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Peak Internal Combustion Engine May Already Be Years Behind Us

While EVs are still a small fraction of passenger car sales, that’s growing—really fast.

California To Cut Budget Spending Amid Deficits Worsened By Coronavirus
Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

The world hit a transport milestone in 2017, though most people wouldn’t have noticed it at the time.

That year, consumers bought more than 85 million automobiles, a sales volume that declined in 2018, and again in 2019, and then plummeted in 2020 due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, sales of electric vehicles rose, and rose again, making EVs the auto industry’s only growth market—and meaning that we almost certainly hit peak internal combustion engine car sales four years ago.