US & china are allies and enemies at the same time

Why China Surged, Europe Stepped Up, and the US Shifted Gears in EV Race (2010-2024)

Compared to China and Europe, the US enjoyed lower gasoline prices for much of the period. This made EVs less attractive to cost-conscious consumers.
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In recent years, the automotive industry has witnessed a profound transformation with the Evolution of Electric Vehicles (EV).

From humble beginnings to becoming a mainstream choice for environmentally-conscious consumers, the journey of EVs has been nothing short of remarkable.

Let’s delve into the data provided by Bruegel to understand the trajectory of EV adoption across three major regions: the United States, the European Union, and China.

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Here’s a breakdown of why China, Europe, and the US evolved differently in the EV market from 2010 to 2024:

China: The Early Leader

  • Government Push: China offered generous subsidies and incentives for both EV purchases and manufacturing. This lowered the cost of EVs for consumers and attracted investment into the domestic EV industry.
  • Pollution Concerns: Major Chinese cities faced severe air pollution problems. EVs were seen as a key solution to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
  • Battery Powerhouse: China emerged as a dominant force in battery production, a crucial component for EVs. This strong domestic supply chain gave them a significant advantage.

Europe: Regulation and Consumer Choice

  • Stricter Emissions Standards: Europe implemented stricter emission regulations that favored EVs. This put pressure on automakers to develop and sell more electric vehicles.
  • Growing Green Movement: European consumers became increasingly environmentally conscious, leading to a rise in demand for eco-friendly vehicles like EVs.
  • Charging Infrastructure: European countries invested heavily in building charging infrastructure, making it more convenient for people to own and use EVs.

US: A Slower Shift

  • Lower Gas Prices: Compared to China and Europe, the US enjoyed lower gasoline prices for much of the period. This made EVs less attractive to cost-conscious consumers.
  • Focus on Traditional Cars: Some American automakers remained focused on developing and selling traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • Recent Surge in Investment: In recent years, the US has recognized the importance of EVs and has begun to invest heavily in EV development and infrastructure.

These factors resulted in China becoming the world leader in the EV market, followed by Europe and then the US. However, the US is rapidly catching up with significant investments in the sector.

EV sales

Image Credits: Visual Capitalist

2010: The Dawn of EV

In 2010, electric vehicles were still in their infancy, with only a handful on the roads. The United States led the pack with 3,800 EVs, closely followed by the European Union with 2,840 and China with 1,940.

At this stage, EVs were more of a novelty than a practical alternative to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

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2015: The Turning Point of EV

The year 2015 marked a significant turning point in the adoption of electric vehicles.

The United States saw a dramatic surge in EV ownership, with numbers skyrocketing to 400,000. China followed suit with 297,000 EVs, while the European Union trailed slightly behind with 250,000.

This period witnessed a growing awareness of environmental issues, coupled with advancements in EV technology and infrastructure.

2020: Accelerating Momentum for EV

By 2020, the momentum behind electric vehicles had intensified. China emerged as the global leader in EV adoption, boasting a staggering 4,490,000 electric vehicles on its roads.

The European Union continued to make strides with 2,180,000 EVs, while the United States lagged behind with 1,740,000.

Governments and policymakers around the world began implementing ambitious initiatives to promote EV uptake, including subsidies, tax incentives, and investment in charging infrastructure.

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2022: The Electric Revolution

In just two years, from 2020 to 2022, the electric vehicle landscape underwent a seismic shift. China solidified its position as the undisputed leader, with a remarkable 14,100,000 electric vehicles on its roads.

The European Union witnessed exponential growth, reaching 5,700,000 EVs, while the United States saw a significant uptick to 2,960,000.

This period marked the culmination of years of concerted efforts to transition towards sustainable transportation solutions.

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Implications and Future Outlook

The data provided by Bruegel offers valuable insights into the global transition towards electric mobility.

China’s rapid ascent as the largest EV market underscores the country’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and combating air pollution.

Meanwhile, the European Union has emerged as a frontrunner in promoting clean transportation through ambitious regulatory frameworks and investments in charging infrastructure.

In contrast, the United States, while making progress, still lags behind its counterparts in terms of EV adoption.

However, with the Biden administration’s pledge to invest in clean energy and infrastructure, there is optimism for accelerated growth in the coming years.

Looking ahead, the future of electric vehicles appears promising. Technological advancements, declining battery costs, and increasing consumer demand are poised to drive further expansion of the EV market.

As governments worldwide continue to prioritize sustainability and climate action, electric vehicles are expected to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of transportation.

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Here’s a table summarizing the data provided by Bruegel on the number of electric vehicles (including BEVs and PHEVs) on the road in the United States (USA), the European Union (EU27), and China for the years 2010, 2015, 2020, and 2022:

Year🇺🇸 USA🇪🇺 EU🇨🇳 China

This table provides a clear overview of the exponential growth in electric vehicle adoption over the years, highlighting China’s dominant position in the global EV market by 2022, followed by the European Union and the United States.


In conclusion, the journey of electric vehicles from niche novelties to mainstream mobility options exemplifies the power of innovation and collective action in addressing pressing global challenges.

The data provided by Bruegel serves as a testament to the remarkable progress made thus far and underscores the need for continued collaboration and investment in building a more sustainable transportation ecosystem.

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