The “E-Mobility Index,” which examines electric car sales and model options in the world’s 7 largest automobile markets (Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Japan, China, and South Korea), has found that sales are still quite low (under 1% of all new car sales) in these markets on average, and the #1 reason for that is because automakers are doing a poor job convincing buyers to choose electric vehicles.
This latest analysis finds that advertising is very limited and the “concepts” (or reasons) for going electric are presented in a very niche and inadequate way, which is even more significant than the lower driving range of 100% battery-electric vehicles when it comes to the low EV sales we’re seeing.
The good news is that automakers are increasing their number of options (see the latest news from BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler, for example) and seemingly highlighting these options more. But they still aren’t communicating to much extent or very effectively the better drive quality, convenience, wicked acceleration thanks to instant torque, ease of “fueling,” reduced maintenance, low cost of electricity, or potential energy independence that comes from going electric.
The report doesn’t focus on specific companies, but it’s clear that, aside from Tesla, the companies most actively promoting benefits of electric cars are the Renault-Nissan Alliance and BMW. In terms of how OEMs from the various large auto markets are approaching the EV market, and which countries on the whole are leading the way in different segments, the report states:
In terms of technology, France has overtaken Japan and is now in pole position. Behind this improvement lies a shift in the model mix of French OEMs in favor of smaller BEVs that offer good value for money. Japan is losing out by comparison because its OEM product portfolios exhibit only marginal technical development in the medium term. Japanese OEMs have no plans to roll out BEVs and PHEVs on a broad basis; instead, their strategy is to focus on full hybrids, which are not covered by this index. In the meantime, Germany is fast catching up with the three leading countries thanks to the growing share of smaller, more affordable PHEVs. As a result, German and French OEMs score almost exactly the same in the index despite their very different strategies: German OEMs focus on a broad-based rollout of more technically sophisticated but lower (electrical) range PHEVs, whereas their French rivals focus on small BEVs marketed at aggressive prices. All other countries remain at the same technical level as before, resulting in an ongoing stabilization of the overall competitive landscape in terms of technology (Figure 4).
In industry, China has improved its position strongly. The country profits doubly: first from strong growth in xEVs, which – excepting a few international niche models – is fed largely by domestic production, and then again from the attendant increase in value creation by local cell manufacturers. Japan, on the other hand, has lost out significantly in terms of share of value creation in global xEV production. However, the slump in its domestic market remains partially cushioned by the production capacity that Japanese OEMs have set up in Europe and America. While German OEMs have profited from growing market shares in their core European markets, they have managed to gain market share in the USA and Asia only with a few pure-play electric models (Figure 6).
In terms of the market, sales are down in the biggest markets, namely the USA and Japan. In all other markets sales are up substantially on the previous period. The Japanese market has experienced a strong slump, the country falling from second to fourth position, behind thirdplaced Germany. The situation in Japan is partly caused by their lack of new models, but also reflects the lower strategic importance of BEVs and PHEV in Japanese OEMs’ portfolios. France was the only country to make it over the 1% mark, putting it well ahead of a stagnating USA. Germany and China have continued to catch up with the leaders. However, the fact that German OEMs have not achieved greater market penetration despite their broader range of xEVs compared to their French, Japanese and American competitors indicates that xEVs are still niche products in all markets. The major growth impetus that would anchor e-mobility in the seven leading automotive nations long term is still nowhere to be seen (Figure 8)
In other words, few of these companies are taking the market seriously. They are building EVs and implementing minimum responsibilities in order to meet regulations in various countries. They are not working hard to tell consumers about the many benefits of electric cars. I wonder why….
For more, check out this most recent E-Mobility Index.