China surpasses US, Europe in electromobility

Article By : Christoph Hammerschmidt

And the Chinese market is dominated by domestic brands and manufacturers; the only foreign vendor is Tesla with its Model S, ranking number 19.

The Chinese market holds an unassailable lead in electromobility, at least in terms of units. Market researcher Centre of Automotive Management (CAM) recently came up with the latest figures, and they show a very mixed picture.

At a global level, the electromobility growth is driven in the first place by the Chinese market. In the first eight months of the current year, about 240,000 electric vehicles have been sold in China, including electric passenger cars and buses. The number of new e-car registrations therefore grew by 123%, their market share reached 1.7%. Market leaders are manufacturer BYD with its models Tang and Qin as well as the E-series vehicles from BAIX and the Roewe 4550 from SAIC.

The Chinese market is dominated by domestic brands and manufacturers; the only foreign vendor is Tesla with its Model S, ranking number 19. In recognising the difficulties for foreign vendors to gain much traction in the Chinese e-mobility market, Volkswagen announced a joint venture with local company JAC to develop and sell electric cars.

In the United States, new registrations climbed 30% over the 2015 figures. More than 93,000 electric cars have been sold, with about 50,000 of them being battery electric vehicles (BEVs). However, the growth in the BEV segment amounted to just 11%. Market leader is Tesla; the company’s S and X models alone accounted for more than 50% of the sales. The Nissan Leaf has a market share of 16%, BMW’s i3 achieved 11%. In comparison with BEVs, Plug-in hybrids (PEVs) were significantly more successful: Driven mainly by demand for the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford Fusion Energi, their sales surged 64%.

In Europe, Norway continues to have its special status. In the first eight months of the current year, the small country with just 5.2 million inhabitants, saw 28,000 new registrations of electric cars, a plus of 37% over 2015. Also in the United Kingdom demand grew significantly; about 33% more electric cars were acquired than 2015. Like in the U.S., PEVs gained disproportionately at a growth rate of 41%. In France, the demand for electric vehicles grew 45%, with 75% of them accounting for PEVs, the remainder for BEVs.

Germany once again was the laggard in the race towards sustainable mobility. Despite national subsidies of up to ₹2.97 lakh (€4,000) for battery electric vehicles, the demand did not really pick up. The CAM study determines a meagre growth of just 8%; sales of electric cars amounted to just 14,013 units, considerably lower than in France (24,000 units) and the UK (28,000 units). The demand for purely battery-driven vehicles also dropped by 6.5%, according to the study.

Study author Stefan Bratzel believes the reason for the poor performance of electromobility is not so much the price of the cars, but instead what he calls a comparative disadvantage of this market segment, with the lack of a charging infrastructure combined with low driving range being the dominant factors. Therefore, the increasing the battery capacity and the infrastructure expansion are the most urgent measures, the study concludes.

Nevertheless, the CAM expects the market dynamics to increase significantly over the 10-15 years ahead, driven by technology advances and the regulatory environment. By 2025, the market watcher expects up to 14 million new e-cars, which equals about 15% of the overall production capacity. By 2030, this figure could climb to 30 million units and a market share of 30%.

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