The number of electric vehicles on the road surged to two million last year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Registered plug-in and battery-powered vehicles on roads worldwide rose 60 per cent from the year before, according to the IEA's global EV 2017 report. However, despite the soaring numbers, electric vehicles still represent just 0.2 per cent of total light-duty vehicles.
The electric car market is set to transition from early deployment to mass market adoption over the next decade or so, and the likes of Elon Musk's Tesla have helped bolster public perception of electric vehicles, while car giants have been plugging investment into electric vehicles as interest in diesel cools.
Tesla is aiming at cracking the mass market with its new Model 3 sedan, and in April, the electric car firm accelerated past GM to become America's most valuable car firm, having just surpassed Ford, with investors buying into Tesla's belief that electric cars will soon rule the roads.
China remained the largest market in 2016, accounting for more than 40 per cent of the electric cars sold in the world, with more than 200m electric two-wheelers and more than 300,000 electric buses on the roads.
China, the U.S. and Europe were the three main markets, making up 90 per cent of all EVs sold around the world.
The IEA report noted that in some markets electric car deployment is swift: in Norway, electric cars had a 29 per cent market share in 2016, the highest globally, while in the Netherlands they made up 6.4 per cent. Related: U.S. Oil To Break Production Record In 2018
But, the IEA said: "They have a long way to go before reaching numbers capable of making a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. In order to limit temperature increases to below 2°C by the end of the century, the number of electric cars will need to reach 600 million by 2040."
It added that "strong policy support" will be necessary to keep electric vehicles on track.
Between nine and 20m electric cars could be deployed by 2020, and 40-70m by 2025, according to estimates based on recent statements from car firms.
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