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Tesla is the biggest foreign seller of EVs in China (Photo: Tesla)

Global sales of electric vehicles are set to start growing rapidly in the next decade, according to a new study.

The report by Germany's Center of Automotive Management (CAM) said that, so far, car buyers are still showing little interest in EVs.

"But on the basis of technological innovation and a change in the political context from the 2020's, we can expect a rapid worldwide growth in electric mobility," the CAM report said.

The key market for this growth will be China, where in 2016, 507,000 so-called new energy vehicles (NEV) were sold, up 53 pc from 2015. CAM noted that pure electric vehicles accounted for 409,000 or 81 pc of sales, far exceeding plug-in hybrids.

The Chinese EV market is dominated by domestic manufacturers, which claimed the top 3 spots in 2016. And, according to the study, Tesla was the only non-Chinese carmaker in the top 20.

"There are many reasons to expect that China will remain the clear leader in electric mobility," the CAM report said. It cited among these reasons a planned quota system that would require a percentage of a manufacturer's car sales to be NEVs.

The US, the world's second-biggest EV market, saw sales jumped 38 pc to 157,181 vehicles, Tesla was the biggest seller, followed by Nissan and BMW.

In most major markets, EVs account for between 0.7 and 1.8 pc of overall new-vehicle sales and CAM predicted only "moderate growth rates" in the next two to three years.

But the research institute said market dynamics and most notably the big wave of auto-industry investment now underway will start boosting EV market shares in subsequent years . A "massive upeaval in powertrain technologies  can be expected in the next 10 to 15 years," CAM said.