China passed the magic figure of one million new electric vehicle registrations last year. Germany is far from reaching this milestone. Furthermore, no improvement is expected before 2020 according to a recent study.
“2019 will be the year that electromobility makes its breakthrough in Germany.” This was the prediction made by Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the Center of Automotive Research (CAR) at the University of Duisburg-Essen when speaking with the country’s public international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. 80,000 purely battery-powered vehicles will be traveling on Germany’s roads — an increase of more than double compared with last year. However, the market share is still very low. High prices, an incomplete charging infrastructure, and ranges that are still too short are stopping many people from making a purchase.
The bonus paid out for buying an electric car has also failed to change things. The government is now placing its hopes on a multi-billion promotion of electric company cars. Those who use them privately can expect tax benefits in the future. However, industry experts consider this to be a stimulus program that mainly benefits hybrid vehicles.
German carmakers have at least announced a series of new models for this year. Tesla’s Model 3 it set to gain competition from an electric Mini. Meanwhile, Mercedes and Audi continue to rely on their highly profitable range of SUVs — this time in electric versions — which are less available to the masses. And Porsche’s first electric speedster is also powering ahead of your average consumer’s “gasoline engine.”
China embraces electromobility
Asia continues to be the source of “affordable” options such as the Nissan Leaf. Over there, China passed the magic figure of one million new electric vehicle registrations last year, according to a recent industry study conducted by the Center of Automotive Management (CAM).
The 1.27 million vehicles corresponded to an increase of 64 percent compared to last year. The market share of total registrations thus rose from 2.7 to 4.6 percent. About 23 percent of these were plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Around 95 percent of the Chinese market is in the hands of domestic car manufacturers.
The USA remained by far the second most important market for electromobility with an increase of 84 percent to a total of 356,000 vehicles in the same period. This was down to Tesla. The Model 3 accounted for 37 percent of all e-vehicle registrations there. This figure rises to more than fifty percent when taking all Tesla models into consideration. The market share of e-cars rose from 1.1 to 2.1 percent. Around two thirds of the electric vehicles sold were pure electric vehicles (BEVs).
Norway pulls ahead
In Europe, Norway, which is only a comparatively small country, was the exception when it came to electromobility. Last year, 73,000 new vehicles were registered in the sector. This equates to a market share of almost fifty percent — a figure unmatched globally. Around 63 percent of these were pure electric cars (BEVs).
By contrast, the increase of 26 percent (January to November 2018) to 61,800 electric vehicles here in Germany can only be described as moderate at best. Only 53 percent of these were BEVs. The market share rose from 1.6 to 2.0 percent.
In other European countries, Great Britain achieved around 59,000 new electric car registrations in 2018, France around 45,000, and in the Netherlands sales figures tripled to around 24,000 electric vehicles, where the market share rose to 5.2 percent.
In Sweden too, electromobility sales are significantly increasing, reaching a market share of eight percent. Japan, on the other hand, saw a decline in new e-vehicle registrations to around 50,000. The market share shrank to 1.1 percent, despite the world’s most popular electric vehicle — the Nissan Leaf — rolling off the assembly line there.
Electromobility 2019 in the automotive heartland
According to the CAM study, German car manufacturers still have a lot of ground to make up in the area of electromobility. In the comparison of 25 international automotive groups, they are only placed halfway in the rankings. They are still currently lacking a broad enough offering with competitive ranges and prices. Senior management is promising significant improvements by 2019/20, however.
Tesla is presently by far the leading supplier of pure electric vehicles (BEVs), followed by the Chinese manufacturers BYD and BAIC as well as Hyundai and Renault. The innovation rankings for plug-in hybrids are significantly different, however. Here, German manufacturers leave others behind with the VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne PHEV, or Passat GTE, for example, but mainly in the upper premium segment.
There is no doubt that electromobility is already gaining momentum in many countries. This good progress is particularly due to regulatory conditions and the attractive models of certain manufacturers. However, a real breakthrough is not expected until 2020, when we can anticipate an exponential increase in e-car sales in Germany and the EU. After all, manufacturers must meet their CO2 targets to avoid paying penalties. In the optimistic scenario, in 2025, the CAM study anticipates around 25 percent (25 million) annual new registrations to be for electric cars. In the conservative scenario, this figure is expected to be less than half at around 12 percent.
The study “AutomotiveINNOVATIONS 2018” is available here for €1,490 as a single license (PDF + PowerPoint presentation).