Battery electric vehicle sales are starting to pick up in many parts of the world, and in Q4 2023, they reached or surpassed 5% of total sales in 31 countries. This is seen by analysts as a “tipping point” where EV sales could quickly shoot up to 25%. The world’s largest car markets—China, the United States and Europe—have all passed this point and show a clear upward trend in sales.

The first country to pass the 5% threshold was Norway, the world leader in EV adoption, which achieved the feat in Q3 2013, followed by the Netherlands in Q4 2018. Norway still leads the pack today, with EVs making up 79.6% of all new car purchases in the country in the final quarter of last year, or just over 25,000 vehicles.

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The US EV adoption rate is still behind the world leaders

Even though EVs make up an increasingly large number of new car purchases in the United States, the country still lags behind the nations with the highest EV adoption rate.

Most of the 31 countries on the list assembled by Bloomberg only recently passed the so-called tipping point in the last two or three years.

The US is no exception, passing 5% in Q4 2021, and the share of new cars that are full EVs (excluding other types of plug-in vehicles) increased to 8.1% in the last quarter of 2023. Cumulative PHEV and EV sales in the US for the entirety of 2023 rose to 9.1% of the total sales volume, which added up to 1.4 million vehicles and marked an over 50% increase year-over-year.

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China still shows a rapid rate of growth in EV adoption after it passed 5% in Q4 2020. It went up now to 23.8% in Q4 2023. That’s nearly 1.9 million EVs sold, which is more than the rest of the 5+% countries combined, whose total tally just nudges over 1 million.

Picking up the pace since the initial study conducted in 2022 are countries from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Romania had a Q4 2023 EV share of 10.8% (after passing 5% in Q4 2021), which is behind Turkey with 12% (the same as the global average for the quarter). The latter saw EV adoption rates increase after the introduction of the Togg, a locally developed and built EV. 20,000 units were delivered in 2023, with plans to manufacture 1 million vehicles (five different models) by 2030.

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