets for plug-in electric cars are:

  • China (11/25): Beijing, Changsha, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, and Zhengzhou
  • Europe: (6/25): London (England), Paris (France), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Bergen and Oslo (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden)
  • U.S. (6/25): Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle
  • Japan: (2/25): Tokyo and Kyoto

Cumulative electric vehicle sales and 2017 passenger vehicle sales in top global electric vehicle markets. (Source: ICCT)

The electric vehicle market is accelerating, with China leading the way. Global electric vehicle sales increased by more than 50% from 2016, to about 1.2 million in 2017. The growth has been greatest in China, with half the global electric market and 11 of the 25 top electric vehicle market cities. Major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have implemented strong policies not found outside China, including large incentives and licensing and registration privileges for electric vehicles, to simultaneously tackle congestion and air quality. Other leading markets in Europe and the United States have similar but less extensive versions of the incentives and policy approaches of China.

The top electric markets are beginning to solve the infrastructure challenge. Charging infrastructure buildout is key driver to the growth of the electric vehicle market. Electric vehicle capitals use multi-faceted strategies to spur infrastructure investment, such as adopting building and parking codes to ensure broad access to charging over the longer term. The top 25 electric vehicle markets have, on average, about 24 times the available charging per capita as elsewhere. However, charging availability varies greatly among leading markets.

A comprehensive policy package is necessary to launch the electric market. Nearly all global electric vehicles (98%) are in China, Europe, Japan, and the United States, which have regulations to ensure electric vehicle model availability, incentives to reduce vehicle price, infrastructure to ensure convenience, and campaigns to educate consumers. Comprehensive local-level policies are also a distinguishing feature of top electric vehicle markets. Although Beijing and Shanghai have uniquely strong electric vehicle licensing policies, many cities in China, Europe, and the United States provide substantial financial and nonfinancial perks.

Source: ICCT via Green Car Congress

Categories: Sales

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

20 Comments on "Half Of World’s Electric Cars Are In Just 25 Cities"

newest oldest most voted
Do Not Read Between The Lines

Cities have lots of people.
Cities have wealth.
Cities have shorter journeys.
Better, cheaper EVs spread ownership.
Market penetration impacts support, accelerating adoption.
Would be interesting to keep an eye on market share in different areas to see how the pattern repeats.

Some Guy

At this rate the planet will be saved in 1 billion years.

Confus Ed

Is that graph flipped? How is it that Beijing and Shanghai have the smallest percentage of EV and passenger car sales?


The chart is a bit confusing, I think each axis is cumulative. So each line segment before the city dot, represents that cities contribution to the overall percentage. Not sure what drives where on the graph the city is placed?


The order is determined by absolute EV sales in each city AIUI.

Both axes are cumulative. It’s similar to various non-parametric measures of the separation off two cumulative probability distributions. Things such as gini, ROC, Kolmogorov-Smirnov, Mann-Whitney, etc etc. In economics the similar method is the Lorenz curve which measures distribution of wealth. The basic idea behind all of these is that you first rank order the data points from most to least (in whatever you are measuring) then plot successive cumulative numbers. If there was an equal distribution to everyone then you’d get a straight 45 degree line. The further away from the diagonal the curve gets, the less evenly the data is distributed. Thus complete socialism is the diagonal and presumably there’s a nice middle ground between that extreme and a box which would mean 1 guy has all the money. So in this case Shanghai comes first because it has the largest number of EVs. It makes up 5% of all EVs and 1% of all global car sales. Then comes Bejing which makes up an additional 5% of EV sales (approx) and just under 1% of global car sales. The data point for Bejing is then plotted at the point where it is Bejing + Shanghai. The steeper… Read more »
Ron M

Still confusing according to the graph Detroit has 13% of 2017 global passenger vehicle sales. Detroit also has 45% of cumulative global vehicle sales.
Please explain?
Also graph doesn’t say there both cumulative the lower one says 2017 global vehicle sales.
Did you do this graph.


Detroit sales are the distance between Weifang and Detroit. Roughly 1% of EV sales and 1% of total vehicle sales.

Doggy is correct. If I counted correctly, Detroit is the 28th largest city in terms of EV sales. The first 27th are to the left and down in order. You are stacking blocks in the up direction with the blocks decreasing in size as you go up. The vertical axis is then stacking Detroit on top and the way you get Detroit’s ‘contribution’ is the distance it moved the stack vertically. The horizontal axis is the same thing only stacking cumulative sales for all cars. So you look at the incremental change to find the individual contribution. No I did not make the graph, but it’s in my line of work. It’s the kind of chart you’d make to measure ‘lift’ in a marketing model that predicts response and helps you pick the target population. If you have 10 million names and you want to send 500,000 credit card offers in the mail, you want to build a model that rank orders response and send to the most responsive end off that group. If you mailed randomly out of the whole population maybe you’d get 1/2 off 1% response. But maybe if you mailed the top 5% most responsive (500,000)… Read more »

I am actually surprised that either city is on this list. In fact, I am surprised that any large Chinese city makes this list. The reason is that all of china’s vehicle population is growing fast. That is not just EVs, but their ICE as well. That is why the smaller cities are the ones that are up towards the top of the list.


The top of what list?

Bigger cities have more EV sales. Cities with strong EV incentives have more EV sales. Shanghai and Beijing are among the world’s largest cities and they have strong EV incentives, so they are the leaders. Each has ~5% of the entire world’s EV sales.


Somebody needs to pay and do the development. Let’s just hope that soon they will get cheap enough for the rest of the world.

TM3x2 Chris

The graph shows Detroit and Inland Empire as two US areas with the highest concentration of EVs. Yet those two are not mentioned in the article.


It can be confusing, but the cities toward the bottom left of the chart have greater impact than cities at the top right. So the top cities in the world for EV sales are Shanghai, Beijing, & Los Angeles. Inland Empire and Detroit and ranked 7th and 8th in the US, respectively, and #s 26 and 28 worldwide. Both just barely missed the cutoff to be in the “global top 25” cities for EV sales.


This is why we need a US nationwide ZEV mandate as proposed by GM. But with higher percentage targets.

oh, and city level bans on ICE would help too.

And a national carbon fee.


If all those got put into place, we would also need much improved electric public transit options, including massively expanded rail development, in order for people to still be able to get where they need to go without going broke.

Ron M

Did you do this graph


Here is the original article. There are a few bonus cities on the graph that the article doesn’t count towards the “25”. Detroit doesn’t make the cut, but is a bonus city.

Randy Stortroen

There’s no real use case for cars in any of these cities, where average speeds are <25kph. I just completed a five year, 50,000 mile experiment using electric bikes in SF Bay Area. Aside from road pollution exposure, ultralight two and three-wheeled electric vehicles are much more fluid and beneficial than any car.
When and where protection from the elements is a factor, or "passive mode" is dictated due to preference or disability, pods at most are all we need for optimal mobility in cities, operating on low speed infrastructure (not necessarily streets), given more or less frictionless connections to high-speed modes and infrastructure. These "destination cities" will easily turn away cars when they provide the latter. Any other transportation investment looking out beyond 2040 is probably a boondoggle.

Ron M

Who ever did this graph has the total cumulative EV’s sold and the number of Global vehicles sold in 2017. They also have the number of EV’s sold in all of these cities in 2017 and cumulative EV’s sold in these cities. I suggest you just provide those numbers. I’m sure your following an article that you wrote. If this information is valid prove it.