Mass adoption of electric cars is underway, with over 5% of new car sales in 23 countries now being electric. EVs offer substantial economic benefits, particularly in developing nations, where they address urban traffic congestion, enhance public health, and reduce reliance on expensive imported fossil fuels. Latin America, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia approaching universal electricity access with over 98% coverage, are well-positioned to leverage the opportunities presented by EVs. 

While initial challenges like limited battery range, high costs, and inadequate charging infrastructure hindered EV adoption, advancements have led to increased popularity, especially with EV batteries becoming cheaper. EVs, primarily powered by lithium-ion batteries, face a surge in demand, driving concerns about the ethical and sustainable sourcing of critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. As these minerals' extraction poses environmental and social challenges, initiatives promoting diversification, substitutes, and improved recycling methods are essential to scale responsibly without exacerbating environmental and ethical concerns. 

India is emerging as one of the fastest-growing markets for electric vehicles, with over 90% of its 2.3 million EVs being affordable two- or three-wheelers. Even Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like the Maldives are adopting EVs to counter energy insecurity and high petrol prices by introducing solar-powered charging stations. According to IEA, there were 26 million electric cars on the road in 2022. By 2023, the number of electric cars accounted for over a quarter of all new sales globally. Policy changes alone aren't the only thing propelling the adoption of EVs; EVs themselves are also a major factor. Lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance bills, and minimal environmental impact make them a promising solution to multiple development challenges.   

Read the full SEH Bulletin Issue 5.

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