Shifting the focus: smaller electric vehicles for sustainable cities

Like-for-like replacement of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by identical electric-powered vehicles is thought to be the main uptake pathway for electric vehicle (EV) uptake. However, what characterises global passenger and freight EV markets is the emerging uptake of smaller, lighter and shorter-ranged vehicle types specially designed for urban areas. A shift towards a broader EV uptake could be an opportunity for more sustainable and electric urban mobility systems – with comparatively lower electricity and charging infrastructure demand and battery materials needs, lower emissions and safer city streets. This report identifies the main use cases that could be part of such a broader and sustainable EV uptake. It also quantifies the sustainability impacts of different EV uptake scenarios that vary in vehicle fleet composition and degrees of electrification ambition. Finally, it gives recommendations on how authorities could leverage the passenger and freight EV transition for more sustainable cities.

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