Driving towards Green Horizons

The popularity of electric vehicles is booming worldwide, but there are speed bumps ahead. More investment is needed to build charging networks and electrify commercial fleets if green motoring is to achieve its potential in cleaning up our streets and air.

Driving towards Green Horizons

Electric vehicles (EVs) are moving into the fast lane. Globally, total consumer and government spending on them reached nearly US$280 billion last year with sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrids reaching a record 6.6 million, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).


EVs accounted for nearly 10% of global car sales last year and there were an estimated 16.5 million on the road worldwide. In the first quarter of this year alone, another 2 million EVs were sold.


China is the centre of the boom with sales hitting 3.3 million in 2021, 16% of all domestic car sales. In Europe, meanwhile, EV sales rose nearly two thirds year-on-year to 2.3 million. Between them, China and Europe accounted for over 85% of global EV sales.


   Sources: IEA analysis based on country submissions, complemented by ACEA; CAAM; EAFO; EV Volumes; Marklines.

   IEA (2022). Global EV Outlook 2022. https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022. All rights reserved.



There are speed bumps ahead on the journey to a green motoring future, however. A lack of EV charging networks has put the brakes on global uptake, and sales remain low in some emerging and developing economies where EVs are unaffordable for many consumers.


On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and growing US-China tensions are disrupting global supply chains with a severe impact on the car industry and EV battery market.


Surging prices and supply shortages in battery metals are threatening delays in EV delivery, potentially dampening sales growth in some markets in the near term. The environmental and social costs of extracting the raw materials for battery production also have to be mitigated.


Meanwhile, the need to encourage EV development is gaining recognition among governments and businesses worldwide, and policy support and corporate efforts to spread charging infrastructure and expand commercial fleets are gathering pace.


An expanding green fleet

To reach a target of worldwide zero-emissions vehicles by 2050, 61% of global passenger vehicle sales should be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, 93% by 2035, and 100% by 2038, according to BloombergNEF’s latest EV outlook report.


So far, 28 governments have committed to a COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero-emissions cars and vans by 2040 or earlier. These include the UK and Iceland, which had already agreed to phase out new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030. 


In June, European Union countries reached deals on a package of green policies, including requiring all new cars sold from 2035 to emit no carbon dioxide. Negotiations with the European Parliament are underway to reach an agreement on the final legal texts.


Some of the world’s large automakers, including Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, also pledged at COP26 to work towards reaching 100% zero-emissions for new car and van sales in leading markets by 2035 or earlier. 


Taking charge of EV infrastructure

The global EV stock could reach 200 million vehicles – around 10% of all vehicles – by 2030 based on the policy ambitions and targets laid out by governments around the world, according to the IEA.


China aims to develop enough charging infrastructure to meet the needs of more than 20 million EVs and build fast-charging services on 60-80% of its expressways by 2025. Hong Kong, meanwhile, plans to increase the number of private and public charging facilities to 150,000 and 5,000 respectively by 2025. As of June 2022, there were around 5,000 EV chargers for public use in the city, according to the government.


CLP Power provides free EV charging stations across its power supply area in Hong Kong and offers one-stop technical support and customer services to private residential buildings interested in applying for government funding to install EV charging-enabled infrastructure. Smart Charge, a joint venture between CLP Holdings and HKT, meanwhile provides one-stop EV charging solutions in private and public car parks.


CLP Power supports green transportation in Hong Kong by providing free EV charging stations across its power supply area.
CLP Power supports green transportation in Hong Kong by providing free EV charging stations across its power supply area.


India has lagged behind the field in green motoring but recent policies have driven wider EV adoption, including a 50% increase in purchase incentives for electric two-wheelers and subsidies to develop almost 2,900 charging stations across 25 states. 


Switching lorries off diesel

Another key factor in decarbonising road transport is the electrification of high-mileage commercial vehicles. In 2021, electric buses and electric heavy-duty trucks accounted for only about 4% and 0.1% of their respective fleets, IEA figures show.


Uptake is improving but more needs to be done to improve driving range and charging strategies for heavy-duty EVs to be more widely adopted, including the spread of technologies like battery swapping and the development of electric road systems.



Demand for raw materials to mass produce larger battery designs is greater because of the need to support heavy-duty long-haul applications, so resilient supply chains for battery metals are essential if the sector is to expand.


Battery metals are highly concentrated geographically in terms of raw material supply and extraction, and are therefore more vulnerable to supply shocks and constraints. To address this issue, countries have launched initiatives like the Defense Production Act in the United States to boost sourcing and production of critical minerals for EV and storage batteries.


Cross-sector partnerships between utility companies and the transport sector are crucial in accelerating the growth of heavy-duty EVs to help combat climate change.
Cross-sector partnerships between utility companies and the transport sector are crucial in accelerating the growth of heavy-duty EVs to help combat climate change.


In Hong Kong, CLP Power is working with one of the major bus operators, Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), to provide technical support and advice for the planning and installation of quick-charging facilities at depots to support the electrification of the transport sector so as to reduce carbon emissions.


Similarly, in Australia, CLP’s subsidiary EnergyAustralia is partnering with manufacturers of zero-emission vehicles including Nexport and SEA Electric to provide bus and truck fleets with bespoke clean energy solutions to electrify their customers’ depots with solar energy, batteries, chargers and virtual power plants. A virtual power plant is a network of energy storage systems centrally managed by software to provide energy to the grid during times of peak demand.


KMB is collaborating with CLP Power to promote public transport electrification in Hong Kong.
KMB is collaborating with CLP Power to promote public transport electrification in Hong Kong.


Supercharging the EV transition

Momentum for green motoring is gathering worldwide but there are still significant speed bumps on the journey to a net-zero future.


Governments need to continue to support deployment of charging infrastructure through regulations or fiscal policies, and must ensure equitable access to charging for all communities to ensure no one is left behind in the transition.


Policy-led initiatives such as the Zero Emission Bus Transition Strategy of New South Wales in Australia along with zero-emission vehicle sales mandates and purchase incentives may prove pivotal in kickstarting the critical heavy-duty EV sector.


Finally, coordinated plans on grid expansion and improvements – including digital technologies to facilitate bidirectional charging between EVs and power grids – are key to ensuring EVs enjoy grid stability as they steer us towards a greener tomorrow.