About 6.6 million electric vehicles were sold in 2021, according to the IEA, more than double the year before.

In 2020, around three million electric vehicles were sold, up from 2.2 million in 2019.

But that increase dwarfs in comparison to growth in EV sales last year – 6.6 million – and the trend remains pointing upwards.

The momentum in the EV sector has industry insiders rubbing their hands together with glee – to meet skyrocketing demand, the sector will need plenty of metals like lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, magnesium, graphite and more, as well as infrastructure that can turn the raw materials into usable products.

Explosive growth

In a report for the International Energy Agency, clean energy tech analyst Leonardo Paoli and head of energy tech policy Timur Gül outlined the sheer pace of growth in EVs.

“In the whole of 2012, about 130,000 electric cars were sold worldwide. Today, that many are sold in the space of a single week,” they said.

“Growth has been particularly impressive over the last three years, even as the global pandemic shrank the market for conventional cars and as manufacturers started grappling with supply chain bottlenecks.

“We estimate there are now around 16 million electric cars on the road worldwide, consuming roughly 30 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity per year, the equivalent of all the electricity generated in Ireland.”

And the shift to EVs is doing its part to help the environment – the uptake helped avoid some oil consumption and CO2 emissions in 2021, although unfortunately these benefits were cancelled out by the parallel increase in the sales of SUVs.

China is the world leader in EV sales, with Europe close behind (led by Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands).

In the US, EV sales exceeded half a million in 2021, doubling their market share, while impressive growth was also seen in South Korea and Australia.

What it means for metals

ETF Securities head of distribution Kanish Chugh said the impressive sales growth was a huge opportunity for those involved in the supply chain.

“The take-off in EV sales is the tip of the iceberg, supported by a growing global value chain,” he said.

“Investors could be looking for efficient exposure to advances in battery technology and lithium production as well as EV manufacturers if they want exposure to the green shift to renewable energy generation and storage.”

Get involved on the ASX

For investors hoping to get in on the momentum, the ASX is an incredibly strong place to look.

In just the last month, several Australian-listed companies have made significant gains as they look to secure their place in the global EV supply chain.

Piedmont CEO Keith Phillips said: “Our mission in 2022 is the successful execution of our near-term goals including advancing permits and approvals for our flagship Carolina Lithium Project, expanding our business plans to produce 60,000 tons per year of lithium hydroxide with a second lithium conversion plant, bringing our North American lithium mine back into production with our partner Sayona Mining, and completing a feasibility study at Atlantic Lithium’s Ewoyaa Project in Ghana.

“With Sayona Mining projecting first production from the restart of North American Lithium in 2023, Atlantic Lithium planning first production at the Ewoyaa project in 2024, and our own projects advancing towards their construction decisions, Piedmont Lithium’s future is positively electric.”

Pantoro managing director Paul Cmrlec said: “These new results from what was an opportunistic campaign following initial results continue to demonstrate widespread mineralisation at Lamboo with consistency from surface to significant depths.

“With the number and quality of drill intersections already received we look forward to a big field season commencing very soon.”

The new research found the company offers “incredible value” and is in “pole position” to benefit from the start of the lithium “super-cycle”.