Worldwide sales of electric vehicles (EVs) will overtake those of traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) passenger vehicles within 20 years, according to research published last month.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted in May that EV sales would top 50 million by 2038, surpassing the 47 million conventional passenger vehicle sales. Within two more years EV sales will reach 56 million, 10 million more than ICE sales.

This marks a massive shift from today’s market, which saw ICE vehicles account for 85 million sales in 2018 and EVs just 2 million. Half of those sales are in China, the world’s largest EV market.

Even in China, EVs currently make up less than five percent of passenger car sales, and the ratio is not much better elsewhere, with six percent in the United States and only 0.2 percent in Australia.

Things are slowly changing. China last year had its first fall in car sales in 20 years, but its EV sales grew. And the rest of the world is catching up. China’s share of the EV market will fall from 50 to 25 percent by 2040, with Europe and the US growing their share to 20 percent and 16 percent respectively.

This change could happen ever faster if nations adopt more progressive emissions targets. Nine countries, including Denmark, Italy, and Norway, have already committed to banning ICE vehicles.

It will, however, still be a while before EVs fully replace the current fleet of ICE vehicles. The average age of cars on Australia’s roads is 10.1 years (about 11 years in the US), and the sheer number of such vehicles is huge.

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