FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Worldwide electric car registrations are set to fall 18% this year, but those of combustion engine cars are set to drop even faster, analysts BloombergNEF (BNEF) said on Tuesday, as the automotive sector is hammered by the coronavirus crisis.
In a report, BNEF forecast registrations of combustion engine cars would drop 23% in 2020.
The temporary closure of showrooms amid lockdowns to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus has disrupted sales and undermined consumer confidence, BNEF said in its annual global outlook for electric vehicles.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is set to cause a major downturn in global auto sales in 2020," said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at BNEF.
"The long-term trajectory has not changed, but the market will be bumpy for the next three years," he added.
BNEF forecast electric models would reach 31% of the overall car fleet by 2040 and account for 58% of new passenger car sales by that date, as combustion engine cars gradually decline from their peak in 2017.
Electric car sales this year were forecast at 1.7 million, adding to the 7 million already on the road.
The figures have implications for oil and electricity markets.
The electrification of transport, driven by anti-pollution legislation, is forecast to remove 17.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil demand by 2040, up from 1 million bpd currently, while electric cars could add 5.2% to power demand by that date, BNEF estimated.
It also forecast the world would need around 290 million charging points by 2040, of which 12 million would be in public places and the rest at home, workplaces, or private commercial sites.
The report also saw prospects for growth of fuel-cell vehicles using hydrogen. These could account for 3.9% of heavy-duty commercial vehicle sales and 6.5% of municipal bus sales by 2040, it predicted.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Mark Potter)