Electric vehicles are the future. In a report dated Nov. 10 and prepared for the big United Nations climate conference that just concluded in Glasgow, BloombergNEF projects annual EV sales to hit 5.6 million in 2021, up from 3.1 million in 2020.

An even more stunning number from the report is 7.2%: That's the percentage of EVs among all passenger cars sold globally in the first half of 2021. That number was only 4.3% in 2020.

With the report also pegging global automakers to have already collectively committed to selling nearly 40 million EVs per year by 2030, investors in EV stocks could be headed for a really wild ride in the coming decades -- a wild ride that could mean exponential returns, provided you pick your stocks right and on time. If that's got you thinking, here are three incredible EV stocks you could buy and hold for the next decade at least.

Hard to ignore the potential here

For nearly four decades now, Ford's (NYSE:F) F-150 pickups have been the best-selling pickup in America, year after year. Now Ford wants to replicate that success with electric pickups, and while you may argue that will be tougher than Ford thinks, you can't deny how well positioned Ford is to take the electric truck world by storm if it wants to.

For now, Ford is starting off with three all-electric vehicles: the F-150 Lightning pickup, the E-transit van, and the Mustang E-Mach. So how far has the company come on these? Take a look at these numbers:

  • By October, Ford had received 160,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning.
  • The E-Transit is sold out, and production is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
  • Ford sold 21,703 Mustang Mach-Es year to date as of Nov. 2.
A person using a mobile phone while waiting to charge electric car.

Image source: Getty Images.

To give you another example of how aggressively Ford is expanding into the EV space, consider that it has collaborated with South Korea's SK Innovation to invest $11.4 billion on two megacampuses, one each in Tennessee and Kentucky, to build next-generation electric F-series pickups and lithium-ion batteries by 2025. This investment is part of Ford's commitment to pump more than $30 billion into EVs through 2025. Longer term, Ford projects that 40%-50% of its global vehicle volumes will be fully electric by 2030.

Now, Ford's stock may not experience the kind of dizzying euphoria that EV pure-play stocks have in recent months, but that's also why you should buy Ford shares. While its core business should provide stability that you may not get to see in risky EV stocks, its aggressive EV initiatives should give you the growth you're looking for. Ford should be a win-win for any long-term EV investor.

The stock that powers electric cars

The global EV battery market is projected to grow at double-digit compound annual growth rates (CAGR) in the coming years. That shouldn't come as a surprise, as demand for batteries that power EVs is directly correlated to the number of EVs sold. And with EVs running on lithium-ion batteries, you shouldn't go wrong investing in shares of the world's largest lithium mining company.

Albermarle (NYSE:ALB) in fact, is seeing such strong demand for lithium that it recently increased its 2021 outlook, now expecting to generate $3.3 billion to $3.4 billion in revenue, versus the $3.1 billion it generated in 2020.

If that doesn't give you an idea of how lucrative lithium is to Albemarle, here's another number to ponder: Albemarle sees revenue from lithium growing at a CAGR of 12% to 17% through 2024. Comparatively, it sees revenue from its other two segments -- bromine and catalysts -- growing by a CAGR of only 1.5%-2.5% and 3%-5%, respectively.

Also, Albemarle is now eyeing the largest EV market, China, for growth. It struck agreements to build plants in China in October, which could produce 50,000  metric tons of lithium hydroxide annually once fully operational after 2024. Overall, lithium is the only reason why almost 40% to 45% of Albemarle's sales could come from China alone by 2026, versus just around 20% in 2021.

Albemarle is on rock-solid footing in the lithium market, and with the company also committed to shareholder returns through dividend growth -- it has increased dividends annually for 27 years -- this one's an EV stock for keeps.

The hottest EV stock is about to get hotter

Lucid Group (NASDAQ:LCID) is among the hottest EV stocks right now, and rightfully so: Lucid could prove to be a real threat to leading electric-car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), a prospect that's too alluring for EV investors to ignore.

Yet for those who think Lucid is already richly valued, at a market capitalization of around $71 billion, this could just be the beginning if Lucid's Air cars can indeed give Tesla a run for its money. For that matter, Tesla's market cap is over $1 trillion.

Here's the thing: From the things Lucid has promised and delivered upon so far, it's clear this company isn't one to be taken lightly. For example, many laughed off Lucid some years ago when it claimed to build cars that could run more than 500 miles on a single charge. This past September, Lucid stunned EV enthusiasts when it received an official EPA range rating of 520 miles for its most expensive car yet, the Air Dream Edition.

A Lucid Air.

Image source: Lucid Group.

As promised, Lucid also started delivering its first cars -- the Dream Edition -- at the end of October. Reviews coming in so far for the Air Dream have been nothing short of phenomenal, and with Lucid planning to deliver 520 cars at a price tag of $169,000 a car, that's pretty decent initial revenue for an EV startup.

If you buy Lucid shares now, you'll be betting on its growth plans. Here are just some of them:

  • Lucid has multiple models ready for launch.
  • Deliveries of the Air Grand Touring model should start right after Dream Edition deliveries, and those of the Air Touring and Air Pure models will follow in 2022.
  • Lucid has started reservations for all models in Canada and plans to open multiple studios in 2022.
  • It expects to launch a luxury SUV, the Gravity, in 2023.
  • Lucid is targeting production of 20,000 vehicles in 2022 and 50,000 by 2023.
  • By 2023, Lucid plans to enter Europe, the Middle East, and China. It has already received approval to start EV production in Saudi Arabia -- its second-largest market by preorders -- by 2024.

Not many know that Lucid's in-house battery and powertrain technology is its biggest asset. Lucid has built batteries for Formula E racing cars, and it's poured all of that tried and tested powerful technology into Lucid Airs now. 

Nov. 15 will be a big day, as Lucid releases its first detailed quarterly report since going public. I don't recommend making investment decisions based on one quarter, but with Lucid, it already seems like a different ballgame altogether.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.