BMW Anticipates Double-Digit Electric Vehicle Sales Increase in 2018
Ian Wright posted on December 07, 2017 |
78,100 electric and hybrid BMWs sold in first 10 months of 2017.
Manufacturing BMW's i-Series. (Image courtesy of BMW Group.)

Manufacturing BMW's i-Series. (Image courtesy of BMW Group.)

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I still feel a little thrill of excitement every time I spot an electric vehicle (EV) on the highway. Having grown up in the days of acid rain, ozone depletion and Captain Planet, I can’t help but see the growing electrification of the automotive industry in a positive light.

And it is growing.

Recently, BMW’s R&D chief, Klaus Forehlich said that sales of electric BMWs in 2018 will exceed the 2017 sales target of 100,000 vehicles by what Reuters described as “a medium double-digit percentage.” That may sound like an ambitious goal, but keep in mind that BMW had already sold 78,100 electric cars and plug-in hybrids by the end of October this year.

BMW’s sales data from Q1 2017 provides further evidence for the growth of the EV market. Sales of the i3 and i8 plug-ins doubled those of Q1 2016, with nearly 20,000 units delivered. By September of this year, total sales of the company’s nine electrified models had increased by 64 percent over 2016.

Of course, BMW is just one of the many automakers contributing to the rise of electric vehicles. To get a fuller sense of the growth of the EV market, we turned to EV-Volumes, which tracks global electric vehicle sales. This graph nicely sums up the pace of electrification in the auto industry over the last few years:

IEA analysis based on EVI country submissions, complemented by EAFO (2017a), IHS Polk (2016), MarkLines (2017), ACEA (2017a, 2017b) and EEA (2017). (Image courtesy of EV-Volumes.)
IEA analysis based on EVI country submissions, complemented by EAFO (2017), IHS Polk (2016), MarkLines (2017), ACEA (2017a, 2017b) and EEA (2017). (Image courtesy of EV-Volumes.)
The key point to note here is that the number of electric vehicles worldwide crossed 1 million in 2015 and 2 million in 2017. But before you get too excited, it should be noted that we’re not likely to see 4 million EVs worldwide by the end of the month.

Still, 2017 was a good year for electric vehicles, with the majority of OEMs—including BMW, GM, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Renault-Nissan, Volkswagen and Volvo—committed to creating or widening their EV offerings over the next five to ten years.

That’s not to say there aren’t more obstacles on the road to automotive electrification. How much electricity will EVs require? How will the total cost of ownership for an EV compare to that of vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines? These are important questions, and they only become more pressing as the EV market continues to grow.

When and whether we’ll ever reach total electrification is still a topic of considerable debate, but it should be uncontroversial that 2018 will be the best year for EVs yet, just like the last eight.

EVs are on the rise, and driverless vehicles aren’t far behind. 

Check out our feature on The Race to Level 5 Autonomous Vehicles.

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