Electric vehicle capitals: Cities aim for all-electric mobility

This briefing analyzes the contribution of major cities to the global electric vehicle market and the factors behind the success of these cities. The 25 cities with the most cumulative electric passenger vehicles through 2019 are: Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao, Zhengzhou, Changsha, Liuzhou, Weifang, Wuhan, Chongqing, and Xi’an in China; Tokyo, Japan; Oslo and Bergen, Norway; Paris, France; London, United Kingdom; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Stockholm, Sweden; and Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and New York in the United States. 

Each of the 25 electric vehicle capitals has registered at least 50,000 electric passenger vehicles. As in previous years, Shanghai leads in cumulative electric vehicles, with over 310,000 registered through 2019, closely followed by Beijing, Shenzhen, and Los Angeles. Beijing maintains its large lead in cumulative BEV registrations. Bergen and Oslo lead in electric vehicle sales shares, with 67% and 64%, respectively, followed by Liuzhou, San Jose, and Shenzhen with sales shares around 20%.

At the policy level, cities are signaling there will be no place for vehicle emissions on their streets in the years ahead. Of the 25 electric vehicle capitals, 17 have established 100% electric bus targets. Ten of the 25 cities, all in Europe or the United States, have 100% electric vehicle goals for passenger vehicles. As the cities in China draft their next Five-Year Plans in 2020-2021, they have an opportunity to establish their own electric vehicle targets. Thirteen cities in China have low-emission zones, which could be progressively strengthened and pave the way for zero-emission areas. In addition, four of the global electric capitals also have building codes that require 100% of spaces within specified building types be electric vehicle-ready. Many cities also have policies to convert municipal, taxi, and ride-hailing fleets to all-electric. Setting all-electric goals is a critical first step for cities to set follow-on action plans, policies, and city agency responsibilities.

The electric vehicle capitals continue to build out charging infrastructure to power their growing fleets but are taking different strategies. Cities in China have by far the most public charging on an absolute basis: each of the four cities analyzed have more than twice as much than any city outside of China, led by Shenzhen with about 80,000 chargers. All 14 electric vehicle capitals in China benefit from national- and city-level incentives for those that install public charging. Other cities target incentives toward specific applications, such as home charging for taxis (Paris, Oslo, London, and Tokyo), multiunit dwellings (Oslo and Paris), or curbside or streetlamp chargers (Los Angeles).

Cities are adapting their policies for a mainstream market. Direct financial incentives in the form of direct purchase subsidies or tax reductions are available from the national government in all of the electric vehicle capitals. Most electric vehicle capitals have ended or restricted access to city-level financial incentives and benefits such as toll discounts and access to bus or carpool lanes are gradually being scaled back. On the other hand, cities are strengthening building codes with 100% electric vehicle-ready requirements and increasing fleet requirements as they look toward an all-electric future.

electric vehicle capitals 2020