When will electric vehicles take over the world?

Date Posted 10th February 2023
Read Time 5 min read

We are getting closer to the 2030 marker, which, if all goes according to the UK government’s Road to Zero plan, will mean that all new cars and vans sold in the country will be fully electric. The year in which the changeover happens around the world differs, but the overall uptake in EVs is evident wherever you look, albeit at different growth rates. 

Here at Hippo Leasing, we’ve been wondering about the speed of adoption of EVs around the world, and decided to take a look at how fast the uptake of EVs has been in the top 12 countries that sell the most cars overall. We wanted to discover when it’s likely that all the cars in those countries will be electric. It’s important to highlight that we disregarded the dates when countries have implemented a forced switch to electric driving, as we’re strictly looking to see how things would look with the current growth rates in place.

So, which countries will switch to fully electric driving first and which countries will it take the longest with their current growth rates?

Top 12 countries for passenger car sales and their EV growth

China could be fully electric by 2027 with over 30 million EVs 

China has the highest number of car sales in the world and by a long, long way. China sold 21,481,537 cars in 2021, which is only around 100,000 car sales more than the combined number of cars sold in Japan, the USA, India, Germany, France, the UK, Brazil, South Korea, Italy and Spain! (21,379,835). 

So with car sale figures so high, it’s interesting to compare it with the uptake of EVs in the country. The average growth percentage (calculated between 2010-2019 to omit the last few years due to the fact that hardly anyone was buying cars during the pandemic) was around 5.4%, giving us an accurate idea of how many more cars are sold each new year. In comparison, the growth percentage of EVs was up to just over 77% between 2020 and 2021.  At this rate, we can calculate that by 2026, China could have over 30 million EVs on the road, with electric-powered cars surpassing the current total car growth rate by the start of 2027.

Germany’s EV uptake could see EV takeover first

It appears that Germany has fallen in love with electric driving. Between 2020 and 2021, Germany saw the sale of EVs grow 109% from 330,000 to 690,000. If that growth rate continues, they’ll see EV sales reach the estimated total of all car sales as soon as the end of 2024, meaning Germany could be the first country in the world to go fully electric as far as passenger cars are concerned.

UK vs USA: Where will EVs take over first?

Despite the United States of America’s size and population, it’s actually the United Kingdom’s drivers that are pushing the charge to become fully electric first. When you look at the industry overall, the UK boasts higher growth averages when it comes to both total passenger car and EV sales. 

Passenger car sales in the USA have dropped every year since 2014 and it’s resulted in a negative average growth of just -1.45%, meaning by 2030, they’re predicted to have less than 3 million cars on the roads. However, when it comes to EVs, America is showing a decent uptake in electric motoring, with an 18.2% growth between 2020 and 2021, reaching a total of 1.3 million EVs by the start of 2022. 

In comparison, the UK, despite having a few rocky years between 2017 and 2020, has picked up once again in 2021 and has an average growth percentage of a much healthier 1.64%. As for EVs, they manage a huge 90.5% growth increase between 2020 and 2021. 

This data allows us to then see when EVs will take over, and far as this head-to-head goes, it’s the UK that stands to make the switch first, with our data showing EV sales catching up with total passenger car sales by 2026, with around 1.85 million on the road. As for the USA, they won’t reach the takeover mark until 2030, when they’ll have an estimated 3.2 million EVs roaming the streets.


To put this piece together we first took the average growth rates of total passenger cars sold in the countries that currently sell the most passenger cars. This enables us to predict how many cars will be on the road, all the way up to 2050. We then did the same for EVs to see if the growth of sales will, at some point, reach the predicted amount of total cars, meaning that all cars would therefore be electric. It’s also important to highlight that we also disregarded the dates when countries have implemented a forced switch to electric, as we’re strictly looking to see how things would look with the current growth rates in place. 

Total passenger car sales were sourced from the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA) with EV sales from the International Energy Agency.

Russia, Indonesia and Turkey were omitted from the top 12 due to a lack of data.

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