Compared to previous years, overall car-sales growth in the U.S. has all but plateaued at around 17.5 million.
China is doing little better, with growth reaching just 3 percent for 2017. But the Chinese new-vehicle market is undergoing a seismic shift in which types of cars are sold.
Want proof? China sold 777,000 new-energy vehicles—electrics and plug-in hybrids—in 2017, a whopping 53-percent increase over 2016.
The massive growth in plug-in vehicle sales can be attributed to government subsidies that support domestically produced models, reports Automotive News China.
Of the total new-energy vehicles sold, 579,000 are passenger vehicles. The remaining sales are commercial vehicles, such as electric buses and delivery trucks.
The vast majority of the NEVs sold in China were battery-electric vehicles, some 652,000 in all.
Nio ES8 high-performance electric SUV
Yet, the total number of NEVs sold in the country represents just a drop in the bucket—2.7 percent—of China's total vehicle market, which reached 28.9 million vehicles last year.
In comparison, U.S. sales reached 17.2 million vehicles in 2017, of which between 190,000 and 200,000 were either electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Meanwhile, EVs and PHEVs are expected to contribute to just under 1 percent of overall sales volume in Canada, a market that crested 2 million total vehicle sales for the first time in history in 2017.
The growth of NEV sales in China exploded in the final half of 2017.
During the first six-months of the year, Chinese NEV sales sat at double those of the U.S.
Now NEV sales are nearly four times as strong in China as they are in the U.S.
Bus in Shenzhen, China, By GEei Ginhee wins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Toward the end of December, China announced it would extend incentives on NEVs into 2020, which is almost guaranteed to further fuel electric-vehicle sales growth there.
Shortly thereafter, the China Vehicle Technology Service Center announced it would force the end of production to 553 models in China that didn't meet new fuel-economy benchmarks.
In the commercial-vehicle space, China is leading the way in electric buses as the city of Shenzhen recently announced it had switched its entire public transport fleet to NEVs—16,359 buses in all.