Electric-car sales will decrease in 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but not as much as sales of internal-combustion vehicles.

That's among the top-level predictions from an annual Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released Wednesday. It also predicts that electric cars will continue to gradually gain market share in the coming decades, declaring that "long-term prospects remain undimmed."

Global electric-car sales will decrease by 18% in 2020, to 1.7 million, the report predicts. But sales of internal-combustion cars are predicted to fall even faster—by 23% globally.

Electric cars are expected to account for 3% of global new-car sales in 2020, rising to 7% in 2023, at some 5.4 million units, and continuing to increase from there, according to report.

By 2040, EVs will account for 58% of new-car sales globally, and 31% of the global car fleet. Bloomberg previously predicted that electric-car sales would surpass internal-combustion vehicles in 2037, and this latest report appears to renew that data point.

In addition, 67% of municipal buses, 24% of light commercial vehicles, and 47% of two-wheelers—including mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles—will be electric by 2040, the report predicts.

BYD K9 All-Electric Bus

BYD K9 All-Electric Bus

There are already over 7 million electric cars on the road, along with more than 500,000 electric buses, 400,000 electric delivery vehicles, and 184 million electric two-wheelers, the reported noted, with most buses and two-wheelers in China. Those vehicles are already impacting global energy demand.

Electric vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, are already taking out almost 1 million barrels of oil demand per day. It predicts that EVs will remove 17.6 million barrels of demand per day by 2040, while increasing global electricity demand by 5.2%.

Steady growth in electric-car sales will be helped by decreasing demand for internal-combustion cars, which analysts claim peaked in 2017. Falling battery prices will also allow EV costs to "cross over" with gasoline or diesel counterparts by 2025, on average, according to the report, adding that the date could vary by market. It could be 2022 for large cars in Europe, or 2030 or later for small cars in Japan or India.

Similarly, demand for electric cars is expected to vary by region. China and Europe are predicted to account for 72% of electric passenger-car sales by 2030. The United States is predicted to fall farther behind those two markets, but catch up around that time.

The Bloomberg report presents a more optimistic outlook than research firm Wood Mackenzie, which recently predicted that global electric-car sales could drop 43% in 2020, as a result of the pandemic.

The vastly differing estimates on how rapidly EVs will catch on are nothing new. Analysts were fairly uncertain of the future course of EV sales even before the pandemic.